Day 44 – Jesus Rejected by the Jews

Day 44 – Jesus Rejected by the Jews. April 18, 2019

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. John 19:1-15

Jesus last step before the Cross was to face the Jews one last time. This time they reject Him out right. Pilate says he finds no basis to execute Jesus. But the Jews shout all the more, “Crucify! Crucify!” “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” This unnerves Pilate and he demands that Jesus tell him where he comes from. Jesus remains silent. Pilate tries to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders shout all the louder. Pilate brings Jesus out to display Him on the Stone Pavement — “Here is your king!” Their response, “We have no king but Caesar!” Jesus is proved correct again, for the Jews deny the Father as much as the Son in this statement. Surely the Jews have rejected God as their King, before. Ultimately, they reject Jesus Christ as King also. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isa. 53:3)

Lord Jesus, I remember that You were ejected by men. You were despised and mistreated for me. When I am rejected, I need only remember that You suffered first at the hands of sinful men, I should expect no less in following You. Lord, You stood before Your accusers, innocent. I stand guilty. You were pronounced guilty, I am pronounced innocent. There is no fairness in this, and for that I am supremely grateful. Amen.

Day 43 – Jesus Confronts Pilate

Day 43 – Jesus Confronts Pilate. April 17, 2019

Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. John 18:28-40

Jesus has already confronted the Jews (the power of Religion), he has confronted Death (the power of Nature), he has even confronted Satan himself (the power of Evil). Lastly, He confronts Pilate (the power of Humanism). Pilate is the ultimate representation of the human ideology of the day. Pilate is charged with finding the truth of the claims the Jews are bringing against Jesus. But Jesus is in charge of the conversation throughout. Pilate asks if Jesus is the King of the Jews. Jesus does not answer him, but instead asks Pilate if that is his own idea, or if someone else put him up to this line of questioning. Taken aback, Pilate quickly retorts that he is not Jewish, and that Jesus’ own people turned Him in, but then asks Jesus what he has done. Again, Jesus doesn’t answer him, but instead makes a statement that His kingdom is not of this world. Pilate thinks he has made progress — “Aha!” So You are a King then! Jesus has now gotten Pilate to state it so He does not have to! You said it, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” And finally Pilate glibly replies, “What is truth?” Jesus has just gotten to the heart of the matter. The man charged with finding the truth, has no idea what truth is! Man cannot determine truth without God…because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your truth. You confront the hearts of man and challenge us know truth. When we find that we do not, and cannot know truth apart from You, we must surrender our understanding to Yours. Help me to know truth. Help me to live the truth. And help me to introduce others to the Truth. Amen.

Day 42 – Jesus’ Loyal Friend Fails

Day 42 – Jesus’ Loyal Friend Fails. April 16, 2019

“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.” It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow. John 18:17-27

Jesus’ predictions always come true. Even the ones we wish would not. Peter was hoping that maybe he had simply misunderstood Jesus’ words. Never-the-less, standing around a fire for warmth, Peter was questioned once, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” “I am not.” A second time, questioned, a second denial. Finally a relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off questioned, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” A third time Peter denies and the rooster crows. Where was the stalwart friend, the bold defender of Christ, the professor of Jesus as Christ? The shame. The bitterness. The failure. One of Jesus’ most loyal friends, failed. Peter helplessly watched as his Friend, his Lord, journeyed to the cross alone…because he too had betrayed Him.

Lord Jesus, sometimes I forget that the betrayal was not just Judas, not just Peter, but all Your loyal disciples left You alone. I don’t want to admit that I too have betrayed You. I have disowned You more than I care to admit. Forgive me. Help me to be more faithful to You. Help me to never be ashamed of You as my Lord. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Day 41 – Jesus Protects the Disciples by His Name

Day 41 – Jesus Protects the Disciples by His Name. April 15, 2019

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” John 18:1-8

There is power in the Name of Jesus. As Jesus is in the garden, Judas comes with a detachment of soldiers (and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees) and Jesus, almost casually, asks “Who is it that you want?” Their reply, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus responds, “I am he.” At this statement, “they drew back and fell on the ground.” Trained, battle-hardened soldiers, chief priests, and Pharisees alike — all fell to the ground at Jesus statement. If there was any question that Jesus could have simple wiped these men from the face of the planet, it is set to rest. Jesus then protects His disciples by His Name — I am Jesus of Nazareth…I am He…let these men go. The Name of Jesus is powerful, for it is the Name above all names.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Name. Help me never to take Your Name in vain, but rather use Your Name appropriately to bring down the forces of darkness and bring others into Your light. You have give me Your Name, for I am a Christ-one, a Christian. Help me to bear Your Name honorably among the people of this world, that all may know I belong to You. I pray all these things in the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Day 40 – Jesus Prays for Unity

Day 40 – Jesus Prays for Unity. April 14, 2019

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:13-23

As Jesus continues His Journey to the Cross, He prays for His Disciples. He knows that they cannot be taken out of the world, for their mission is to impact the world for the Kingdom of God. But He does pray that the Father would protect them from the evil one. For clearly, the evil one is in the world and seeking whom he may devour. He also prays that they would be sanctified by the truth. Since God’s Word is truth, He is really praying that they would be sanctified by the Word. The Word cleans, sanctifies, purifies, makes us fit for God’s service. Lastly He prays, and this now includes all believers of all time, that they would be one as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. This unity is a most incredible thing, for it will be so unique, so amazing, that the world will know that Jesus loves them. All men will know that we follow Christ, when we are united in Christ Jesus as Lord.

