Sunday, April 4, 2021 5:37 AM

Easter Sunday: His Resurrection Destiny

Sunday, April 4, 2021 5:37 AM
Sunday, April 4, 2021 5:37 AM

Luke 24:26

26 Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Matthew 28

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, because an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. He rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards were so shaken by fear of him that they became like dead men.

The angel told the women, “Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has risen from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you.”

So, departing quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, they ran to tell his disciples the news. Just thena]">[a] Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” They came up, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

11 As they were on their way, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 After the priestsb]">[b] had assembled with the elders and agreed on a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money 13 and told them, “Say this, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him while we were sleeping.’ 14 If this reaches the governor’s ears, we will deal withc]">[c] him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 They took the money and did as they were instructed, and this story has been spread among Jewish people to this day.

16 The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped,d]">[d] but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples ofe]">[e] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember,f]">[f] I am with you always,g]">[g] to the end of the age.”

 


Our Lord’s Cross is the gateway into His life. His resurrection means that He has the power to convey His life to me. When I was born again, I received the very life of the risen Lord from Jesus Himself. 

Christ’s resurrection destiny—His foreordained purpose—was to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We never have exactly the same relationship to God that the Son of God has, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life—a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul’s determined purpose was to “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Jesus prayed, “. . . as You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:2). The term Holy Spirit is actually another name for the experience of eternal life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the deity of God who continues to apply the power of the atonement by the Cross of Christ to our lives. Thank God for the glorious and majestic truth that His Spirit can work the very nature of Jesus into us, if we will only obey Him.

Saturday, April 3, 2021 5:30 AM

Saturday: The Collison of God and Sin

Saturday, April 3, 2021 5:30 AM
Saturday, April 3, 2021 5:30 AM

1 Peter 2:24

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his woundsa]">[a] you have been healed.

Matthew 27:62-66

62 The next day, which followed the preparation day, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that while this deceiver was still alive he said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give orders that the tomb be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come, steal him, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Taket]">[t] guards,” Pilate told them. “Go and make it as secure as you know how.” 66 They went and secured the tomb by setting a seal on the stone and placing the guards.

 


The cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shook the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross—He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God. The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus— He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating “God was manifested in the flesh . . .” from “. . . He made Him . . . to be sin for us . . .” (1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both. 

The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there. The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.

Friday, April 2, 2021 5:23 AM

Good Friday: It Is Finished

Friday, April 2, 2021 5:23 AM
Friday, April 2, 2021 5:23 AM

John 17:4

I have glorified you on the earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

Matthew 26:57-68, 27:1-61

57 Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. 58 Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death, 60 but they could not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward.a]">[a] Finally, twob]">[b] who came forward 61 stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 The high priest stood up and said to him, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the futurec]">[c] you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”d]">[d]

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? See, now you’ve heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your decision?”

They answered, “He deserves death!” 67 Then they spat in his face and beat him; others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who was it that hit you?”

When daybreak came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put him to death. After tying him up, they led him away and handed him over to Pilate,a]">[a] the governor.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said.

“What’s that to us?” they said. “See to it yourself!” So he threw the silver into the temple and departed. Then he went and hanged himself.

The chief priests took the silver and said, “It’s not permitted to put it into the temple treasury, since it is blood money.” They conferred together and bought the potter’s field with it as a burial place for foreigners. Therefore that field has been called “Field of Blood” to this day. Then what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: They tookb]">[b] the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him whose price was set by the Israelites, 10 and they gavec]">[c] them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.d]">[d]

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him.

Jesus answered, “You say so.” 12 While he was being accused by the chief priests and elders, he didn’t answer.

13 Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how much they are testifying against you?” 14 But he didn’t answer him on even one charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.

15 At the festival the governor’s custom was to release to the crowd a prisoner they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.e]">[e] 17 So when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Who is it you want me to release for you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was because of envy that they had handed him over.

19 While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of him.”

20 The chief priests and the elders, however, persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to execute Jesus. 21 The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”

“Barabbas!” they answered.

22 Pilate asked them, “What should I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?”

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 Then he said, “Why? What has he done wrong?”

But they kept shouting all the more, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.f]">[f] See to it yourselves!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them and, after having Jesus flogged, handed him over to be crucified.

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and gathered the whole companyg]">[g] around him. 28 They stripped him and dressed him in a scarlet robe. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on his head, and placed a staff in his right hand. And they knelt down before him and mocked him: “Hail, king of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on him, took the staff, and kept hitting him on the head. 31 After they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.

32 As they were going out, they found a Cyrenian man named Simon. They forced him to carry his cross. 33 When they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), 34 they gave him wineh]">[h] mixed with gall to drink. But when he tasted it, he refused to drink it. 35 After crucifying him, they divided his clothes by casting lots.i]">[i] 36 Then they sat down and were guarding him there. 37 Above his head they put up the charge against him in writing: This Is Jesusthe King of the Jews.

