April 27, 2014

Scripture and Comments, April 28-May 3

Monday, April 28

Lectionary

Psalm 1, 3, Ex. 13:3-16, Heb. 1
Psalm 4, 11, Is. 40:1-11, 1 Pet. 1:1-12

Commentary, Hebrews 1

Hebrews has one resounding theme, the absolute supremacy of Christ. He is the Son of God, which is to say He is God, the Second Person of the Triune God who is One, yet Three. As the Son of God He is God’s final and ultimate revelation. In times past God has spoken through the prophets. To them He gave visions and visitations and signs and wonders. But Jesus is the final Message of God. The prophets wrote of Him. The visions, signs, and wonders were given to guide Israel toward the fullness of time when Christ would appear and begin to bring all things together under Himself. Therefore, Christ is superior to visions and signs. They are actually superseded by Him. They are no longer needed. God spoke to us in His Son, who gave His word to the Apostles, who recorded it in the Bible. Thus, the Bible is our authority. We should not expect more visions or prophecies or signs or feelings. We should not expect God to speak to us through such measures. We have a much surer way of knowing God; He is revealed in the Bible. To seek to know the will of God apart from the Bible is to treat the Bible as insufficient, and that is the same as saying Christ is insufficient.

This Word of God, the Son of God is the brightness of His glory and the image of His person (1:3). “Image” in the Greek is the word from which we derive our English word, “character.” It means Christ is not an image of God as a portrait or statue is an image of a person. Christ is the living expression of God. He is the “character” (nature) of God in a living, human form. Therefore, He is superior to angels. Angels are great and powerful beings. They are good, they are strong, and they dwell in the immediate presence of God. They serve Him and worship Him and do His will. Yet they are nothing in comparison to Christ. He is their Lord. He is their Creator and Master. He gives their powers to them. He gives their existence to them. He can take it away in less than an instant if He wants to.
 

Tuesday, April 29

Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 5, Ex. 13:17-14:4, Heb. 2:1-8
Evening – Psalm 15, 24, Is. 40:12-17, 1 Pet. 1:13

Commentary, Hebrews 2:1-8

If an angel were to appear to you at this very moment, you would probably be filled with fear. If the angel told you to do something, you would probably obey immediately. Yet One far greater than all the angels has appeared on earth, and bids you believe in Him and keep His commandments, therefore you should give your utmost to hearing and obeying His Word. This is the point of our reading in Hebrews this morning, and it begins in the very first verse. The One who is greater than the angels is Christ Jesus, the character of God in human form, as we saw in our reading yesterday. Christ is the heir and creator of all things, who purged our sins by His own blood, and now is seated again at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:2). God has spoken to us in Him, a revelation that is complete and full and above every other communication from God. The other revelations looked forward to Him, and He is the completion of their story (Heb. 1:1).

People suffered for disobeying the word of God given through these lesser beings. This is seen in the numerous disasters suffered by Israel for their lack of obedience. If Israel was punished for disobedience to the word given through men and angels, God will surely punish those who disobey His word given through Christ Himself. If they who disobeyed angels did not escape, can anyone who disobeys the express image of God expect to escape? “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (He. 2:3). Let us give “more earnest heed” to the things God has spoken in Christ, “lest at any time we should let them slip” (2:1).

Wednesday, April 30

Lectionary

Morning – Psalm 22, 23, Ex.14:5-30, Heb. 2:9
Evening – Psalm 25, Is. 40: 18-31, 1 Pet. 2:1-10

Commentary, Hebrews 2:9

It may be good to recall that when the Lectionary only lists one verse in a chapter, as in Heb. 2:9, it means to read from verse 9 to the end of the chapter. Thus, our reading for this morning is Hebrews 2:9-18, and it reminds us again that God became a real, living human being. This theme begins in verse 9 and culminates in verse 16. Christ was made “lower than the angels” (2:9) and of the seed of Abraham (2:16). It is necessary to have this fact firmly in mind to understand the main point of this passage because an angel could not accomplish what Christ accomplished for us. If an angel had become human and gone to the cross his death would be as unable to atone for our sins as the blood of bulls and goats. Why? Because God must bear the cost of our sins, just as we must bear the cost of sins against us if we are going to continue in relationship with other people. So, God somehow remained God, yet also became fully human and participated fully in the human condition even to the point of death. He allowed Himself no special privileges. He had to live by faith, He had to live by the power of the Spirit, and he had to obey the Scriptures just as we all have to do. “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren” (2:17). But unlike us, He accomplished it all without sin.

