Day 4 – The How of Fasting?

Zechariah 7:5,11-13 — “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?…But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. ‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

The danger of fasting, and really any mode of physical denial or fleshly restraint, is that it may become the end in and of itself, rather than the means to an end that it was meant to be. The people in Zechariah’s day had engaged in the discipline of fasting for seventy years! But God asks them a cutting question, “Was it really for me?” Sometimes our service to God, our pious activities, or our religious observance can be self-serving more than God honoring and God seeking. In the end, God always knows our hearts, and if we are not listening…neither will He.

The specifics of fasting (as far as the how-to) in the Bible are sparse. While almost every example in the Bible refers to a fast from food (all foods, certain foods, etc.), it would not be out of line to call Sabbath observance a fast from work/activity. The purpose remains the same — mourning, weeping, confession, drawing closer to God.

Therefore, the how of fasting is very open. You can fast from one meal, devoting the time you would have spent eating on reading God’s Word or in prayer. You can fast from certain foods, maybe foods you ordinarily enjoy often (sweets, soda, sweet tea, pizza, burgers, bbq, etc.) You can fast for an entire day or several days in a row (please be sure to consult a physician to ensure you are able to do this). You may fast from certain activities, especially ones that consume much of your time (TV, golf, movies, cell phone, internet, hobbies, etc.)

Only be sure that you do not dilute yourself into thinking that because you forgot to eat, or didn’t have time for a certain activity that you are fasting. Fasting is purposeful and intentional, and therefore focusing your time on God during this denial of food or activity is crucial. Be sure that you are doing it for God.

God please forgive me when I have not engaged in fasting or prayer for the right reasons. I confess that my motives have often been selfish, and my intentions have not always been pure. Please help me engage in the discipline of disciplining my body. Help me to pull down the flesh so that I might be built up in the Spirit. Ultimately God, I want to know You more. Help me remove any distractions, inhibitions, or sin that stands in the way of that. Thank You for Jesus Christ who has paid my sin debt and given me the access to You through His blood. May I never take that lightly. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Day 3 – The How of Prayer?

Luke 11:1-4 “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Basically, “Master, how do we pray?” Now that we know the why, the how is the natural next step. Jesus gives them a prayer — we often refer to it as The Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is a rudimentary model of how to pray. If Jesus had given this to us in our day, He might have called it a sort of “Idiot’s Guide to Prayer,” or “Prayer for Dummies.” (Jesus may have even done a YouTube how-to video!) This was never meant to be the only way to pray, but simply a guide, a how-to, for children or amateurs. We teach our children, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” Not because we wish for them to pray this exact prayer every night for the rest of their lives, but so that they learn to communicate to God in a simple way — they learn to see God as their Father in heaven who wants to hear from them. It is a starting point to communion with God. So, what is the how of prayer? Jesus says:

Remember Who you are talking to. “Our Father in heaven…” God is Holy. He dwells on High, in heaven. But He is also our Father, and a Good Father at that. We can converse with Him. We can ask of Him, we can talk with Him and He loves us.

Remind God that you want what He wants. “Your will be done…” If you really desire for God’s will to be done, then be a part of what He is doing. Before you tell Him what you want, ask Him what He wants. But be prepared for His wants to some times (or many times) be in conflict with your own desires…are you willing to let Him have His way?

Request what you need. “Give us each day…” Some people will tell you at this point to just ask for your needs not your wants. But the Bible teaches us that if we “Take delight in the LORD, then he will give us the desires of our heart.” (Psalm 37:4) If you want what He wants, then ask Him for anything you want! Let God distinguish between your wants and needs and be content with what He provides. God will bring our desires into conformity with His — in His time.