38 Then two criminalsj]">[j] were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 Those who passed by were yelling insults atk]">[k] him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, with the scribes and elders,l]">[l] mocked him and said, 42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the King of Israel! Let himm]">[m] come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God rescue him now—if he takes pleasure in him!n]">[n] For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way even the criminals who were crucified with him taunted him.

45 From noon until three in the afternoon,o]">[o] darkness came over the whole land.p]">[p] 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemáq]">[q] sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”r]">[r]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling for Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and offered him a drink. 49 But the rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 But Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. 51 Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And they came out of the tombs after his resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.

54 When the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

55 Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after him were there, watching from a distance. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

57 When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body. Then Pilate ordered that its]">[s] be released. 59 So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in clean, fine linen, 60 and placed it in his new tomb, which he had cut into the rock. He left after rolling a great stone against the entrance of the tomb. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated there, facing the tomb.

 


The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God. There is no place for seeing Jesus Christ as a martyr. His death was not something that happened to Him—something that might have been prevented. His death was the very reason He came. 

Never build your case for forgiveness on the idea that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us. That contradicts the revealed truth of God in Jesus Christ. It makes the Cross unnecessary, and the redemption “much ado about nothing.” God forgives sin only because of the death of Christ. God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son, and Jesus is exalted as Savior because of His death. “We see Jesus . . . for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:9). The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ—“It is finished!” (John 19:30). That is the final word in the redemption of humankind. 

Anything that lessens or completely obliterates the holiness of God, through a false view of His love, contradicts the truth of God as revealed by Jesus Christ. Never allow yourself to believe that Jesus Christ stands with us, and against God, out of pity and compassion, or that He became a curse for us out of sympathy for us. Jesus Christ became a curse for us by divine decree. Our part in realizing the tremendous meaning of His curse is the conviction of sin. Conviction is given to us as a gift of shame and repentance; it is the great mercy of God. Jesus Christ hates the sin in people, and Calvary is the measure of His hatred.

Thursday, April 1, 2021 5:19 AM

Thursday: His Agony and Our Success

Thursday, April 1, 2021 5:19 AM
Thursday, April 1, 2021 5:19 AM

Matthew 26:17-46

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

18 “Go into the city to a certain man,” he said, “and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time is near; I am celebrating the Passover at your placea]">[a] with my disciples.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 20 When evening came, he was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 Deeply distressed, each one began to say to him, “Surely not I, Lord?”

23 He replied, “The one who dipped his hand with me in the bowl—he will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Judas, his betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

“You have said it,” he told him.

26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is my blood of the covenant,b]">[b] which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But 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.” 30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

31 Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight all of you will fall away because of me, for it is written:

I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.c]">[c]

32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

33 Peter told him, “Even if everyone falls away because of you, I will never fall away.”

34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”

35 “Even if I have to die with you,” Peter told him, “I will never deny you,” and all the disciples said the same thing.

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 He said to them, “I am deeply grievedd]">[d] to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” 39 Going a little farther,e]">[e] he fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Again, a second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if thisf]">[f] cannot passg]">[g] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And he came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.

44 After leaving them, he went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? See, the time is near. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up; let’s go. See, my betrayer is near.”

 


We can never fully comprehend Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, but at least we don’t have to misunderstand it. It is the agony of God and man in one Person, coming face to face with sin. We cannot learn about Gethsemane through personal experience. Gethsemane and Calvary represent something totally unique—they are the gateway into life for us. 

It was not death on the cross that Jesus agonized over in Gethsemane. In fact, He stated very emphatically that He came with the purpose of dying. His concern here was that He might not get through this struggle as the Son of Man. He was confident of getting through it as the Son of God— Satan could not touch Him there. But Satan’s assault was that our Lord would come through for us on His own solely as the Son of Man. If Jesus had done that, He could not have been our Savior (see Hebrews 9:11–15). Read the record of His agony in Gethsemane in light of His earlier wilderness temptation—“. . . the devil . . . departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). In Gethsemane, Satan came back and was overthrown again. Satan’s final assault against our Lord as the Son of Man was in Gethsemane. 

The agony in Gethsemane was the agony of the Son of God in fulfilling His destiny as the Savior of the world. The veil is pulled back here to reveal all that it cost Him to make it possible for us to become sons of God. His agony was the basis for the simplicity of our salvation. The Cross of Christ was a triumph for the Son of Man. It was not only a sign that our Lord had triumphed, but that He had triumphed to save the human race. Because of what the Son of Man went through, every human being has been provided with a way of access into the very presence of God.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 5:15 AM

Wednesday: Acquainted With Grief

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 5:15 AM
Wednesday, March 31, 2021 5:15 AM

Isaiah 53:3-6

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;b]">[b]
he was despised, and we didn’t value him.

Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,
and he carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
forc]">[c] the iniquity of us all.

