Betrayed

Jesus was betrayed by one of his 12 closest friends. Judas was the bad guy. But I don’t put all the betrayal on Judas. In the Gospel of Matthew,after Jesus was arrested, the writer states “all the disciples cut and ran.”

Even Simon Peter, the Rock, betrayed and denied Jesus three times before the rooster made a sound the next morning.

Judas put the betrayal into motion….but others were soon to follow.

The deference….Judas never turned back around to experience God’s unconditional grace. He took his life.

But for a moment. All of Jesus’ friends, apart for his Mother, neglected him when he have his life for all humanity.

They knew this day was coming. Jesus warned them…but they were caught off guard.

In fact. We are all to blame. We all have betrayed Jesus at some point. We all have allowed our self interests to get in the way of God’s Love.

We can easily be caught off guard.
It’s not all Judas.

Luke 22:39-53

A Dark Night

Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”

He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.

He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, “What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won’t give in to temptation.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, “Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When those with him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.

Jesus said, “Let them be. Even in this.” Then, touching the servant’s ear, he healed him.

Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: “What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I’ve been with you in the Temple and you’ve not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it’s a dark night, a dark hour.” (The Message)

John 18:13-27

The Denials

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was known to the Chief Priest, and so he went in with Jesus to the Chief Priest’s courtyard. Peter had to stay outside. Then the other disciple went out, spoke to the doorkeeper, and got Peter in.

The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?”

He said, “No, I’m not.”

The servants and police had made a fire because of the cold and were huddled there warming themselves. Peter stood with them, trying to get warm………

Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?”

He denied it, “Not me.”

One of the Chief Priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”

Again, Peter denied it. Just then a rooster crowed.

Park

A friend showed me this link:  San Antonio will allow campers during the Easter Weekend at local city parks.  Looks like the homeless can camp without getting arrested for a night.

You probably already know about this…but just in case you don’t. http://www.woai.com/news/local/story/San-Antonio-to-open-city-parks-for-Easter-camping/zD1rceF__EqiryqpYN72Ug.cspx?rss=68
Looks like you can “camp” over the weekend and not get arrested! :) Might be a fun experience!

Garden

Mark 14:32-42

Jesus entered the Garden to pray sometime after the supper. The gospel of John writes… He not only prays for himself…but his disciples and all believers.

Jesus was 100% divine…but also 100% human. (Hypostatic Union…for all you div school people). In the Garden, we see both of these characteristics of Jesus through his prayer.

He prays to have the burden of his crucifixion removed from him if possible…but Jesus also has the humility to submit to God’s divine will. A thing to be grasped.

Jesus’ friends were not too much of a help, support, or comfort to him. They kept falling asleep.

Jesus had a huge burden…but he was willing to continue with his passion…despite everyone falling asleep.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”  He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Supper

Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like a banquet—-full of food and good company. For both the poor and the rich…all you needed to do was attend and not be distracted by work, school, and self interests.

So it’s only fitting that one of the last acts before Jesus’ death would be a meal with his disciples and friends.

It was the Jewish Passover. A yearly tradition for God’s people… But this supper was going to be different. It was his last.

They broke bread.
They drank wine.
They shared in community…even when a betrayer was in the room.
They participated in the Body of Christ!

The next few days I will post about the last words of Christ but I wanted to start with the supper, enter the garden, and follow his last 7 words.

The Supper.

Matthew 26:17-30

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Visitation

I went to visit Robert in the County Jail today. I needed to get Ministerial rights to visit outside the normal visitation hours. After I was set to go by the jail’s chaplain…I went in to visit Robert.

Robert went missing the same night I finished working my shift at the Vegetable Plant. He was gone for 7 days. We found his backpack by the barn…which he never leaves alone…so we were concerned for his safety when he did not return that next day. On day seven…I called the “missing persons” hotline and they informed me he had been arrested for trespassing.

I did not know how easy it was to get that information from the police. Who knew?!

I was relieved to hear this news. It meant that Robert was okay and safe…and sober!

