The Mothers Day Passage

As a Christian I believe and know that Jesus came to serve others. We see it in a variety of ways. Through His miracles Jesus served others, as well as through His words and actions.

At the age of 12 Jesus had left the Caravan, gone back to Jerusalem, and was listening and teaching at the temple. When His parents found Him there, Jesus’ mother, Mary, gave Him a mild reprimand. Jesus’ reply was, “Did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?”

This wasn’t an act of disobedience, as much as a way of telling His parents, this is where I come from, this is my calling, and oneday soon I will leave you to do my fathers bidding. Jesus wasn’t serving notice. He was actually showing an act of service, of kindness to His parents. He wanted them to understand what was to come.

In Chapter two in the Gospel of John, Jesus performs His first Miracle. Let’s take a look at it.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, (2:4 The Greek for Woman does not denote any disrespect. )why do you involve me?”Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

We’ve all heard and read this passage before. Jesus turns the water that the servants put in the jars or jugs into wine. It was done in plain sight, and many people saw it occur, right before there eyes.

Yet there’s more to it than that. Yes, this was an act of service to the bride, groom and wedding party. But, it was even more so, an expression of love and respect for Mary’s request. Jesus is 33 years old when this miracle occured. He had not publically done any miracles, or healings. Yet upon a request from His mother, He begins His ministry. Jesus states quite frankly that, “Woman, why do you involve me, my hour has not yet come.”

Jesus’ official ministry did begin that day. He served others as well as His mother by performing a miracle. Jesus’ love and empathy for others is well documented. Here, in these passages, we see the bond and the love He has for His earthly mother.

Perhaps you’re not close to you mother. To be honest in recent years I have not been close to mine. Yet I think of her often, I pray for her well being, and yes, I will be seeing her tomorrow.

I call this the mothers day passage, because Jesus struck just the right balance, between love, obedience, respect and need. May your mother’s day be a blessed one.

Joe G

The Great Commission

Lenten/Easter Devotion

The Miracles of Jesus

The Great Commission

 Matthew 28:16-20

Not everyone learns or understands instructions the same way. I can read an instruction manual to put together a bookcase. But for me, doing so is very difficult as I am very meticulous when I put things together. I learn best by example. Once someone has shown me how to do something several times, I become a master of doing that job.

Let’s take a moment to read Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples from the book of Matthew.

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The passage you just read was the final words Jesus said to His followers before He ascended into heaven. Jesus had been on a mission His whole life, but His most fruitful years had been His last three.

During those last three years of His life, Jesus’ ministry moved forward like a runaway train. He was Baptized, tested by Satan, taught non-stop, and performed an innumerable amount of miracles. Jesus healed, cared for others, served others, was arrested without just cause, beaten, sentenced to death, crucified on a cross, buried, and finally rose from the dead. And He did all of that for you and me.

One of the first lines that strikes me in the passage from Matthew is when he says, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

It’s difficult to understand what some of them doubted. The disciples had traveled with Jesus for three years. From everything we’ve read in the Gospel accounts, we know that Jesus led by example. Jesus taught His twelve followers, now eleven, so much. And, He reiterated many of His teachings over and over again. (Much like the way I learn)

Did the disciples doubt Jesus’ teachings? I doubt it. Did they doubt that He was the Son of God? Probably not. Did they not believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Definitely not! He was standing right in front of them on many occasions after His death.

So, what did some of the disciples doubt? Probably they didn’t grasp what was in store for them next. In just three verses, Jesus enlightens them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Jesus gave four distinct instructions in His final address to His followers.

  1. Go – What does “Go” mean to you? (Think about it; you can’t make disciples by sitting in your house. You have to go out and meet the people, be an example through your actions, and talk to others about Jesus whenever you can.)
  • Make disciples – What does “Make disciples” mean to you? (In Greek, the word disciples means “learner.”  Just as we need to read and hear about God’s plan and His Son Jesus, we as learners need to cultivate other learners and believers.)
  • Teach – What does “Teach” mean to you in this passage? (We are to pass on Christ’s teachings, both verbally, by our actions, and through His words in the Bible.)
  • Baptize – I thought only Pastors could baptize; what do make of the statement concerning baptism Jesus made? (By instructing and teaching others about Jesus, we can help them get baptized through the Holy Spirit. Remember what Jesus said in John 3; you must be baptized through water and the Word of God to be reborn.)

