ay 45 – Jesus Handed Over to Death

Day 45 – Jesus Handed Over to Death. April 19, 2019

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. John 19:16-42

On this Good Friday, simply meditate on the Scriptures above. The Journey to the Cross has come to completion.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the Cross. You suffered for me. You bled for me. You were tortured, beaten, spit upon, scourged — Your body was broken and Your blood spilled out, for me. Lord, I am so unworthy of Your sacrifice. I am so unworthy of Your love. I cannot fathom the great cost You paid for me, it is beyond my understanding. I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, and an awe of Your lovingkindness toward me. All I can say is thank You. And all I can do is give all I have, and all I am in worship, and service to You. You are my Lord, my King, and my God! Amen and 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 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 39 – Jesus Will Give Us All Things Through the Spirit

Day 39 – Jesus Will Give Us All Things Through the Spirit. April 13, 2019

When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” John 16:8-15

This Advocate will lead us into all truth. He will convict of sin, so that we know what is wrong in our lives — but also convict us of righteousness, what we do right! He will tell us everything that we need to know from our Lord, Jesus. But Jesus also tells us that, “All that belongs to the Father is mine.” Jesus has access to everything that belongs to the Father. And Jesus will make known to us through the Spirit all we need to know. Ultimately, Jesus’ Journey to the Cross was about restoring us to the Father. And He does this right now! We have access to the Father through His son Jesus, and we have access to Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Everything the Father has, Jesus has. Everything Jesus has, the Spirit has. Everything the Spirit has, we have. We have all things through the Spirit!

Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us what we need through the Holy Spirit. Teach me to listen to the Spirit that leads me into all truth. Give me what I need to know, when I need to know it. Help me to be patient when it is not my time to have or to know. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to be with me. Speak, Lord. I’m listening. 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 33 – Jesus the Way, Truth, and Life

Day 33 – Jesus the Way, Truth, and Life. April 7, 2019

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7

Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them, and that they “know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas’ response, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus very plainly tells Thomas that He is the Way. The Way to Jesus is to follow what He did! We don’t have to move to the Middle East and walk exactly where He did — He laid out a pattern for us to follow in the way we walk through life. Jesus also tells Thomas that He is the Truth. If we want to know Truth, we must know Jesus. What He says is true, what He does is true, He is Truth. Lastly, Jesus tells Thomas that He is the Life. In Jesus we find a life that is more fulfilling, more beautiful, more real, more purposeful…this is not just ordinary life, this is extraordinary life!

Lord Jesus, thank You for showing me the Way, the Truth and the Life. You have shown me the pattern, help me to follow it. You have shown me the Truth, help me live in it. You have shown me Life, help me live it to the fullest and fill out this life with the same passion and love that You filled it with. I want to come to You, Lord…help me stay the course and know the way. Amen.

Day 32 – Jesus Gives a New Command

Day 32 – Jesus Gives a New Command. April 6, 2019

When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once. “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! John 13:31-38

Jesus has just been betrayed by one of His close friends. And He warns Peter, one of His closest friends, that he too will betray Jesus not once, but three times. In the midst of all this betrayal, Jesus gives His disciples a new command — “Love one another.” This would be the sign that all men would know that one is a follower, a disciple, of Jesus — by the way we love one another. We are to love each other, not only as we love ourselves, but as Jesus has loved us. This type of higher love will be the evidence of our walk with Jesus. All men, everyone, will know that we belong to Him, that we know Him. There will be no mistake. The way of the Cross, the journey to the Cross is characterized by loving others.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love for me. Help me to love others the same way. Forgive me when I fail. Remind me that Your love went further than I think possible. Remind me that Your love laid down everything, Your very life, for me. My love seems so shallow in comparison sometimes…Lord, help me to love with the same depth and breadth that You have loved me. Change me into a Lover like You! Amen.

Day 31 – Jesus Confronts Satan

Day 31 – Jesus Confronts Satan. April 5, 2019

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” John 13:21-27

Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples. This man had witnessed the miracles, heard the teachings, walked many a mile, shared food and life with Jesus. Even those we may have trusted most in life can disappoint us, perhaps even betray us. Only five days ago, we read that Judas chastised Mary for pouring out a year’s worth of wages upon Jesus, as John points out, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” Judas had been around the things of faith, the miracles, around Jesus Himself…but slowly he had become hardened, calloused to his Master’s voice. I find it interesting that we see the very moment when Judas makes the decision to carry out his betrayal, and at that moment — Satan enters him. He became available for possession, by his decision to give away his passion for Jesus. So Jesus is no longer speaking to Judas, His disciple, but rather He is confronting Satan himself when He says, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”

Lord Jesus, thank You for confronting Satan himself and disarming him of his ability to hold on to us through sin and death. Please help me to never harden my heart to Your teaching, never deafen my ears to Your Word. May I always be ready to respond to Your command and never be carried off with the promise of wealth or what the world may promise in return for my betrayal. May I never be overcome by evil, but always ready to overcome evil with good. May I only and always be filled by the Holy Spirit, so that there is never any availability to Satan’s control or possession. Amen.

Day 26 – Jesus Anointed for Burial

Day 26 – Jesus Anointed for Burial. March 31, 2019

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
John 12:1-8

Mary takes a jar of pure nard, worth a year’s wages, and pours out the whole bottle upon her Lord, Jesus’ feet. This extravagant display of worship earned her no praise from the disciples, but instead rebuke. Now it may have been the traitor, Judas, who voiced it, but it is certain a few of the others were similarly concerned about the financial viability of this transaction. It didn’t make sense in financial terms to do this. But it made all the sense in the world to anoint Jesus for burial, since those burying Him would be so rushed after His crucifixion that no time was left for proper burial preparation (see Luke 23:55-24:1). But the disciples still did not understand the end game. That Jesus was going to die. If they had known, would they have also worshiped as extravagantly as Mary?

Lord Jesus, You are worth more than any wages I could ever earn. I know that I am often concerned with the practical dollars and cents of life. But I am reminded by Mary’s worship of You that no cost is too high, no sacrifice to big to offer to You for all You have done for me. Forgive me for my stingy worship, my meager offerings…remind me that I am to worship You extravagantly and unabashedly! Amen.