Having made the point that Christ always was/is/will be nothing less than God who became flesh, we are now told why He did so, “that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (2:17). His full experience of the human condition allows Him to know by experience what we face in life. He was tempted. He knew physical weakness, hunger, weariness, and sickness. He was constrained by time and space. He suffered these things, and having experienced them, He is able to succour us (2:18). “Succour” summarises this whole passage, for it summarises the work of Christ. It means to have empathy and to feel our sorrows and needs. But it also means to apply healing and help to our wounds. Our wound is our sin and the wrath of God. He heals that wound by bearing it in Himself on the cross, reconciling us to God. But His work does not end there. It continues, as He calls His people unto Himself, builds up His Church, leads us into God by His Word and Spirit, and, finally, places us in His immediate presence in that land where sin and sorrow will never touch us again, forever.

Thursday, May 1

Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 28, Ex. 15:20, Heb 3
Evening – Ps. 29, 46, Is. 42:1-9, 1 Pet. 2:11-17

Commentary, Hebrews 3

The Old Testament is filled with the works of great prophets. Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Samuel, were great men and great leaders, whose works have influenced the world for thousands of years. Yet none of them can compare to the work and influence of Moses. No other human being has left a stamp upon the mind and fabric of humanity that compares to that of Moses. No philosopher, no religious leader, no political leader or empire has had the global historical influence of Moses. Yet One has come among us who is far greater than Moses. This One is Christ Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our faith (3:1). He is superior to Moses as the builder is greater than the building (3:3). He is the builder of all things (3:4), and He is the builder of the Church, which is His house (3:6). Moses was a servant in His house (3:5), but Christ is the owner, the Son to whom the house belongs (3:6). Thus, the book of Hebrews emphasizes again the Divine identity of Christ. He is not just a prophet and not just a man. He is the One who sent the prophets. Moses was His servant. He created the world and all the people, and He is the owner as well as the creator of all things.

Verses 7-19 remind us to give unto Christ the honour and obedience that is His due. The verses remind us that those who disobeyed Moses suffered death in the wilderness. They were brought out of Egypt by the power of God, yet they did not enter into the Promised Land. Their unbelief sealed their fate forever, for they did not make it to the Heavenly Promised Land ay more than they made it to Canaan (38). Verse 14 is an important verse, for it tells us only those who continue in Christ to the end will be partakers of His eternal Kingdom in Heaven. This is a conclusion based on the illustration of those who died in the wilderness. They did not continue in faith in God, therefore, they did not enter Canaan. Those who appear to begin to follow Christ, but do not continue in Him to the end, will not make it to Heaven. Therefore, “Harden not your heart as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, and saw my works forty years” (3:8&9). But exhort one another, and yourself, “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13). Make no mistake, sin is deceitful, and can convince you that you are in Christ even when you are far away from Him. Please abide in Him, steadfast to the end (3:14).

Friday, May 2

Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 40:1-16, Ex. 16:1-15, Heb. 4:1-13
Evening – Ps 39, Is. 42:10-17, 1 Pet. 2:18


Commentary, Hebrews 4:1-13

Hebrews 4:1-13 continues the theme begun in verse 7 of chapter 3, namely, love and obedience to Christ. This is a pattern of the book of Hebrews. Chapter 1 tells us Christ is the Son of God who is far greater than angels. Chapter 2 tells us that since He is greater than angels, He is more worthy of our love and obedience than they. Chapter 3: 1-6 tells us Christ is greater than Moses. This is followed by an exhortation to honour and obey Him more than Moses. Today’s reading is part of that exhortation.