Reveal your sin and Release others from theirs. “Forgive us our sins…” This may seem hard on the surface, to expose our sins to God. However, upon closer inspection, it is really quite simple — God already sees and knows about our sin! We are really just agreeing with Him that our sin is wrong and promising to turn away from wrong doing. But, because God does not hold our sin against us, then neither can we hold others’ sins against them. We model God’s forgiveness, and in so doing, we become a true testimony of His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Repeat your requests until God says otherwise. “Ask…Seek…Knock…” (vv. 9-10) Ever meet someone for the first time and find it hard to converse? Conversation didn’t come easy or natural, it seemed forced and a little stiff. Then with time you became friends, because of persistence and deeper communication. Don’t give up just because you don’t get the answer you wanted…persist in prayer. Keep praying until it becomes like breathing…second nature, you don’t even think about it, it just happens naturally. “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Revel in your status. “Suppose you have a friend…” (v.8) As God’s beloved, a friend of God and a child of the King the Jesus says we can come to the Father with “shameless audacity.” (Luke 11:8) When a child bursts into his father’s business meeting disrupting everyone else in the meeting (and everything on the agenda) simply because he can’t wait to tell his dad what he did at school that day…that’s shameless audacity! Your intimate relationship with God should make others blush! “The gall of that child!” “What impertinence!” “Doesn’t he know there are more important matters at hand?” We don’t know and we don’t care! We have to speak to daddy!…and He loves it.

Lastly, don’t forget to be thankful. Thankfulness has its own ability to transform our thoughts off of our circumstances and needs and reminding us of how good God always is. Jesus is still willing to teach us how to pray.

Oh Father! You are God alone, and there is no other like You. I want nothing more than Your will to be done in this world and in my life. Do whatever it takes to conform me to Your will and surrender my own. Forgive me when I fail in this. I confess that I am full of sin and my desires often take place over Yours. I’m sorry when that happens, please help me to allow Your desires to override my own. I have held others responsible for the hurts they have given me. I have kept them in debtors prison for their transgressions..forgive me. Today I will release them with Your help, and help me also to forget the pain and not bring it back to remembrance. Thank You for listening, for hearing, and for answering. But most of all, thank You for being my Daddy and for loving me so well. I love You, Dad. Amen.

Day 2 – The Why of Fasting?

1 Samuel 7:6 — “When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.”

I believe the why of fasting is equally important to the why of prayer. Just as Genesis 4:26 was the first mention of prayer (calling upon the LORD) in the Bible, so 1 Samuel 7:6 is the first mention of fasting in the Bible. And just as mankind, in the book of Genesis, lost fellowship with God through sin and they sought restoration of that fellowship through prayer — mankind, in the book of Samuel, lost God’s presence (the Ark of the Covenant — a symbol of God’s presence) and they sought restoration through fasting and confession (prayer). While prayer is an activity of communicating to God, fasting — the deliberate denial of food to the body — is an activity that communicates to God the seriousness of our commitment. In this instance, the children of Israel had indulged their appetites by worshiping other foreign gods. They were no longer committed to serve God, but rather distracted by their own desires. The Ark was captured by the Philistines and “The Glory had departed from Israel, for the ark of God had been captured.” (1 Sam. 4:22) The why of fasting is this: we are distracted. There is a battle within us between our desire to do things our way and a desire to do things God’s way. The New Testament writer, James puts it this way, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1) When we deny ourselves basic necessities like food, it weakens our worldly body…but it strengthens our spiritual body! (Mat. 4:2; Mat.16:24-26) It disciplines our flesh and we are more able to commune with God because we are less distracted by the desires/appetites of our bodies. We show God in a very tangible way that we are committed to Him more than to ourselves. (Job 11:13-19) We live on the spiritual food He gives us more than the earthly foods we crave. (Mat. 4:4; Deut. 8:3) God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10), and when we weaken our sinful bodies through self denial…we are strengthened by God’s power and God’s glory returns! We experience His presence in new ways and we recommit our hearts to what really matters. We refocus upon God and we forsake our distractions and hinderances, for the sake of sweet communion and fellowship with God. We fast because we are distracted.