I needed to go visit him. For many nights of my journey, Robert was kind enough to allow me to stay with him…so I definitely owed him a visit and a good hello.

To be honest,  I have never been on a pastoral jail visit. I have visited shut ins, children and adults in hospitals, funeral homes, and schools as a pastor…but never a jail.

Jail can be an intimidating place to visit. There are multiple security check points, the absence of public parking (since it is located in a bad part of town), and the lack of windows is hard enough to absorb…not including the sight of the prisoners.

It was kind of like what you see in the movies. After the security approved my ID…I was sent to booth #6 where Robert would meet with me on the other side of the window. A circular hole was cut in the middle and screened off so 2 people could speak to each other easily.

After waiting there for 5 minutes or so…I saw Robert’s head peek through the opposite door.

He smiled bigger than I have ever seen him smile…and he said, “John!”

I have gone by John a lot during this lenten journey.  John is my first name, and the name that is printed on my outdoor shelter badge. Gavin is my middle name.

Robert sat down in the booth, and we both leaned toward the window so we could talk to each other better.

Robert is 52 and homeless.
I am 30 and not homeless…but I now consider him one of my best friends in San Antonio. He is one of the few people who actually knows that I am on a Lenten fast.

I feel like I know him better than some of my friends that I have known for years….Something about living together on the streets bonds people together.

He told me about the arrest and how he was only walking on the sidewalk…when he interrupted a downtown social party at a nearby club. They did not like him being there so they called the cops. A scene broke out, and the cops arrested him for trespassing.

Now, I don’t know what really took place…but I bet there is more than just his side of the story.

However, he seemed to be telling some truth.

In my 40 days, I have witnessed businesses overreact when it comes to managing homeless people on the streets. It’s a difficult thing to manage as a business owner when working near downtown.

I don’t always blame them.

Robert was in the detox program at the jail, and he will be there until they release him for timed served. 1-2 weeks at best. 1 month at worst.

He was worried about his things in his barn. I told him not to worry about his stuff. A few days ago, I had gone to get most of it: his backpack, jacket, cowboy hat, boots, etc. (You should have seen me carry all that stuff back to the front porch of my house…it was a funny sight.) I really looked like a bum walking down the street.

After 20 minutes, he had to go to dinner.

I told him to stay safe…and that we could not wait to see him when he gets out. Then he put his hand on the glass. So did I.

It was good to see him.

I love that guy to death.

It was good to see Robert’s face not worn down by the alcohol. He is such a sweet and gentle man when sober…even slightly sober.

His eyes were happy.

So was I.

Psalm 41:1-3

Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive,
And he will be blessed on the earth;
You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness;
You will sustain him on his sickbed. (NKJV)

Baylor T-Shirt

When I was an undergraduate at Baylor University in Waco, Texas I had a huge collection of Baylor T-Shirts. From Young Life, Kanakuk, Sorority Parties, and from sporting events we would usually lose (this was before we had a Heisman Trophy Winner, a #1 Women’s Bball Team, and a Elite 8 Men’s Team!)

All but a few of my shirts (except my “Keep Waco Wacko” shirt…I still wear that one!) are now somewhere in storage collecting dust and not being used.

Completely Unused.

A few days ago, I gained one more Baylor Shirt…This time it came from the donation center at one of the homeless shelters in town. I did not ask for it or find it on the rack but it was given to me in a donation when I requested a medium t-shirt (I was all out!) from the closet.

You don’t handpick what you get. It’s just given to you. I thought it was very ironic…

I went to Baylor.
Received a BS in Education there.
Was called into Ministry there in 2003.

It’s a funny feeling to be wearing a college t-shirt from your alma mater…at a homeless shelter…when you are homeless…

Somebody, unlike me, gave away some of their unused Baylor shirts for a better use than a keep sake…Whoever it was…Thank You!!!

How many people would really believe I went there when I am now living at the shelter or on the streets?

Is there anyone living on the streets that went to Baylor? Maybe…I don’t know.