Verses 1-6 use a word we don’t hear much anymore, “fear.” “Let us therefore fear.” And what does it tell us to fear? Coming short of entering into His rest. The Bible is using the experience of the Hebrew people who were freed from Egyptian slavery, yet did not make it into the Promised Land. We remember that they came to its borders, but failed to enter out of fear of the Canaanites. According to Hebrews, their fear was the sin of unbelief. They simply did not trust God enough to put their lives in His hand. Therefore, they died in the wilderness rather than obey God. The point being made is that many people will appear to start the journey of faith in Christ, but will not make it to Heaven because they will not really trust God with their lives and their souls. They will go astray. They will love the things of the world more than they love God. They will pursue the things of the world, to the exclusion of God, because they will not trust God to provide for them in this life. And if they cannot trust God with their lives, they cannot trust Him with their souls. Therefore, they will be lost. They will not make it to Heaven. These people may be very religious. They may keep the outward forms of the faith carefully. They may pray and worship and read the Bible, and give money, but their hearts belong to them, not God. You can see it in them that they are afraid to trust God. They are afraid to give up their pleasures and amusements to serve Him. They find their life’s meaning in toys and recreations rather than God, and when they face challenges in life, they turn to their amusements rather than God, to see them through. At one time they “tried Jesus.” At one time they started the journey of faith in Him. But at some point they stopped trusting Him. They couldn’t face the giants, so they entered not into the Promised Land, and if they do not return to God they will not enter Heaven.

Thus, verse 7 exhorts us to follow Christ “today.” It is not to be put off. The longer we wallow in sin the harder it becomes to get up and walk in faith. The longer we put our trust in money, or things, or amusements, the harder it gets to put our trust in God. The more we love these things, the more we fear losing them, and the less we trust God to be worth more to us than they are. What if God takes them away from us? What if I have to give up my Saturday night out or my Sunday morning golf to go to Church? What means more to me, these things, or God? Today is the day to choose. In fact you will choose today. You are choosing now. Today, harden not your hearts as the Hebrews did in the wilderness. Do not turn away from God. Today trust Him with all your heart, and enter into His rest.

Verse 12 is often quoted but little understood. It means that the word of God sees into your soul and makes it plain whether you are following God or not. It cuts through your defenses and the make-believe world you create to insulate yourself from God. They are coverings of fig leaves, but to God your soul is naked, for He discerns your thoughts. He knows whether you are following Him or turning back away from Him.

Saturday, May 3

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 42, 43, Ex. 17:1-7, Heb 4:14-5:14
Evening – Ps.93, 111, Is. 43:1-7, 1 Pet. 3:1-12

Commentary, Hebrews 4:14-5:14

The rabbi was a highly honoured man in the Jewish community. Known for learning and wisdom, he was often asked to settle disputes and give counsel on a wide range of issues. And his word was usually followed gladly. Yet beloved and respected as he was, the High Priest was much more so. He lived in palatial grandeur, oversaw the services of the Temple, and was the spiritual leader and symbol of the entire Jewish religion and nation. The book of Hebrews has already told us Christ is greater than angels and Moses, now it tells us He is greater than the High Priest.

He is greater because He has passed into the heavens and because He is the Son of God. Yet He is also aware of our human trials because He experienced them Himself. He is touched by our infirmities and was in all points tried and tempted as we are, though without sin (4:15). Therefore He is merciful and welcoming to those who continue with Him, steadfast to the end (3:14). We may come to Him boldly, not arrogantly nor flippantly, but in reverence tempered with confidence in His grace, knowing that in Him we will find mercy, grace, and help (4:16).

He is greater than the human High Priest because He Himself is without sin, therefore, every aspect of His work is for His people, not Himself. The human High Priest had to offer sacrifices for his own sins, and to spend time in prayer and confession for himself (5:3), but Christ is without sin, and His ministry was given entirely for our sake.

He is greater than the High Priest because His Priestly Order is great than the Human High Priest’s. He is of the Order of Melchisedec (5:10). We will see more about Melchisedec later. The point of today’ reading is that Melchisedec was the Priest of God long before the institution of the Temple, the sacrificial system, and the order of priests that conducted the services, including the High Priest.

Therefore, let us go on with Christ into mature faith. That means there must be more to our faith than simply repeating “Christ died for my sins, so I am saved.” We must move into fully trusting Christ with our lives and souls. We must move into finding in Him our life’s meaning, our joy, our pleasure, our hope, and our comfort. In other words, our belief that Christ died for our sins must transform and direct every other aspect of our life, else it is not real faith.