God of grace and God of glory, forgive me for being distracted by my own sinful desires. Even now, talking about denying my body food there is a visceral reaction from my flesh…it is angry, and it desires to disobey. Help me to discipline my body through fasting. Not so that I am holier than anyone else, but because my body is in constant rebellion to Your ways. Let me use the things of this world — food, money, power, talents as if they do not have a hold on me. Let me not be controlled by any of them, but surrender them all to Your control. Help me to keep my commitments to You. Thank You for Your loving kindness and Your faithfulness even when I am unfaithful. Thank You for Your perfect power in my weakness —help me to truly embrace weakness, and fully trust in Your power and grace. All glory is Yours in heaven and on earth. Amen.

Day 47 – Jesus Restores His Friend

Day 47 – Jesus Restores His Friend. April 21, 2019

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:1-25

The last steps of Jesus are spent after the Cross and after the resurrection. The Journey of the Cross winds down with Jesus restoring His friend Peter after his greatest failure. And he does not simply restore him to salvation, or even simple relationship, but also to service. You may think you have “blown it,” time and time again. You may think that you have missed the opportunity to be a “clean vessel” that can be used for Kingdom purposes. Jesus finishes the Journey to the Cross by affirming that brokenness and failure do not disqualify us from serving Jesus. Jesus restores us because He calls us friends. Our last steps on our Journey to the Cross are to follow His steps, to be restored to God through Jesus Christ and to restore others to Him as well.

Lord Jesus, thank You for restoring me. I no longer need feel the guilt of what I’ve done, the shame of my failures and brokenness. Restore me completely, and help me to be faithful to feed Your sheep and to walk in Your Way, always. Thank You for this Journey to the Cross. Help me to continually make this Journey and to live out the Gospel in my daily walk with You. I love You and praise You in the Name of Jesus, Amen.

All Who Will Listen
Jesus calls all who will listen to come and find forgiveness, mercy and healing at the Cross. We are all sinners, we have all fallen short of God’s perfect plan for our lives. And because of this we are all under God’s wrath, judgement and condemnation. But, because God loved us, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place, to take the punishment we deserved. And because He did this, if we place our faith in Him, we can have a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to place your faith in Jesus Christ it is simple. You must agree with God that you are a sinner, that He is right and you are wrong. Confess your sins to Him, and ask God to forgive you. Believe that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for your sins, and that God raised Him from the dead.

Turn away from your sin and turn toward God and walk with Him. Follow Jesus in all that He did…be baptized into Jesus, forgive others as He has forgiven you, love others as He has loved you, read His Word and obey it.

Tell all the world about Him!

If you’d like to share what Jesus has done for you, we’d like to hear about it! If you would like to know more about how to grow in you walk with God please reach out to us! If we can pray with you or for you, please reach out to us. You can share with us at saved@ComeToTheCreek.com. May God bless you in all things in the Name of Jesus.

Day 46 – Jesus Conquers Death

Day 46 – Jesus Conquers Death. April 20, 2019

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. John 20:1-30

The Journey to the Cross is not truly complete. For the story does not end with Jesus’ death and burial. The story must come to its conclusion in order for the journey to be at an end. Jesus continues the story by breaking the bondage of sin, death, and hell forever! The grave has been robbed of the body of Jesus, but it has also been robbed of its sting! Jesus triumphs over the grave, making a public display of its feeble bonds. Jesus crushes the head of the Serpent (Satan) and stand over him in complete and total victory! Some will not believe the story. Some will doubt unless they have more proof. But Jesus will bring proof to those who need proof and bless those who will never have proof and yet still believe. Jesus is Alive! He is Risen from the dead and He has won the Victory! Christ is risen indeed and now the Cross stands as a permanent reminder of Christ’s Victory…Amazing!

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Victory! Thank You for Your triumph! Thank You for the Battle Won! The horror of the crucifixion is replaced by the Lord victorious. You have traded my sorrow for joy! You have given me new life! May I always celebrate the victory and never wallow in defeat. Help me live on this side of the Cross. Celebrating the power and the grace and the victory. All glory, laud and honor belong to You and You alone oh God! Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Day 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 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.