Finally, Jesus makes a promise, “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus promised to be with us always. He lives with us in our hearts. And through The Holy Spirit, who is our guide and helper throughout our life.

Remember … Jesus’ words in the Great Commission are not suggestions. They are instructions from the Son of God.

Dear Jesus. Help us to not only remember your “Great Commission” but also fulfill it. Help us to, Go, Teach, Baptize and make disciples in your name. Amen.

(This is my final Lenten/Easter devotion in the series, The Miracles of Jesus. I pray you have enjoyed reading the 50 devotions I’ve posted over the last two months, as I did, writing them.) Joe G

The Second Miraculous Catch

The Miracles of Jesus

April 6, 2021

The Second Miraculous Catch

Luke 5:4-10; John:1-14; 15-17

It’s an old saying. “History repeats itself.” The expression is right up there with the definition of insanity. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

There are times in the Bible history seems to repeat itself. To some extent, it does, but always for a perfectly good reason.

In chapter five of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus told some of His soon-to-be disciples to put into deeper water to catch fish. This was their response in what is called “The first miraculous catch.”

“Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 

“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word, I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.

And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on, you will be catching men.”

__________________________________________________________

Now let’s take a few moments to read the story of “The second miraculous catch,” as a comparison:

“After this, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 

Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” 

They answered him, “No.” 

He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” 

So, they cast it, and now they could not haul it in because of the quantity of fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved, therefore, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it and bread. 

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 

So, Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” 

Now [none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

As I’ve mentioned in several of my Lenten devotions, living on this side of history, so much of the Bible makes sense when we read it in context. The Bible explains itself. In this instance, this miracle in Luke set up the miracle of the second miraculous catch in John’s Gospel.

There are several differences between the two miracles.

  • In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples barely knew Jesus
    • John’s Gospel story occurs after Jesus had died and risen.
  • In Luke’s story, Peter complains that the men are tired and had been fishing all night with negative results.
    • In John, there is no indication that Peter or the disciples hesitated.
  • In Luke’s story, Peter fell to his knees and begged Jesus to depart from him because he was a sinful man.
    • In John’s story, Peter couldn’t get out of the boat fast enough to see and be with Jesus.

There are also several similarities between the two miracles

  • The men caught a lot of fish both times after listening to Jesus
  • In Luke’s story, Jesus tells Peter to follow Him because from now on, he’d be catching men
    • In John’s story, Jesus calls the seven men who have been following Him for three years to “Come and have some breakfast.”
  • Later in the story, Jesus would also call upon Peter to feed His sheep several times, thus forgiving him for disavowing Him on the night He was betrayed. And re-establishing him (Peter) as His follower and the leader of the disciples.

“When they had finished breakfast,

Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

 He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

 He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” 

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” 

and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Everything Jesus did during His earthly ministry was done for a specific reason. Every word he spoke, every action He took or didn’t take, fulfilled His reason for being here. He was here as a living sacrifice. And His disciples were to continue to carry on His message of repentance, grace, and faith to the next generation.

That, too, is our job. To answer the call and bring the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to the world, so all might be saved.

Dear Jesus. Help us to always follow your instructions, heed your call, and to follow in your footsteps. We are here to serve you and bring your Gospel message to the world. Amen.

On the Road to Emmaus

Lenten/Easter Devotion

The Miracles of Jesus

On the Road to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35; Isaiah 53:1-6

As we’ve all experienced, the road of life takes many twists and turns. Some of the twists and turns are good, and some of them are not so good. We experience many ups and downs throughout our lives. There are times when we have many successes, a good job, a great vacation, and happy families. But there are times in our lives when things don’t go very well. A family member passes, we fail a course at school, and we may walk into work on a Monday morning with a pink slip awaiting us.

Two of the disciples had one of those negative twists occur to them. Jesus had been crucified; He was dead. They had followed Him for a long time, and now, everything seemed hopeless. As they took the road from Jerusalem towards Emmaus, their lives took a sudden turn for the good.

On the Road to Emmaus

Now that same day, two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles24:13 Or about 11 kilometers from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him, but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”

Looking back at the scripture reading, we see two of Christ’s disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, which means they were walking away from Jerusalem. These men were walking away from the place where Christ died at Golgotha. (Perhaps they were disillusioned, or they had given up hope. They said as much to Jesus as He walked with them. They said, “We had hoped He would be the redeemer of Israel.”)