Lord Jesus, please help me to live as an alien and a stranger in this world. Not as one who belongs to the world. Protect me from the evil one. Set me apart for Your work and will, cleanse me through Your Word and may I only be about Your Truth. Help me to live in Unity with others who bear Your holy Name. Help me to bring Unity to those who are far from You and from each other. Help me participate in Your ministry of reconciliation for all mankind. Thank You for praying for me right now, and for Your promises that are always true. Amen.

Day 38 – Jesus Must Go Away

Day 38 – Jesus Must Go Away. April 12, 2019

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. John 16:1-7

Jesus was concerned about his disciples. He had shared so much with them over the last three years. He spent practically every waking moment with them. So when His time had come to back to the Father, He was genuinely concerned for their safety and their continued growth. To equip them for His departure He armed them with the most powerful weapon He could — the Truth. He warned them that they would be cast our from the places of worship, and one day even be killed for their faith in Him. But He also told them that He would not leave them without help. Because He was leaving the Advocate (the Helper, the Comforter, the Counselor) would now be able to come. And now they would have a constant partner and guide, even in the midst of their darkest moments. Even when He goes away, Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us.

Lord Jesus, thank You for taking care of Your disciples. As hard as it is to see you go away, You have sent the Holy Spirit to be an Advocate for me. And now we are together through the power of the Holy Spirit. Help me listen to the Advocate and follow everything that He directs me to do. Help me in the midst of persecution and let me not fear anything that man may do to me. I love You, Lord. Amen.

Day 37 – Jesus’ Followers Will Be Like Jesus

Day 37 – Jesus’ Followers Will Be Like Jesus. April 11, 2019

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. John 15:18-27

To follow Jesus means we will be like Him. The world hated Jesus, it will hate us as well. The world persecuted Jesus, it will persecute us as well. If the world obeyed Jesus’ teaching, it will obey ours as well (assuming we teach what He did). Jesus testified about the Father, we must testify about the Father. The world loves us when we belong to it. But Jesus reminds us that we are not of this world. We are not greater than He, so we can expect no less than what He endured. When we follow Jesus, we will be like Jesus.

Lord Jesus, I want to be like You. Help me to endure what You endured. Help me to do what You did. I should expect no less than what You experienced. May my life be a reflection of Yours, and may it be unmistakable that I am a follower of Yours. Amen.

Day 36 – Jesus Calls Us Friend

Day 36 – Jesus Calls Us Friend. April 10, 2019

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17

Jesus really is a friend that is closer than a brother. Part of abiding or remaining in Jesus, is keeping or obeying His commands. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Jesus lays His life down for His friends, and there is no greater love than this. We are to do likewise and lay our lives down for Him. Not counting our lives as our own, but allowing Him to guide us and command us. And His command? Love one another. When we do this Jesus’ joy will be in us and our joy will be complete. Jesus calls us Friend.

Lord Jesus, thank You for calling me Friend. I am not always the best friend to You. Please forgive me for not remaining in Your love. Help me to love others the way You loved me. I want to lay my life down right now for You…it is Yours, it belongs to You. Do with my life as You please. Fill me with Your joy and make my joy complete in You. Thank You for loving me, as the Father loves me. Amen.

Day 35 – Jesus is the Vine

Day 35 – Jesus is the Vine. April 9, 2019

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:1-8

Jesus points out to His disciples a few natural truths: if a branch does not bear fruit, it is not connected to the vine; if a branch is withered and dead, it is not connected to the vine; a branch connected to the vine cannot help but be fruitful; a branch that bears fruit must be pruned, in order to be more fruitful. Remaining in Jesus, abiding in Him is crucial in the life of a disciple of Jesus. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Apart from Him, we wither and die. In Him, we have life. In Him, we produce fruit — much fruit, and fruit that will last! In Him, we accomplish the purposes for which we were created. When we produce fruit, just like a natural branch we get heavy and hang low. God the Father, the vine dresser — the Gardener, trims or prunes all who are fruitful. Not to cause them pain or discomfort, but rather to make us even more fruitful! He not only removes fruit, but He also trims away things that hinder growth. Dead branches cannot stay attached to the vine because they do not share the nourishment and the sap that the vine provides. They fall away from the vine because they are dead, they are gathered together, thrown into the fire and burned. Not a pretty picture. Remaining in Jesus means showing the fruit of obedience. So, how fruity are you?

Lord Jesus, I want to remain in You. Help me to practice obedience and produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Help me to abide in Your presence and continually be nourished by Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Lord, trim away the things in my life that hinder my fruitfulness and stunt my growth. Thank You for the promises You give and Your faithfulness to remain in me if I remain in You. I love You, Lord. Amen.

Day 34 – Jesus Gives the Promise of the Holy Spirit

Day 34 – Jesus Gives the Promise of the Holy Spirit. April 8, 2019

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:12-21

Jesus took the Journey to the Cross with His friends, but ultimately walks the last portion alone. How good to know that we do not have to walk the Journey of the Cross alone. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit — another counsellor, guide, and friend — will be with us, and will live in us. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to keep Jesus’ commands. He leads us into all truth, and helps us love the way that Jesus loves. The Journey to the Cross can be lonely, but in truth, we are never alone.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise of the Holy Spirit. Walking the way of the Cross does seem lonely, and often times we can be misunderstood or even hated for taking this journey. But Your Holy Spirit brings a presence and comfort, He brings wisdom and peace, He brings understanding and help when we need it most. Thank You for the promise and the presence of Your Holy Spirit! Amen.