Read the Whole Story, Luke 22:14-23:56
This is a long passage and, at first, we may balk at having to read so much scripture at one time. But it is good for us to see the whole story, the big picture. We have grown accustomed to receiving our information in small doses, sound bites, and video clips.
Information taken out of context is dangerous and susceptible to misuse and manipulation. In our reading for today, important scenes are given context; we see their place in the complete narrative. When we start with the Last Supper and read through to the burial of Jesus, we see the environment in which important events took place. We don’t see as separate occurrences the prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, Peter’s denial, the trumped up trial, the crucifixion, and the burial. These dots are connected; each event sheds light on the other.
Reading a passage of this length works against our tendency to pick and choose isolated events that suit us in one way or another. It keeps us from avoiding difficult passages and scenes. The exercise, encountered here, carries over into our engagement with all of scripture. To pick and choose and ignore is to construct our own scripture.
Lent will not allow us to skip over scenes that contain blood and spit and sweat. Lent will not allow us to skip over accounts of betrayal by disciples, or of greed and cowardice. But, when we see such things in scripture, they relate to those same things within us. It hurts at first, but eventually those things are forgiven and redeemed. That won’t happen, though, until we read the whole story and see ourselves in that story. Would we skip over such an important pivotal point? We must read the whole story in order to find ourselves, as we really are, in that story. Picking and choosing will serve to make us look better than we are, perhaps not even in need of Jesus’ sacrifice. An encounter with the whole story reveals the whole truth.
When we reach the end of Luke 23, we join the friends and followers of Jesus in that day. The “end” they experienced was the end of a dream and deep commitment. We shout back to them that chapter 24 is coming, but they cannot hear us. Their grief and sorrow would drown out our cries even if the centuries didn’t. They could only see themselves in the context of loss and failure. They were heartbroken and maybe even a little embarrassed that they would ever believe Jesus could be their messiah. From the depths of our hearts we often join them there, at the end, not knowing or not believing that there would be a next chapter.
The whole story of Jesus’ last days on earth draws us into the emotions and world of real people, in real time, in a story as real as ours. Would we read a shorter version? Would we read a version we edited? We read of dark days that look very much like our darkest days. We see ourselves in Jesus’ life. We see Jesus in our life.
Help us to read the whole story and to see ourselves in each scene.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.
All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.
Copyright © 2013 Birnamwood Publications (ASCAP)
A division of MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., St. Louis, MO
All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.