While the two disciples are walking along the road, a third person joins them. Living on this side of history, we know it to be Jesus because the bible tells us it was Him. (For some reason, Jesus kept them from recognizing Him. He wanted time to talk with them and explain the scripture to them.

Looking back at the scripture reading, what opened their eyes? What suddenly caused them to recognize Jesus? (They said it was the breaking of the bread, not necessarily as in communion, but as a shared meal.)

They also said that their hearts burned as He (Jesus) explained and revealed the scripture to them. God’s word will always explain what we don’t understand. But, we have to read it, digest it, and apply it in our daily lives. They said, “We had hoped He would be the redeemer of Israel.” Once the scriptures were explained to them, they realized Jesus was the redeemer they were hoping for.)

No sooner did Jesus disappear while seated with the two disciples; the men decided to return to Jerusalem. (They wanted to report to the Apostles and Christ’s other followers that they had seen Him, Jesus, He was alive.)

The passage from Luke states that Jesus revealed the scriptures to the two disciples on the road. Here is some of what the prophet Isaiah foretold about Jesus.

Who has believed what he has heard from us?

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely, he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds, we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.”

Everything that Jesus did on earth was prophesied in the Old Testament. Christ fulfilled the scriptures. He lived a perfect life. He taught us how to live ours as servants to all. Jesus did die on a cross, and three days later, He rose again from the dead, for you and me so we may have eternal life with Him and the Father.  No greater love than this has ever been shown.

Dear Jesus. Just like you opened the two disciples’ eyes on the road to Emmaus, we thank you for opening our eyes through the scriptures. We are blessed. Living on this side of history, we see the prophecies of the Old Testament. We can read, see and understand how those prophecies about you were fulfilled in the New Testament. Thank you for opening our eyes. We know you are the Messiah, the Savior of the World. Amen.

Resurrection Sunday

Lenten/Easter Devotion

The Miracles of Jesus

“Resurrection Sunday”

April 4, 2021

Matthew 28:1-10

All four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) describe the Resurrection. Each writer has his own perspective with some slight differences in each. But one thing is for sure in all four accounts, Jesus has risen. He has risen indeed.

Let’s take a look at Matthew’s account of the Resurrection:

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him, the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So, they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples.

 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” 

And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

We find Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (The mother of James and Joses) arriving at the tomb. Mark’s Gospel is a bit more specific in that he states that they came with spices to anoint the body of Jesus.

Here’s another thought from Mark’s Gospel. In it, the women were worried about how they would move the stone to enter the tomb. Matthew’s Gospel solves that problem with another earthquake occurring (Remember the first one? It was at the moment of Jesus’ death.)

The earthquake occurs when an angel descends from heaven and rolls the stone away.

Okay, so do you remember the devotion yesterday about the guards? Well, here they are again. When all this commotion occurs, and they see what happens, Matthew’s account says, “And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.”

The words, ‘dead men” are open to a bit of interpretation. The guards could have possibly passed out from fear, thus laying on the ground like they were dead. They also could have been so terrified and stunned by what they just observed that they couldn’t speak or move.

Either way, you’ll notice that the angel acts like the guards aren’t even there. He addresses the women, not the guards. He says these words, “Do not be afraid.” Hold those words in the back of your mind for a moment as we continue.

The angel wastes no time in telling the women what has occurred. Jesus has risen from the grave just like He said that He would. The angel then tells them to go and tell the disciples what they have seen and that they should go to Galilee, where Jesus will meet them.

Okay, please pardon my interruption at this point. But once again, we find the disciples not listening to what Jesus tells them to do. In Matthew 26:32 at the Last Supper, Jesus says,

But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 

That’s once, now the angel tells the women to pass the same information on to the disciples. So that’s twice they’ve been told to go to Galilee.

As the infomercials say, “But wait, there’s more.” Suddenly Jesus appears to the women as they leave and says, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

And that is the third time. Jesus passes this information along twice, and the angel reinforced it.

So, the women get back tell them what they heard and say, and the disciples believe them, correct? NOT! Luke’s Gospel, 24:10-12, says, “Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.”

Yes, the disciples doubted the women and had to see it for themselves. And only after Jesus had appeared to the disciples several times did they go to Galilee, where Jesus gave them, The Great Commission.