April 13, 2014

Scripture and Comments, April 13-19

April 14, Day Thirty-five

Lectionary                                                       

Morning - Psalm 71, Isaiah 42:1-7, John 14:1-14
Evening - Psalms 42 & 43, Lamentations 1:7-12, John 14:15-31

Commentary

"Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known me, Philip? (vs9).  Philip knew much about Jesus.  He knew Jesus could heal the sick and raise the dead, for he had seen that with his own eyes.  He knew Jesus was the Messiah, the One of whom Moses and the prophets wrote (Jn. 1:45).  He had heard His sermons and seen His compassion.  He had walked with Jesus for three years, sharing hardship, ridicule, and danger with Him.  Yet he did not know Jesus.  He did not know Jesus was God in human form (Jn. 1:1-14).  He did not know Jesus was the revelation of the Father (Jn. 1:18).  He did not know that if he has "seen" Jesus he has seen the Father.


Devotional Thoughts

To "see" Jesus is more than to simply view Him with our eyes.  It is to see Him with understanding and faith.  If we see Jesus in this way, we have seen God.  But it is possible to see Him with neither understanding nor faith.  To see Him as a good man, a prophet, a saint, but not Immanuel, God with us is to see Him without understanding, for it is to miss the real Jesus.  To see Him as God, yet remain unaffected and unchanged by this knowledge is to see Him without faith.  Let us not be as Philip.  Let us understand and believe.

April 15, Day Thirty-six

Lectionary                                                       

Morning - Psalms 6 & 12, Hosea 14, John 15:1-16
Evening - Psalm51, Lamentations 2:10-19, John 15:17

Commentary

John 15 tells us those who abide in Jesus are like branches growing from a luxuriant vine.  Those who do not abide in Him are like dead branches, and are removed and cast into the fire.  To abide in Christ means many things, one of the obvious is to draw life from Him.  Our physical existence comes from Christ.  Remove His sustaining power from us and we cease to exist.  But our spiritual existence comes from Christ also.  Just as a branch that does not draw its life from the vine gradually withers and dies, a soul that does not draw its life from Christ dies.

Devotional Thoughts

A Christian's goal is to live a quiet and holy life every moment of every day.  During Lent we have looked at what a holy life is, so as we come to the close of Lent it is natural that we ask ourselves a question; am I really serious about holiness?  This is a difficult question to answer because we have a tendency to fool ourselves, and to convince ourselves that we are really doing better than we are.  So we need to be brutally honest with ourselves, and we need to base our answers on evidence, rather than illusions.  Are you serious about holiness?  What in your life shows that you are?


April 16, Day Thirty-seven

Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 94, Zechariah 12:9,10, 13:1-9, John 16:1-15
Evening - Psalm 74 Lamentations 3:1-33, John 16:16

Commentary

Today's readings in the Gospel of John take us through the 16th chapter.  Jesus and His disciples are still in the upper room where they have eaten the Passover meal and the Last Supper.  Judas has gone (Jn. 13:30), and Christ is using the few precious hours left to teach the disciples.  Christ speaks of many things, from the way the world will treat the disciples to the coming of the Holy Spirit, called here, the "Comforter" (17:7).  The disciples understand nothing of what He is saying. His crucifixion will almost crush them emotionally and spiritually.  Their faith in Christ will die with Him on the cross because they do not understand that He came to die for their sins and to bring them into a Kingdom of the Spirit.  But their sorrow will be turned to joy (vs. 20) when they see the resurrected Christ. And they will understand when the Holy Spirit comes.

Devotional Thoughts

The Christian's goal is to grow in Christ every day.  We have looked at Christian growth during Lent, now we need to ask ourselves how we are doing.  Am I really seeking to grow in Christ?  Do I see myself making honest attempts to seek and grow in Him? What positive steps am I taking to try to grow in Him? What am I really doing to conquer sin and reform my thoughts and attitudes and habits?  These are not easy questions, but they are necessary.  Be brave, ask them.  Be heroic, answer them.