Just a crazy thought…and I am reading way to much into this…

Anyway,

Sic’ Em Bears.

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iWork 2.0

This past weekend, I got another temporary job that many of my homeless friends go to on Saturday. (Ironically…so do many college students….see what we all have in common!)

To get this job, I did not have to wake up at 3am to make a shift at a temp agency. No. I could get this job anytime between 8am-3pm….and it only takes 3 hours to complete. It sounded too good to be true.

Bad news: you cannot be afraid of needles, blood, or nurses.

The work: Plasma Donation
The pay: $60.00

I arrived at BioTest Laboratories at 9:30am. (much better than 3) I has to sign in, verify my ID, SS#, and read a booklet on donating. After that was complete, I went through 2 physicals to make sure I was a healthy donor.

You get paid $60 dollars at this location for your first two visits…then around $25-35 for all other visits. It’s not a bad deal.

A nurse called my name and pointed to my chair. I was ready to go. When all the intake procedure was completed (They have a lot of questions…) I got in line to donate. The center I went to has 36 donation beds and machines. They were about 3/4 full so the line was not long.

All the other 5 beds in my section were full and already in the process of giving plasma. All but one person were shaking their feet in discomfort. Was it really that bad?

The nurse asked me for my SS# again, address, and number. They have to verify identity at every check point…for good reason.

Now…I was ready to be pricked.

I have given blood before…but not when they take blood out, take out the plasma, and put the blood back in.

Here we go…..prick.

It was not that bad…but I did look away.  Blood went though the cords really fast.  I was on my way to $60.00!

The procedure took over an hour, so I got on my phone and texted a few people. The discomfort was small…but my fingers were getting numb. However, I was amazed by the plasma machine and how it redirected my blood in all the right containers.

The nurse told me to always pump my fist. I understood…but pumping your fist over an hour gets tiring.

I started to wonder. Where my blood would go?
Who would get my blood?
Would people appreciate that their blood came from many homeless citizens?

Plasma often is referred to as the “gift of life” because it is the essential starting material needed to manufacture therapies that help thousands of people worldwide with rare, chronic diseases to live healthier, productive and fulfilling lives.  In order to manufacture these vital therapies, and ensure that there is an adequate supply of plasma protein therapies to treat patients in need, plasma donors like you need to donate plasma at a local donation center.  More facts about plasma can be found here.

30 mins into the donation my fingers went numb…and pressure started to build up in my arm. Painful…but not that bad.

60 mins…the discomfort grew…and I started to shake my feet to distract the awkward feeling of my blood reentering my arm.  Now I know why the others were shaking…(except that one guy…I guess he is tough.)

Over an hour later…I was done…the nurse unhooked the cords, took the needle out of my arm and bandaged me up.  I sat there for a while so I would not feel sick when getting up…but for the most part…I felt totally fine.

The nurse showed me the way out…and I got my 60.00 dollars.  Wow…that’s a lot in this journey.

After I left the downtown plasma center, I realized that the city was celebrating the life of César Chávez (March 31) and having a parade on the road that was renamed (earlier this year) after the civil rights leader.  Just recently, the SA City Council voted to change Durango Street to “César Chávez Blvd.”)

I wanted to check out the rally and parade.
Community speeches by local leaders were going on all day at the Alamo.

César Chávez was an American farm worker born in Yuma, Arizona, who became a labor leader and civil rights activist for workers rights across the nation. Many of these workers were Hispanic.  Along with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962. (Now called the United Farm Workers.)

Like Martin Luther King, Chávez practiced non-violent protest.  “Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak.  Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win” Chavez said.  “In some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence.”

It sounds quite familiar to my job last week: read iWork on March 24th. For Chávez, “the fight is never about grapes or lettuce…” it has always been “about people.”  Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, he would support farm workers across the nation by helping them seek higher wagers, safer working environments, and improved immigration law though his speeches, fasts, and marches.  One of his largest battles came in the 1970’s when the UFW organized strikes and boycotts for farm workers across the nation.  Strikes such as the “Salad Bowl” strike (the largest farm worker strike in U.S. history) helped gain higher wages for those farm workers who were employed by grape and lettuce growers.