Finally, remember I told you to tuck the words, “Do not be afraid,” into the back of your mind? I did that because it’s essential. The phrase is used over and over again in the New Testament. The angel appears to Zechariah and says, “Do not be afraid.” The angel appears to Mary and says? Yep, “Do not be afraid.” When the angels appeared to the shepherds, he said, “Do not be afraid.”

It’s true, they didn’t need to be afraid, and neither do we. Remember what Psalm 23 says? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;”

There is no need for us to fear because Jesus overcame death by His death on the cross and His Resurrection. And it’s also true, as Jesus said in His final words of Matthew’s Gospel,

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.”

Dear Jesus. Thank you. You died on the cross and rose again three days later. You overcame death, so we may live with you in eternity. B.GT.F. By Grace Through Faith, we are saved. Amen

References: The Holy Bible (ESV)

                       The Peoples Bible Commentary, Matthew, G.J. Albrecht and M.J. Albrecht.

Jesus’ Tomb is Sealed and Guarded

The Miracles of Jesus

Lenten/Easter devotions

Jesus’ Tomb is Sealed and Guarded

Matthew 27:62-65; 28:11-15

On March 4, 1921, the United States Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American serviceman from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater. On November 11, 1921, the unknown soldier brought back from France was interred below a three-level marble tomb. The bottom two levels are six granite sections each, and the top at least nine blocks with a rectangular opening in the center of each level through which the unknown remains were placed through the Tomb and into the ground below. A stone slab, rather than marble, covers the rectangular opening.

The caskets of the WWII & Korean unknowns arrived in Washington on May 28, 1958, where they lay in the Capitol Rotunda until the morning of May 30, when they were carried on caissons to Arlington National Cemetery. President Eisenhower awarded each the Medal of Honor, and the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War were interred in the plaza beside their World War I comrade.

Twenty-four hours a day, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” stand watch over the Tomb. (Wikipedia)

It’s quite a sight watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I had the privilege of watching it in person many years ago. The most amazing thing to me is that the soldiers guarding the Tomb do so in all kinds of weather 24/7/365.

__________________________________________________________________

In today’s devotion, we find the chief priests and the Pharisees asking Pilate to station guards at the Tomb of Jesus. Not to honor him, instead to guard against the disciples stealing the body.

“The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore, order the Tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So, they went and made the Tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.”

Think about what’s happening in this passage:

  • We see the Pharisees and chief priests breaking the Sabbatical rules. These are the same ‘guys’ that accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath when He performed a miracle.
    • Now they were working on the Sabbath, soliciting Pilate for help.
  • At this point in time, if I were Pilate, I’d be done with these guys. And guess what? He was.
  • Depending on which version you read, there is a discrepancy between who sent the guards to watch over Jesus’ Tomb.
    • Here’s what the KJV says, Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.”
      • The word “Ye” means YOU. Pilate basically tells the religious leaders, “You have Temple guards, use them and secure the tomb the best that you can,” and that’s precisely what they did.

The most humorous part of this endeavor is that the priests and Pharisees worry about something that never entered the disciples’ minds.

One of the disciples, Judas, is dead, another disavowed knowing Jesus, Peter, and only one, John, showed up at the crucifixion. They were scared, disillusioned, depressed, and scattered. Grave robbing was the last thing on their minds.

We’re going to take a time jump now. We encounter these guards, Pharisees, and chief priests again about 24-36 hours later. The guards were there when Jesus rose from the dead. Did they see Jesus? No. But they felt another earthquake; they saw an angel roll the stone away from the Tomb. (By the way, the angel rolled the stone away not to let Jesus out, but to let people in, to see that the Tomb was empty.)

Now it is Resurrection Sunday. Jesus has risen. The women have come to the Tomb to anoint the body. The angel tells the women, “He has Risen.” Mary sees Jesus. The women left to go tell the disciples what they had encountered.

And now Matthew picks up the story of the guards again:

“While they were going, behold, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers. They said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So, they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.”

Here are a few things to note from this passage

  • Who did the guards go to see first? The church elders and chief priests. This verifies the fact that these were temple guards, not Roman soldiers.
  • The elders and chief priests take the guard’s words as truth. They never question them or call them liars.
  • Instead, they pay them a large sum of money to keep quiet about what they had seen and tell them to lie about it.
  • Not only did the chief priests and elders bribe the guards with money, but they also promised them anonymity if anyone ever questioned the story.
  • Why? Why did the elders and chief priests do this?
    • They wanted to maintain their hold on the people
    • They wanted to remain the ‘guys’ in charge of the temple and laws
  • Little did they know that Jesus would refute what they had done and show their lies simply by appearing to hundreds of people over the next 40 days.