April 17, Day Thirty-eight

Lectionary                                                       

Morning - Psalm 116, Jeremiah 31:31-34, John 13:18
Evening - Psalms 142, 143, Lamentations 3:40-58, John 17

Commentary

Thursday before Easter Sunday recalls the institution of Holy Communion.  Passover began that evening at sunset, and Christ gathered His disciples into the upper room to keep the feast.  After the meal Jesus took the bread and cup, saying, "This is My body.  This is My blood."  Afterwards they went to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, where Jesus was "captured" and led away for His "trials." The trials lasted through the night and into the next morning.  Friday took Him to the cross, and by Friday evening He was dead.  Thus, we see the awful finality in Jesus' words in 17:1, "the hour is come."  The time has come for Him to go to the cross.  The hour has come for Him to accomplish that for which He came into the world.  His journey to the cross is almost complete.

Devotional Thoughts

Many people think growing in holiness means increasing religious activities.  It is true that a genuinely holy person will participate in Bible study, prayer, public worship, and other religious things. But these things alone do not make one holy.  The people who put Christ to death were religious people.  They were leaders in the "Church," but they were far from holy.  They honoured God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.  Holiness, then, begins with an attitude of Godliness in the heart.  This attitude expresses itself in prayer, worship, and the other outward activities of holiness.  To have the activities without the inward attitude is like having a body without a soul.  Such a body is dead.  To have the inward attitude without the outward actions is to have a phony faith.  For real faith always moves us to outward actions.

April 18, Day Thirty-nine

Lectionary

Morning - Psalms 22, 40:1-16, 54,  Genesis 22:1-18, John 18
Evening - Psalm 69:1-22, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, 1 Peter 2:11

Commentary

In addition to the daily readings from the Lectionary, the Prayer Book includes a reading from John 19:1-37, which records the crucifixion of Jesus.  The reading from 1 Peter 2 is a fitting commentary on the reading from John.  Verses 21-25 especially remind us why Christ suffered.  He "bare our sins in His own body."

Devotional

Both the inward attitude, call it "faith," and the outward actions, call them "faithfulness" are required if a person is going to be truly holy.  But we cannot let ourselves assume that the only outward actions required of us are those we would normally call "religious."  Religious activities are required, and one who will not take them up willingly needs to seriously look at his heart, for he will likely not find biblical faith there.  But holiness also requires certain actions and attitudes toward other people, call them, "neighbors." As Jesus so clearly pointed out, our duty to God means we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and loving our neighbors generally means treating others the way we would like to be treated.  No one wants to be mistreated in any way, yet, how often our actions and words offend and hurt is something we cannot know in this life.  But God knows.  Nor are we talking only about negative things, for love consist not only of "thou shalt nots," but of plenteous "thou shalts."  There are enough of these in the Bible to keep us busy reading and learning them for some time, but some of them are compassion, empathy, encouragement, and emotional support. During Lent we have intentionally devoted ourselves to growing in holiness, both inwardly, in the heart, and outwardly, in our actions.  Have our efforts included both love for God, and love for our "neighbors?"


April 19, Day Forty

Lectionary                                                       
               
Morning - Psalms 14, 16, Job 14:1-14, John 19:38
Evening - Psalm 27, Job 19:21-27, Romans 6:3-11

Commentary

"It is finished." We have come to the end of Christ's journey to the cross.  We have followed Him from the outer reaches of Galilee to the courts of the Temple, to the hill of Golgotha.  In every place and every time He resolutely followed the road to the cross.  Nothing could turn Him aside from that great and terrible transaction by which He offered Himself for the sins of His people.  When He had suffered our punishment and died our death, He cried with a loud voice, "It is finished."   Let us remember it was for us that He died.  It was for our sake that He was place in the tomb.  It was for our sin that He "Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified dead and buried." His entire journey to the cross has been for you.