What I found interesting about Chávez was that he undertook a number of spiritual fasts similar to many non-violent leaders in the past.  He treated his fasts as an act of “personal spiritual transformation”.  In 1968, he fasted for 25 days, living out the practice of nonviolence.  In 1970, Chávez began a fast of ‘thanksgiving and hope’ to counter the civil disobedience by fellow farm workers who acted out in violence.  In 1972, he fasted after his state’s passage of legislation that prohibited boycotts and strikes by farm workers during the harvest seasons.  He knew how to really, really fight.  Not with a gun…not with a knife…but with a shovel in one hand and a bull horn in the other.

I now know why many people all across the nation, and especially the border states, place him on the same level of honor as Martin Luther King and Gandhi.

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sake and for our own.”  – César Chávez

Man…giving blood was nothing.  I need to go back to the Vegetable Plant…

Read Deuteronomy 24:14-15

Deuteronomy 24:14-15

You shall not exploit a poor and needy hired servant, whether one of your own kindred or one of the resident aliens who live in your land, within your gates. On each day you shall pay the servant’s wages before the sun goes down, since the servant is poor and is counting on them. Otherwise the servant will cry to the LORD against you, and you will be held guilty. (NAB)

Palm Sunday (Luke 19:28-48)

It’s the start of Holy Week. I almost cannot believe it! 1 week left.

I am sad, happy, nervous, and eager all at the same time.

I have a goal to reach…and it’s almost over.

Today is Palm Sunday. This is the Sunday Christians all around the world choose to celebrate the day Jesus officially entered Jerusalem on a colt so God’s Will could be made complete.

It was a grand entrance. One we would not think Jesus would appreciate…but this time he did…even helped put it together.

In this latter part of his ministry, Jesus made the decision to make his way back toward Jerusalem…knowing his fate.

Death on a cross…
Even as a guiltless man.

Now the time had come. He was at the entrance of the city. Once again, he did not back down.

After 3 years of miracles, teachings, and relationships, Jesus had many more followers than just his 12 disciples. These followers were excited to see him…and He allowed them to give Him the proper Glory the Son of God deserves. People had olive branches and other materials and they laid them in front of the procession to honor their Savior.

Christ rode into town on an new colt…not even a used one.

I like that.
Jesus had style.

I’ve heard people say that this story does not show His humility…that it seems self righteous.

I disagree… I can’t think of anything more humbling than choosing to enter into a city, knowing that in this place, you will face death and betrayal by your friends.

I would have passed on the parade…and the new car…and stayed at home.

Here is how the Gospel of Luke described the event:

After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem. When he got near Bethphage and Bethany at the mountain called Olives, he sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says anything, asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘His Master needs him.'”

The two left and found it just as he said. As they were untying the colt, its owners said, “What are you doing untying the colt?”

They said, “His Master needs him.”

They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street.

Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed:

Blessed is he who comes,
the king in God’s name!
All’s well in heaven!
Glory in the high places!

Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!”

But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”

When the city came into view, he wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it’s too late. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They’ll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. All this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.”

Going into the Temple he began to throw out everyone who had set up shop, selling everything and anything. He said, “It’s written in Scripture,

My house is a house of prayer;
You have turned it into a religious
bazaar.”

From then on he taught each day in the Temple. The high priests, religion scholars, and the leaders of the people were trying their best to find a way to get rid of him. But with the people hanging on every word he spoke, they couldn’t come up with anything.

Jesus was both determined and compassionate.

During his entrance, Jesus wept for the city and his people’s future. It was going to be a difficult journey….but one that is endurable with God.

He even taught at the temple each day regardless of the threats against his life. His mission of peace could not be deterred.

How are we glorifying Christ this week?
How are we laying down palm branches before his feet in how we worship him during our daily life?

How are we waking alongside Him this week…as we all walk toward Friday Night?

Will you be deterred?