These things were done out of fear, a lack of faith, and wanting to maintain power.

Dear Jesus. Many people have tried to disprove your resurrection. Let us never have the misguided ignorance of those who don’t believe. Instead, help us keep our faith strong and continue bringing your Gospel message to the world. Amen.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

Lenten/Easter Devotion

The Miracles of Jesus

“The Crucifixion of Jesus”

Mark 15:15-41

April 2, 2021

Each year my wife and I go to Good Friday services. The service doesn’t change much from year to year. How could it? We are told the same story each year. The horrors of Christ being crucified and hearing Him being mocked. We can visualize the other two crosses and Jesus conversing with the two robbers. We watch the soldiers throwing dice for Jesus’ clothing. In the crowd, we can see Mary, Jesus’ mother. Jesus tells the Apostle John, she’s your responsibility now; take care of her. And we hear Christ’s last words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

Then it’s over. Jesus is dead, hanging on the cross. Living on this side of history, we know it’s not over at all. It’s just the beginning.

Here I present you with Mark’s Gospel writings of the crucifixion. Each Gospel has a few differences, but the main thing is that Christ died on the cross for you and me.

May today be a day of remembrance, thankfulness, a bit of sadness, and joy. Why joy? Because Christ died, so we may live.

(The is the AMP – Amplified Bible, with explanations throughout the reading)

15 So, Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, set Barabbas free for them, and after having Jesus, I.e., whipped with a short whip of metal-tipped leather thongs. There was no limit to the number of lashings. Frequently, the body was so lacerated that the intestines gushed out. It was not uncommon for a prisoner to die from scourging. scourged, he handed Him over [to his soldiers] to be crucified.

Jesus Is Mocked

16The soldiers led Him away into the palace (that is, the the residence of the Roman provincial governor. Praetorium), and they called together the entire [Roman] battalion [of 600 soldiers]. 17They dressed Him up in [a ranking Roman officer’s robe of] purple, and after twisting [together] a crown of thorns, they placed it on Him; 18and they began saluting and mocking Him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19They kept beating Him on the head with a I.e., a long bamboo-like stick. reed and spitting on Him and kneeling and bowing in [mock] homage to Him. 20After they had mocked Him, they took off the purple robe and put His own clothes on Him. And they led Him out [of the city] to crucify Him.

21They forced into service a passer-by coming in from the countryside, Simon of A port city in North Africa. Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), The crossbeam was usually placed on the nape of the neck like a yoke.to carry His cross.

The Crucifixion

22Then they brought Him to the place [called] Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Latin: Calvaria; or Calvary; Aram: Golgotha; Greek: Kranion.Skull. 23They tried to give Him The myrrh had a narcotic effect and was added to dull the senses. wine mixed with myrrh [to dull the pain], but He would not take it. 24And they crucified Him and See note Matt 27:35. divided up His clothes among themselves, casting lots for them to see who should take what. 25It was the third hour (9:00 a.m.) when they crucified Him. 26The inscription of the accusation against Him had been written [above Him]: “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

27They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “He was counted with the transgressors.”] 29Those who were passing by were insulting Him with abusive and insolent language, wagging their heads [as a sign of contempt], and saying, “Ha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in [only] three days, 30save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 31In the same way, the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were ridiculing and mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others [from death]; He cannot save Himself! 32Let the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe and trust [in Him]!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

33When the sixth hour (noon) came, darkness covered the whole land until the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.). 34And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 35Some of the bystanders heard Him and said, “Look! He is calling for The Jews believed that the prophet Elijah would return before the Messiah appeared. Elijah!” 36Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah is coming to take Him down.” 37But Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed out His last [voluntarily, sovereignly dismissing and releasing His spirit from His body in submission to His Father’s plan]. 38And the veil [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was torn in two from This act of God signified that the death of Jesus ended the need for temple sacrifices and intermediaries and opened the way for free and direct access to God. top to bottom. 39When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He breathed His last [being fully in control], he said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!”

40Now, some women also were watching from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Gr Maria. She is believed to be a sister or sister-in-law of Jesus’ mother, Mary (Gr Mariam). Mary, the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Matt 27:56 indicates that Salome was the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Salome is believed to be one of the sisters of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Salome. 41When Jesus was in Galilee, they used to accompany him and minister to Him; there were also many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Lord Jesus. You died, so we might live. There’s nothing left to say but thank You, and we love You. Amen.

