Prayer: Great God Almighty, you are the One who spoke this world into being and life, may we continue to hear the depth and truth of your words. Let the reality of your divinity take root in our hearts and minds. Pair it with the reality of your humanity in our hopes and fears. Amen.
Reading: John 18: 1- 19:42 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: It is no surprise that three-hour worship services and countless volumes of Bible studies mark the complexities and depth of meaning found in the Passion story of our beloved Jesus. So for this space, I am focusing just on the verses 18:4-9.
You probably already know this but, it “wigs me out,” so I am going to highlight it: Jesus says, “I AM.” His accusers step back and prostrate themselves. What is going on here? They hear the pronouncement of the divine personal Name of the Creator. Not only that, they hear it in a tone that does not offend as though someone had just broken Torah by using God’s holy Name inappropriately or illegitimately. No, they hear the two words spoken with the tones of the real meaning. More than just hearing your name spoken by someone who knows you and loves you. More than just the truth of announcing who he actually is. They heard the words with the power of words that speak light into being, dry land into vegetation, and dust into a beating human heart. For those of us who long to worship God and be near God’s presence, this was a mountaintop moment. Well, it could have been. Jesus knew, though, that their minds were not in agreement with their hearts. They might recognize on a creaturely level that this person was far beyond them and over them. Their minds, however, were hell bent on destruction. This dogged determination led Jesus to place himself in between their fangs and his beloved disciples. This is why he tells them a second time in tones of human reality who he is to their hunger for vengeance and pain. This is why he tells them “take me and let them go.” --Andrew Fitch
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