Devotional Thoughts


It is difficult for us to imagine how the disciples felt that first Saturday after Christ died.  They had given up everything to follow Him, and when He died all their hopes died with Him.  They were in fear for their lives, lest they too should be tortured to death. But more devastating than fear was their absolute despair.  God, they thought, had abandoned them.  Their entire faith and meaning in life died with Christ.  Today let us try to imagine their fear and despair.  Try to feel what they felt when they placed His body in the grave, never, as they thought, to live again.  But let us remember that their despair is only a hint of what we would feel if Christ were still in the grave.  Their emotional emptiness would be the natural condition of our lives, if Christ were still in the grave today.  Our existence would be as if someone had punched us in the stomach, and we were writhing on the floor, unable to breathe, unable to make ourselves do anything because of the uncontrollable pain and spasms.  Only it would not be our stomachs or diaphragms that were hit, it would be our souls.  But, more horrible than life without meaning is eternity without hope.  Eternity spent in forced exile from the Author of all goodness and happiness is eternity spent in abject sorrow and absolute misery, so deep it makes the fires of Hell seem almost insignificant by comparison.  As we imagine a world with Christ in the grave, let us see Hell yawning before us, pulling us in without mercy.  Let us imagine unfathomable physical suffering that can only be matched by the anguish of the soul.  And let us remember, that would be our fate forever, if Christ be not raised.  

April 6, 2014

Scripture and Comments, April 7-12

Week of the Fifth Sunday in Lent

April 7, Day Twenty-nine

            Lectionary                       

Morning - Psalm 119:1-16, Exodus 3:1-15, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Evening -  Psalm 119:17-32, Psalm 117, Jeremiah 20:7-13, John 12:1-11

            Commentary

Tonight's Gospel reading returns us to the Gospel of John.  It also takes us back to the Friday prior to the crucifixion.  Remember Jesus had crossed the Jordan into Judea at Jericho, and stopped in Bethany to spend the Sabbath.  That evening, Mary washed the Saviour's feet and anointed Him with an extravagantly expensive ointment.  For this she was soundly criticised by Judas, but defended by Jesus.  Our Lord's words remind us again that He knew and accepted His fate; "against the day of my burying hath she kept this."  He has come to Judea to go to the cross.  A week from the date of Mary's anointment, Jesus will be dead.

            Devotional

What would you do if you knew you only had a week to live?  Jesus spent His last Friday and Saturday keeping the Sabbath.  It is certain that He joined the liturgy of Sabbath evening prayers with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and that He kept His custom (Lk. 4:16) of worshiping in the synagogue on Saturday.  "Custom" as used here means far more than a convention or habit.  It is a way of life, an ethos.  It is something that defines who we are and directs the way we live. Worship was a way of life for Christ, which He continued to the very end.

April 8, Day Thirty

            Lectionary       

Morning - Psalm 123, Psalm 127, Exodus 4:10-31, 1 Corinthians 15:20-34
Evening - Psalms 120, 121, 122, Jeremiah 22:10-23, John 12:12-19

            Commentary

This week's evening readings take us through the twelfth chapter of John's Gospel by Thursday night. Curiously, this is all John records about the events from the Sabbath in Bethany to Maundy Thursday.  Though many events of the week are omitted, one very significant event is recorded.  This event is often overlooked, yet its importance cannot be overstated.  It is found in verse 19, "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the whole world is gone after him."

These were the words of the Pharisees as they talked among themselves and lamented the popularity of Christ as shown in His Triumphal Entry.  The verse shows the complete inability of the religious leaders to capture Jesus or reduce His influence.  It was their intention to kill Him, yet He had evaded all their efforts, and now had come into Jerusalem in a great, symbolic act that was a bold announcement of His presence, and of their inability to stop Him.  All their efforts had prevailed nothing. 
                                                                                                               


April 9, Day Thirty-one

            Lectionary

Morning - Psalms 128, 129, Exodus 5:1-6:11, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
Evening - Psalm 132, Jeremiah 28:1-17, John 12:20-33

            Commentary

Last night's reading showed the absolute inability of the Pharisees to capture Jesus, or to reduce His popularity.  Tonight's reading shows Christ's absolute commitment to the cross.  He has proven that the Pharisees cannot kill Him, now He shows that He goes to the cross of His own volition.  "For this cause came I to this hour" (12:27).  "This he said, signifying what death he should die" (12:33).  These verses are a graphic demonstration of the truth of Christ's words in John 10:17-18: "I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."