 


We are not “acquainted with grief ” in the same way our Lord was acquainted with it. We endure it and live through it, but we do not become intimate with it. At the beginning of our lives we do not bring ourselves to the point of dealing with the reality of sin. We look at life through the eyes of reason and say that if a person will control his instincts, and educate himself, he can produce a life that will slowly evolve into the life of God. But as we continue on through life, we find the presence of something which we have not yet taken into account, namely, sin—and it upsets all of our thinking and our plans. Sin has made the foundation of our thinking unpredictable, uncontrollable, and irrational. We have to recognize that sin is a fact of life, not just a shortcoming. Sin is blatant mutiny against God, and either sin or God must die in my life. The New Testament brings us right down to this one issue—if sin rules in me, God’s life in me will be killed; if God rules in me, sin in me will be killed. There is nothing more fundamental than that. The culmination of sin was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and what was true in the history of God on earth will also be true in your history and in mine—that is, sin will kill the life of God in us. 

We must mentally bring ourselves to terms with this fact of sin. It is the only explanation why Jesus Christ came to earth, and it is the explanation of the grief and sorrow of life.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 5:06 AM

Tuesday: Are You Going On With Jesus?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 5:06 AM
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 5:06 AM

Matthew 24:1-25

As Jesus left and was going out of the temple, his disciples came up and called his attention to its buildings. He replied to them, “Do you see all these things? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here on another that will not be thrown down.”

While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus replied to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You are going to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, because these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be faminesa]">[a] and earthquakes in various places. All these events are the beginning of labor pains.

“Then they will hand you over to be persecuted, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 Then many will fall away, betray one another, and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the worldb]">[b] as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation,c]">[c] spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (let the reader understand), 16 “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 A man on the housetopd]">[d] must not come down to get things out of his house, 18 and a man in the field must not go back to get his coat. 19 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! 20 Pray that your escape may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For at that time there will be great distress,e]">[e] the kind that hasn’t taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again. 22 Unless those days were cut short, no one wouldf]">[f] be saved. But those days will be cut short because of the elect.

23 “If anyone tells you then, ‘See, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Over here!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note: I have told you in advance.

 


It is true that Jesus Christ is with us through our temptations, but are we going on with Him through His temptations? Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). 

The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going on with Jesus in the life we are living right now? 

We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. May it never be! It is God who engineers our circumstances, and whatever they may be we must see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us? 

Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow—but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19).

Monday, March 29, 2021 5:59 AM

Monday: Will You Lay Down Your Life?

Monday, March 29, 2021 5:59 AM
Monday, March 29, 2021 5:59 AM

John 15:13-15

13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his mastera]">[a] is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.

Matthew 21:12-19

12 Jesus went into the templea]">[a] and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer,b]">[b] but you are making it a den of thieves!”c]">[c]

14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that he did and the children shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to him, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”

Jesus replied, “Yes, have you never read:

You have preparedd]">[d] praise
from the mouths of infants and nursing babies?” e]">[e]

17 Then he left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

18 Early in the morning, as he was returning to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, he went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” At once the fig tree withered.

 


Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). He had a magnificent sense of the heroic. For us to be incapable of making this same statement Peter made would be a bad thing—our sense of duty is only fully realized through our sense of heroism. Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. 

We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways. There was only one bright-shining moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration. It was there that He emptied Himself of His glory for the second time, and then came down into the demon-possessed valley (see Mark 9:1–29). For thirty-three years Jesus laid down His life to do the will of His Father. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Yet it is contrary to our human nature to do so. 

If I am a friend of Jesus, I must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him. It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is. Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” And Jesus says to us, “. . . I have called you friends. . . .” Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life.

Sunday, March 28, 2021 5:56 AM

Palm Sunday: The Bewildering Call of God

Sunday, March 28, 2021 5:56 AM
Sunday, March 28, 2021 5:56 AM

Luke 18:31-34

31 Then he took the Twelve aside and told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For he will be handed over to the Gentiles, and he will be mocked, insulted, spit on; 33 and after they flog him, they will kill him, and he will rise on the third day.”

34 They understood none of these things. The meaning of the sayinga]">[a] was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Matthew 21:1-11

When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once.”

This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

Tell Daughter Zion,
“See, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt,
the foal of a donkey.”a]">[a]

The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their clothes on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. Then the crowds who went ahead of him and those who followed shouted:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name
of the Lord!b]">[b]
Hosanna in the highest heaven!

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 


God called Jesus Christ to what seemed absolute disaster. And Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death, leading every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. His life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God’s. But what seemed to be failure from man’s standpoint was a triumph from God’s standpoint, because God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose. 

This bewildering call of God comes into our lives as well. The call of God can never be understood absolutely or explained externally; it is a call that can only be perceived and understood internally by our true inner-nature. The call of God is like the call of the sea—no one hears it except the person who has the nature of the sea in him. What God calls us to cannot be definitely stated, because His call is simply to be His friend to accomplish His own purposes. Our real test is in truly believing that God knows what He desires. The things that happen do not happen by chance—they happen entirely by the decree of God. God is sovereignly working out His own purposes. If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, “I wonder why God allowed this or that?” And we begin to see that the compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose. A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.