“He washed their feet”

Lenten/Easter Devotion

April 1, 2021

Maundy Thursday

“He washed their feet.”

John 13:1-20

In chapter four of my book, “Adventures in Youth Ministry,” I discuss “TEACHING THEM TO BE COMFORTABLE PRAYING OUT LOUD.” My point in this chapter was to give a couple of helpful hints on how to get students to be comfortable with praying out loud.

I’m not going into all the details of our “Modern-day foot washing.” Suffice it to say, there was no water involved, a lot of praying, and some astonishing results came out of it. “The students opened up; they cried, hugged, gave each other advice, because they felt safe and comfortable praying and opening up in a small group.” (Adventures in Youth Ministry, Chapter 4)

In the Gospel of John, chapter 13, beginning with verse one, Jesus and His disciples have come together for what we call the Last Supper. Jesus and His followers are reclining at the Passover meal table when Jesus stands up and does a most peculiar thing, at least in the eyes of His disciples.

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 

For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 

“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed, are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place, you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

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“Jesus washed their feet. Twelve disciples, twenty-four feet, and He cleaned them. On his knees, Jesus got down on what was probably a filthy floor in the upper room.  Jesus wrapped a towel around His waist, which comes in handy when washing twenty-four feet. Then, He started working.

This was servant work, not something He should do! He was their leader, He was their teacher, and He was the guest of honor that night at the Passover meal. This scene happened over 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. There weren’t many paved roads back then, so the streets were dusty and even muddy when it rained. So, it was customary for the homeowner or host to provide a slave at the house’s door to wash the dinner guests’ feet as they arrived. If the home couldn’t afford a slave, the responsibility generally fell to one of the early arriving guests. Interestingly enough, none of the disciples volunteered for this common task. So, we find the upper room filled with proud hearts and dirty feet!

So, He, God, who once took a lump of clay and formed a man, washed their feet. The same God who was born in a dirty stable and laid in an animal’s feed trough. The same God who, in just a few minutes, would be offering His body and blood to his disciples during the Passover meal. He was the same God who would be tried, beaten, humiliated, whipped, crucified, and buried in just a few short hours.

Not just for those twelve disciples, for those twenty-four feet, but for all of us. He washed their feet as a servant. He loved them because He loves us.

On that first Maundy Thursday, Jesus taught His disciples a valuable lesson through experiential learning. By getting down on His knees, taking a basin and a towel, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as a servant. Jesus lived amongst us as one who served. He modeled the lifestyle He wants us to live every day of our lives. When we selflessly and lovingly reach out to help others, we live as Christ wants us to live.

Jesus used the basin of water and the towel to teach us the essence of service. His Holy Spirit lives within us and calls us to live our faith out loud through serving others.” (From my September 2019 Blog)

Dear Jesus. Help us to look at servanthood the way you do. It was not a common task for you to wash the feet of Your disciples. It was an example to help them and us to learn how to serve. May we model your servant nature and help all of those in need that we know and cross our paths. Amen.

Jesus heals the severed ear of a servant while being

The Miracles of Jesus

March 31, 2021

Jesus heals the severed ear of a servant while being arrested

Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10-11

When I was about nine years old, I was sitting at the dinner table with my parents, grandparents (Dad’s side), as well as Aunts and Uncles. I looked up at my grandfather during the meal as he was eating and noticed something I hadn’t before. He was missing three fingers on his right hand.

I remember whispering to my Dad, “What happened to Grandpa’s hand?” I believe it was later when we were alone, that my Dad explained what had happened. Grandpa had lost them when he tried to retrieve a trowel from an operating concrete mixer. Grandpa’s trowel had fallen in when he was scooping, scraping the edges of the machine. Instead of turning off the engine, Grandpa instinctively tried to grab his trowel. When he did this, the mixer came around and cut three of his fingers off.

I can only imagine the pain, suffering, and thoughts that went through his head when it occurred. “How will I be able to work? How am I going to support my family?”

Grandpa did learn to adjust to his injury as he went on to work with my Dad and uncle, who owned their own Plastering and Drywall business.

In today’s devotion, we see one of Jesus’ disciples react to his impending arrest instinctively.

