Peter Beskendorf was Martin Luther’s barber. Peter was a man with his own troubles.
It is reported that Peter, in a moment of drunken rage while at a family meal, stabbed his own son-in-law to death!
Partly through Luther’s intervention, Peter was sent away rather than put to death for his crime.
During their regular conversations from the barber’s chair, Peter learnt what we now call “A simple way to pray”.
The deep conviction of Luther’s way of praying is that we need to Word of God to shape our prayer, lest we just pray without any of God’s Word at the centre and leave ourselves prone to further trusting in ourselves.
He addressed the great difficulty we have in praying – that of distracting thought. Luther gives Peter a way to “warm up his heart” for conversation with the Lord morning and evening.
It is in the Word-centred warming up of the heart in prayer that he gives a particular way or hearing the Word.
As a result of hearing this Word:
Instruction – what is the Lord teaching me?
Confession – what do I need to confess to God?
Thanks – what can I thank God for?
Supplication – What do I ask the Lord for?
The passion of Jesus happens at the pinnacle of the Old Testament year – the Passover. This must be a new Passover meal – a new relationship by which God will continue to love his people and love his world.
This new covenant relationship being established includes all the “wrong people”. A leper, which whom does the unthinkable – he east at Simon’s house.
An unnamed woman who does some shameful thing in public – washed Jesus’ feet with very expensive perfume. Jesus protects her and lifts her actions to something divine – an act of pre-burial anointing of his body.
The Passover centres on the unblemished lamb slaughtered as an atoning sacrifice for the people’s sins against God. Jesus is the true Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of all people by what he is about to do – be willingly slaughtered for the life of the world.
We are called to confess our judgmentalism of those “wrong people”.
We are called to confess that we are like Judas at times, betraying the grace of God in Jesus to save ourselves embarrassment or hardship for his name. He is right to judge us as he offers us life in what he would soon do for us.
We are called to acknowledge our lack of understanding of Jesus’ word and our focus on our own understanding, like those around the table that night the unnamed woman washed his feet.
We thank Jesus for undergoing this and being with these people. Lepers, unnamed shameful women, angry barbers and even betrayers are in his circle.
We thank him for making this new relationship – based on his action and love, not ours.
We ask Jesus for the vision of faith in him that will allow us to understand him more fully and know him more completely.
We pray for his love that willingly sacrifices self-need and gives all for others’ need.
Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, so that we may know you better. Amen.