Holy Week 2014 – Devotion 4 – Annas

April 15, 2014


Jesus answered Annas, “Why do you ask me these questions?  Ask those witnesses who actually heard what I said to them.  They know what I said.” – John 18:21

In the early 1870s, Lawrence Murphy was the “boss” of Lincoln County, New Mexico.  Murphy owned the only bank and general store in the area.  Local residents despised Murphy, who charged excessive prices.  An enterprising English businessman, John Tunstall, opened a rival store in 1876.  Murphy, however, moved quickly to eliminate Tunstall as a threat to Murphy’s monopoly. On February 18, 1878, Tunstall was shot and killed.  The assassins were Murphy employees.  Tunstall’s death ignited the Lincoln County War, a series of bloody battles between Murphy’s gunmen and the Regulators, a group of former Tunstall employees that included William Bonney — “Billy the Kid.”

Annas was the Lawrence Murphy of his day.  He had formerly been the Jewish high priest, but the Romans had deposed him for carrying out illegal capital sentences.  Even so, the job remained in Annas’s family:  the new high priest was Annas’s son-in-law, Caiaphas.  And while Annas himself was no longer the high priest, he remained the “boss” of the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem, largely because he controlled the Temple markets.  When Jesus booted the moneychangers out of the Temple, Jesus’s actions hit Annas squarely in the pocketbook.  So, after Annas learned of Jesus’s arrest, Annas told the authorities, “Bring him to me.”

In the United States, a criminal defendant may invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions that might incriminate him.  Jewish law is a little different.  Under Jewish law, a prosecutor may not even ask a question that could incriminate a criminal defendant.  Annas, as the former high priest, was certainly aware of the requirements of Jewish law.  Yet, he did exactly what Jewish law forbids:  he asked Jesus to incriminate himself and his disciples.  Jesus reminded Annas of the requirements of Jewish law, effectively telling Annas:  “If you really want to know the truth, then go find witnesses.  You are not entitled to cross-examine me.”

We all must choose where we will store our treasures.  Annas and Lawrence Murphy chose to build for themselves empires on earth, seeking to terrorize or eliminate anyone who might dare to oppose them.  Less than a year after Murphy ordered Tunstall’s death, Murphy himself died of cancer.  Murphy’s empire on earth was useless to him after his death.  So too was Annas’s empire.  Jesus was not a rich man, he was not an influential politician, and he was not a “boss.”  He died as a common criminal.  But he is, and always has been, the King of Kings.  Our treasure is in him.  God’s empire is eternal.

Our Father in heaven, holy is your name!  May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  And may we always know that our treasure is in you, not in the things of this world.  Amen.


Sharing the Promise: The Maundy of Maundy Thursday

April 21, 2011

By Dr. Linda Brupbacher, an education professor at Houston Baptist University as well as a Bible study teacher and a newly ordained deacon at South Main Baptist Church. Linda is Hart’s wife, Lee and Lori’s mom, Lauren and Raymond’s mother-in-law and Will’s grandmother.

Most of us associate Thursday of Holy Week with the Lord’s Supper and Garden of Gethsemane events.  However, neither of these is the reason for the “Maundy” label.  “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the Latin phrase that is translated  “A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).   After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He issued this new command (mandatum).

Walking dusty roads in sandals often resulted in really dirty feet.  The custom was to provide foot washing water and towels just inside the entryway to a home. If slaves were available, the slave with the very lowest status was assigned the foot-washing task.  Even among slaves, this was considered a lowly, undesirable chore.  However, that didn’t stop Jesus from washing the disciples’ feet.

Evidently the disciples didn’t wash their own feet as they entered the upper room–so sometime early that evening Jesus knelt and washed their feet.  Scripture offers no indication of prior conversation about the need for clean feet or discussion about who would or should do the foot washing.  Jesus simply noticed the need and acted to meet it.  It was an act of humility and service.  And, it clearly illustrated the new commandment:  love each other as I have loved you.

This commandment is so consistent with Jesus’ life and with His other teachings that its label as “new” seems somewhat surprising.  However, its content isn’t surprising at all.  Jesus consistently advocated and modeled loving people.

Loving one another is one of those things that sounds simple– but isn’t always easy.  Jesus cared, He noticed, and He acted—and we are expected to do likewise.  How to actually do this is one of the challenges of Maundy Thursday and of everyday as we attempt to more deeply share the promise.  Choosing whether or not to do this isn’t really presented as an option.

Heavenly Father,

Help us follow Jesus’ model of humility and service—of truly loving others.  Erase any self-centeredness, pride or fear that might keep us from doing this.  Help us notice the needs of others and act to help meet those needs.  Please give us humble, compassionate, servant hearts that compel us to live this commandment.   Amen.

Looking forward to Easter Celebration

March 29, 2010

By Tom Williams, Church Administrator & Minister to Senior Adults

With all of the activities that have captured our attention of the last week, I hope that we will now focus on the celebration of Easter. The is truly the apex of our Christian Celebrations. The church at South Main Baptist is prepared for this special event. Invite your family and friends to be a part of this Sunday’s Bible Studies and Worship.

In advance, I say thank you to the choir that is preparing special celebratory music for the occasion.

Christ is risen!


God’s Hand Revealed – By Estela Cavignac

October 27, 2009

God's Hand Revealed (72 dpi)Having been raised in a traditional Southern Baptist home and church, I have always been aware of God’s presence in my life. But never in my life has God’s hand been more clearly revealed than over the course of this last year.

It started at 2:30am on Sept 13th, with Hurricane Ike. That night, I saw God’s hand revealed not only through the power of that storm, but also through God’s ability to protect and comfort me, as all alone in the dark, I faced fear for the first time in my life. It was my experience that night that led me to finally listen to God’s call, and join South Main on October 5, 2008.

Was it a coincidence that exactly four months later, on February 13th, I would find myself in a situation with my son that I just couldn’t control or fix by myself? Was it a coincidence that I joined a church that promises to be the family of God for us? I am confident that once again, it was God’s Hand being revealed and that He knew that we were going to need a family of grace to see us through that very difficult time.

Was it a coincidence that I didn’t know that my best friend of sixteen years has only one sister whose husband is an attorney for Houston Independent School District who wrote the HISD Student Code of Conduct? Or that she just happened to be at their house on the day I had gone to speak to her about this very difficult situation? I know for a fact that it was God’s Hand at work because he pulled into his driveway just as I finished explaining my situation to my best friend and he was leaving for Navy Reserve training in four days; the same day we had a meeting scheduled with the school’s Dean of Students. That is GOD!

I also had no way of knowing that going through that very difficult situation with my son would lead to his and his friend’s public profession of faith on Easter Sunday, and their baptism on Mother’s Day! But I do know that it, too, was God’s Hand at work.

Believe me, I could write a book about the way God’s Hand has been revealed to me over the course of this last year. From my truck being stolen on Sunday, August 2nd  and recovered on Sunday, August 16th during our Companions in Christ study of the Beatitudes; to the Financial Aid Adjuster who gave me an instant $900 grant on August 13th so I could start school on August 24th; to Diana Cardenas, the body shop receptionist who talked her boss into waiving the $500 deductible for the repairs to my stolen truck. Only God can reveal His strong, loving hands in our lives by “taking the impossible, making it harder, and then getting it done!”

Thank you, God, for always revealing yourself to us, if we only look for You.