West End Assembly of God
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Daily Devotional Guide
March 30 – April 4, 2015
MONDAY, March 30
John 18:6, 11 (The Message)– He said, “That’s me.” …Jesus ordered Peter, “Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?”
Jesus did not shrink from his painful mission. He clearly identified himself to the soldiers who came to arrest Him. Christ had the power to deliver himself, but that action would not have been congruent with His mission. It was not God’s purpose to relieve Jesus from the pain of the cross. Something greater was going on here—the redemption of all mankind. If you pray for something that God does not provide, it may indicate that something greater is going on in your life. God may have other purposes in mind. You may not be able to discern them at this moment in time, but you will understand later. Faith holds us steady in spite of the realities around us; it anchors us to eternal truth. Live with Heaven’s mission in mind. Make your life count by living it on mission.
TUESDAY, March 31
John 18:26-27 (The Message) – One of the Chief Priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Him?” Again, Peter denied it. Just then a rooster crowed.
Buried in the middle of the drama of the passion of Christ, we have Peter’s story. He had been so outspoken, had gone where other disciples had not been invited, had left his nets and fishing business to follow this One he truly believed was the Messiah. Yet now he withdrew in fear, just as Jesus had predicted (John 13:38). Imagine how that sound of the rooster’s crow must have pierced Peter’s heart. Can you identify with Peter’s failure? Most of us can. We try to hard to live for God; but we make mistakes—sometimes-horrible mistakes—and Satan tries to destroy us with guilt. Jesus knew the temptation that awaited Peter; and He had prayed for him (Luke 22:32). Jesus knows your temptations and prays for you, also (Romans 8:34). No failure of yours will stop God from loving you. What have you done that fills you with shame? Christ paid the price for your forgiveness. Confess it and let it go, then move on to God’s high and holy calling for your life.
WEDNESDAY, April 1
John 18:33-36 (The Message) – Pilate then went back inside the palace, and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?” Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?” “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”
It is curious that Jesus carried on quite an extensive conversation with Pilate, the man who ultimately handed Him over to be crucified. Jesus spoke freely with those who had honest questions. He spoke poignant words to Pilate: “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate’s insightful question, “What is truth?” revealed the heart of a frustrated politician who lived in a world of compromise and danger (verses 37-38). With Herod, however, Jesus did not speak a word. Herod, with his cold and calculating heart, felt no need for a Savior. He was only interested in seeing a miracle. He mocked Jesus, dressed Him in an elegant robe, and then sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:8-11). Pilate’s wife begged him not to have anything to do with Jesus (Matt. 27:19); so Pilate washed his hands of the responsibility for Christ’s death. He missed his moment of divine visitation. May God help us to open our hearts and listen to Him so that we don’t miss our moments of visitation.
THURSDAY, April 2
John 19:25-27 (The Message) – Jesus’ mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.
As Jesus hangs in anguish from the torment of this cruel method of execution, His last act of love is to commit His mother to the care of John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”). Think of it--in His darkest hour, He reflects on her pain. He directs Mary and John into a mother/son relationship that would sustain both of them through the next few, difficult days. This is our Savior—ever concerned with our well being, always connecting the disconnected, forever reconciling people to one another, and always concerned with people’s needs. Christ’s final act underscores the reality of how much we need one another when we are living through tough times. We can become sources of strength and encouragement to one another. We can help readjust the fatalistic lens and bring hope to someone who doesn’t think they can live through another painful day. Oh, the sustaining power of connectedness to the Body of Christ. What an example Christ gives to us from the cross.
FRIDAY, April 3
John 19:28-30 (The Message)- Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, “I’m thirsty.” A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After He took the wine, Jesus said, “It’s done…complete.” Bowing His head, He offered up His spirit.
Jesus spoke His final words: “It is finished.” Time split into B.C. and A.D. Did anyone understand? Probably not. What was finished? The plan of redemption for mankind was finished, which was designed long before the world was created. The Old Covenant (Old Testament) gave way to the New Covenant (New Testament) and the era of Law was made complete through Christ, who ushered in a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20). During the next few years the followers of Jesus would begin to discover the magnitude of what Jesus had accomplished through His death and resurrection. Our relationship with a just and holy God would be forevermore dependent upon our relationship with His Son. Humanity, stained by Adam and Eve’s sin, was given a remarkable offer to accept or reject Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. “And to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). Give thanks for the remarkable and costly gift of salvation through Christ our Lord.
SATURDAY, April 4
John 19:38-42 (The Message)– After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus by night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 75 pounds. They took Jesus’ body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.
Two men, both prominent members of the Sanhedrin, tended to Christ’s wounded body and prepared it for burial. Until now they had kept low profiles concerning their faith. They knew that identifying with Jesus would cost them something—loss of credibility in the business and religious worlds in which they circulated. So theirs was a covert faith. But now Jesus was dead; and with Him died the hopes of so many who had put their faith in Him. It was time for them to risk this act of kindness. Picture it. Joseph silently lifting from Mother Mary’s arms the bloodied body of her son and Nicodemus standing nearby armed with spices and linen and pain-filled eyes. They would wash Him and wrap Him and grieve in their own private ways. Mary probably remembered the words of Gabriel: “…his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:33). Nicodemus may have reflected on those now-famous words: “For God so loved the world…(John 3:16). Unsubstantiated legend says that Joseph was Mother Mary’s uncle, but the Bible mentions him only as a wealthy man who gave Christ his own tomb. On this day, their faith outweighed their fears and led them to serve Christ in ways that fulfilled scripture (Isaiah 53:9). None of them realized that resurrection was imminent.