Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Deu 6:5
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your strength" (Deu 6:5).
"O God, be thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of
earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life.
Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above
all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou
exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the
carrying of heavy crosses I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou
exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result
I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord,
into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes,
above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that Thou
mayest increase, let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as
[Thy Son] didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a
colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, 'Hosanna in
the highest' " (AW Tozer).
Reading 2 - Ecc 2:17
"I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was
grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (Ecc 2:17).
Here, in Ecclesiastes, may be the place where eastern
philosophies come into closest intersection with the truth of the Bible. The
Buddha, for example, stated: "True wisdom is a desire to be nothing, to be blown
out, to enter into Nirvana", that is, to become extinct, with the residue of
life, in some sense, mingled into the Eternal. And so much of the religions that
characterize the Far East breathe out this same spirit: the spirit of
self-abnegation, or stoic calm and resigned acceptance of the inevitable -- as
though (which Zen Buddhism teaches us) "life and death are all the same",
"Life is like a dewdrop,
Empty and fleeting;
My years are gone
And now, quivering and frail,
I must fade away."
It IS true -- so sadly true... if a man knows not God, or even
if -- knowing God -- he lives a life as though he has no care for the Eternal
and His priniciples and purpose.
True Christianity has much in common with this sort of
pessimism. The only feature that makes it different is the hope of eternal life,
beyond a life of frustration and futility and vanity. Without the empty tomb of
Christ, and the heart-skipping hope it gives us, our lives would be not one whit
beyond or above those of the countless millions who have gone on before us, into
the oblivion of their own final resting places.
Reading 3 - John 19:2
"The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on
his head" (John 19:2).
But the crown of thorns became a crown (stephanos) of victory.
There is a crown of pride (Isa 28:3), which no one should wear. A crown of
thorns (Mat 27:29), which no one can wear. And a crown of life (Jam 1:12), which
everyone may wear.
"In making fun of the king of the Jews, they were mocking, not
Christ, but their own Caesar, and every Caesar, king or ruler than ever had
been, or will be. They were making human power itself a subject of scorn).
Thenceforth, for all to see, thorns sprouted under every golden crown, and
underneath every royal robe there was stricken and smitten flesh" (M
Muggeridge). From that time forward, every power and every pretension of foolish
mankind would appear ludicrous alongside the one true crown, the crown of thorns
worn by Jesus. From that time forward, the only meaningful power would be that
which originated in his suffering.
"They clothed him in a purple robe" (v 2).
Was the robe at Christ's trial purple (Mark 15:17; John
19:2,5) or scarlet (Mat 27:28)? Many commentators state that the two colors were
often confused, and dismiss the matter casually as "purple, or scarlet", as if
to say it does not matter. Purple was the color of royalty, whereas the common
Roman soldiers' cloak was scarlet (so we are told). Perhaps the cloak initially
thrown over Jesus' shoulders was scarlet, belonging to one of the soldiers; but
that it was further augmented by a purple scarf or cape, since the intention of
his mockers was clearly to portray Jesus as king.