The Bible readings for July and August were written by Mr Dougie Wolf, Probationer Minister at Inverness East Church.
Friday 1st July
Do we give glory to God, or are we afraid of who is watching? One of the biggest fears a person has is what will others say if I do something different; if I praise Him joyfully, if I dance, if I lift my hands, if I look or wear something different. The parents of the man born blind, who has been healed and can now see must have wanted to jump, shout, and sing for joy. Rather, they bow to the religious leaders, instead of worshiping God. The son of the parents declares the goodness of the Lord’s grace and mercy by telling the leaders what is ‘remarkable’ v.30. His statement reveals they neither know Jesus nor His Father, the God of Moses. The man knows the truth that such a thing like renewing sight, can only come from what is good and holy. If Jesus was from Satan, he would have kept Him in darkness – because Satan is the prince of darkness. