Its funny. I've read and re-read the description of the Jesus' betrayal and trial as well as his death and resurrection many, many times. I can't count how many times I've read about it. And I don't think I've really read that verse. I went back and looked at my NIV and it was underlined so it must of made an impression somewhere along the line. I had written a little note next to it, too: John 17.
I've been following the lectionary series that is printed in the front of my Lutheran Study Bible (LSB). The series I'm following is the "Three-Year Lectionary: Series A." That's just a fancy way of saying "these are the readings that are assigned" for such and such a day. There are three readings: one from the Old Testement, one from the Epistles, and one from the Gospels. They build on each other. The Gospel reading being the cherry on the top. The reading for today, Wednesday of Holy Week is Luke 22:1-23:56.
I wrote the above paragraphs a few days ago. I didn't post this originally because I ran out of time. Since then, I have continued the readings. I am actually a day behind. I read Maundy Thursday's readings a little earlier. I'll read Good Friday's, the one that are appointed for today, later on this evening. I'm letting the Mauny Thurday kind of settle in and take root. Here is the verse that struck me today, It comes from Hebrews 9:22 "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood tehre is no forgiveness of sins." That's the verse that is working its way through my conscience and unconscience.
When I was working Camp Lone Star, in La Grange, TX I had a camper who was very smart. He was from a good, stong Lutheran family. I can't remember his name, but he was about 8 or so. One morning we were walking back to our cabin after morning song time. We were just chatting about whatever it was when he stopped and looked at me quite ernestly and said "Pnut, if Jesus and I were the only two people on earth, who would kill him?" It stopped me in my tracks. I knew the answer immediately, but how do you tell an 8 year old that he, in fact, would be the one to nail Jesus to the cross? That question has stayed with me ever since. It was a tough question.
The two verses that have been working on me for a variety of reasons and I'm not really sure I can truly quantify them. Or even explain why they seem to have stopped me in my tracks. Maybe, the first one, Luke 22:31 makes me realize that Satan, or "the adversary" as it can be translated in the Greek (I looked it up the other day as I did some very ameteaur exegesis) is demanding me so that I can me "sifted like wheat." Of course, I immediately thought of Matthew 3:11-12
"I Baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but that chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" ESV
By rights, I should be in the chaff that is going into the fire. I am sinful by nature, unclean, soiled. I am a sinner through and through, from top to bottom. Satan is demanding me. He is damanding all of us and yet, because of God's Grace and Love, those who "believe and are baptized" are saved.
I have heard the story of W.C. Fields on his death bed. He was sitting up in bed with a Bible open on his lap, one his friends came in, he was shocked to Fields with a Bible. He asked W.C. what he was doing and, as the story goes, W.C. repsonded "looking for the loophole..." Except its not a loophole, not really. What Jesus did for us this day 2,000 years ago is much more than a loophole! And that's where Hebrews 9 seems to come in. My salvation comes through the blood-sacrafice that God demanded. There had to be atonement. God, in his infinite wisdom, knew that I could never atone for my sinful nature. It is so deeprooted, what we Lutherans call the "old Adam" I am sinful by nature, born into it, and to some degree I revel in it. And yet, because "God so loved the world (me/us/you)He sent his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." That is the loophole. Right there.
That faith that Jesus prayed Peter would have, I'd like to think he prayed I would have, too. If Peter, the Rock upon which Christ built his church was in need of special faith-prayer, then rest assured I am, too. I will sing my hosannas in the highest on Sunday. I will thank God for his love and Grace. And revel, not in sin, but in the great knowledge that I am in the Grace and that I am well blessed. Satan has demanded me, but as it says in the Apostle's Creed "He descended into hell and on the third day rose again! Yeah, I'll take the loophole. I'll take that loophole all day long.