            Devotional

One of the most important aspects of repentance is replacing ungodliness with godliness.  It is good to be sorry for sins.  It is good to end or reduce particular sins, but repentance is not complete until we have replaced the sins with righteousness.  Grubbing weeds out of a garden merely results in bare dirt.  It is not until the good seed of desirable plants are sown that the garden blossoms with flowers and fruits.



April 10, Day Thirty-two

            Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 144, Exodus 11:1-8, 1 Corinthians 15:50
Evening - Psalms 133.134.137:1-6, Jeremiah 30:12-24, John 12:34-43

            Commentary

The masses who welcomed Christ into Jerusalem were entirely confused about His nature and work.  Expecting a military deliverer, they did not understand His statement about the Son of Man being lifted up (12:34).  In Hebrew and Greek, as in English, to lift up can mean to elevate in altitude, or to elevate in dignity or status.  The people have welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as the Messiah (12:13).  But now He is talking about lifting up the Son of Man.  Jesus, of course, is talking about Himself being raised up on the cross (12:33), but the people think He is talking about elevating someone else to the status of Messiah.  Thus, despite all their enthusiasm and show, "they believed not on him" (12:37) because they believed in Him only as they wanted Him to be, not as He really is.

            Devotional

The Bible requires us to believe in Jesus as He really is, not as we would like Him to be. Likewise we are to live as He wants us to live, and worship as He wants to be worshiped.  These things are not left our own imaginations.  God clearly reveals His will in Scripture, demanding us to conform to Him.  One of the great problems of the contemporary Church is the continuing attempt to re-create Christ and remake the Church according to our own desires rather than conforming to the Bible.

April 11, Day Thirty-three

Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 95, Psalm 141:1-4, Psalm 146, Exodus 12:21-28, 1 Corinthians 16:1-14
Evening - Psalm 139, Jeremiah 32:36-42, John 12:44

Commentary

Verse 44 says, "Jesus cried and said."  It means He spoke out loudly and suddenly, not in anger or fear, but in a way that demands to be heard.  One theme runs through His words, as though He wanted to state it once again as clearly as possible so the disciples would have it burned into their memory.  The theme is simple; Christ's words are God's words, hear them well.

Devotional Thoughts

Many people are so busy with themselves they have shut themselves up to God.  They may go to church and do a few religious things in a mechanical way, but they are not really open to God.  To be open to God is not to accept unbiblical actions or doctrines, nor is it to expect ecstatic experiences and feelings.  To be open to God is to be receptive to His word and Spirit through which He speaks to you and leads you into Himself.  To be closed to God is to shut Him out of life, or to limit Him to "safe areas" where He can't "bother you."  To be open to Him is to invite Him into all of your life.

April 12, Day Thirty-four

Lectionary                                                       

Morning - Psalm 147, Exodus 12:29-42, 1 Corinthians 16:15.
Evening - Psalm 145, Jeremiah 33:1-16, John 13:1-7

Commentary

John barely mentions the "Last Supper" (13:2 & 4) but devotes much of His Gospel to the actions and words of Christ after the supper.  Again our reading shows the Lord's progress toward the cross by recording Judas' intent to betray Him (13:2).  It is important to see that, while it was the devil who put the intent into Judas' heart, it was Christ who allowed the betrayal for the purpose of bringing Himself to the cross.  Through Judas, Christ gave Himself over to be crucified.

Devotional Thoughts


While our Gospel readings have followed Christ to Jerusalem, our first readings for the mornings of the past week have been from Exodus, bringing us to this morning's reading of the Passover.   The devastation of Egypt presented in Exodus is like that of a war zone.  The stench of death and the sound of mourning covered the land.  Among the Hebrews things were different.  Spared the ruinous effects of the plagues, and delivered from the plague of death, the Egyptians even paid them to leave.  They were free.  They were going to a new land, to establish their own homes and govern their own lives.  We can only imagine their joy.  What marked the Hebrews so they were saved from the plague and set free of their bondage?  It was the blood of the Lamb.  It was no accident that Christ took the cup after the after the Passover meal and made it represent His blood as the Lamb of God.  Christ is our Passover Lamb.  His blood delivers us from our bondage of the soul and delivers us into the Heavenly "Promised Land."