“And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 

But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.” Luke 22:49-51

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“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 

So, Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” John 18:10-11

The Bible passage picks up in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has just been betrayed by Judas, and the temple guards are there to arrest Him. The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Always outspoken and quick to act, Peter decides to take a stand against the authorities who have come to arrest Jesus. Peter draws his sword from its sheath and takes a swing at the High priest’s servant Malchus. Peter was probably aiming at the servant’s head and thankfully missed cutting off his ear.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus immediately heals Malchus’ ear. Why would He do that?

  • It was the right thing to do, no matter what the circumstances were at that moment.
  • What Peter did was wrong. He attempted to murder someone. Jesus’ healing of Malchus corrects Peter’s angry gesture.
  • In both accounts (Luke and John), Jesus basically tells Peter and the disciples to stop.
    • In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
      • Jesus had a destiny to fulfill. It was to suffer and die.
      • God had given Jesus an assignment, ‘You are the sacrificial lamb for all of mankind.’
    • Jesus could not and would not allow anything to stand in the way of His destiny as Savior of the world. He must suffer, die, be buried, and rise again from the dead to save us from our sins.

Dear Jesus. You traveled the road to the cross without once complaining or detouring from Your designated path. Thank you for your sacrifice. Help us to never act out of anger towards others and always stay on the path that the Holy Spirit has set us upon. Amen.

Jesus withers the Fig Tree on the road from Bethany

The Miracles of Jesus

March 30, 2021

Jesus withers the Fig Tree on the road from Bethany

Matthew 21:18-22

“I was brought up in an environment where a lot of swearing occurred. My family swore quite a bit. When I was a teen, I worked for my Dad during the summer. He owned a plastering and drywall company. At work, I seemed always to be surrounded by people who cursed. In later years, when I worked in the retail food industry, we also used extremely flowery language. Charles Colton said, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.” I don’t believe that he meant swearing like a sailor in a bar on a Saturday night was something we should imitate.”


“The swearing was more often than not, not spoken in anger, but as I often say, “We swore like people use the word ‘the.'” Unfortunately, I can also remember many times when I swore in front of people. They would back away and shun me because of my foul language. There were times when curse words did get spoken in anger, and I often paid the price, including getting hit on several occasions because of a verbal outburst on my part.”

(Copied from my book, “Adventures in Youth Ministry.”

Chapter nine, “Language, please watch it”)

Today’s devotion immediately follows Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. On the surface, you might think His cursing of the fig tree was out of anger. Or from frustration from what had occurred in the temple. It’s not.

“In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. [

And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, 

“Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree but even if you say to this mountain. ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.”

Some fig trees do produce figs before their leaves grow out. Other fig trees figs grow at the base of the leaves. Either way, the fig tree Jesus encountered was full of leaves but was not producing fruit.

He used the tree as an example of the temple and people not producing fruit. Jesus and His disciples had just left the temple, and it (God’s house) was not performing the way it should. People were cheating others when exchanging money. Even the temple Priests had the last say about whether or not your animal sacrifice was good enough. Many times, they turned animals away that were “blemish,” free and suitable for sacrifice. This forced people to purchase animal sacrifices at the temple, which the temple priests got a cut of. The temple was not being used as a house to worship God. It had become a place of sin and profit in many ways.

Jesus also expects us, as Christians, to bear fruit. We are not only to grow in the faith and God’s Word, but we are expected to spread the Gospel to others. Jesus also has told us to bear fruit by serving others as He did. (Remember the washing of the disciple’s feet?)

Finally, Jesus tells the disciples and us how powerful prayer is.

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.”

Without faith, prayer is an empty gesture. We pray to God the Father and His Son Jesus because we believe. We believe God created the world. We believe God sent His only Son to save us from sin. And we believe that God’s Holy Spirit was sent a Pentecost and enters us through the waters of baptism to be our guide and counselor throughout our life.

When we pray in faith to Jesus, we’re telling Him, “I believe,” in (everything I just said in the paragraph above). We believe that He, Jesus, can and will answer our prayers. Perhaps our prayers won’t be answered the way we expect or the way we want. And, they may not be answered in the timeline you and I hope for. But rest assured through repentance, faith, and prayer, they will be answered.

Dear Lord. Please forgive us for the times we curse and get angry in an unrighteous way. For this, we are genuinely sorry. We would also like to thank you for prayers answered and the many blessings we receive each day. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.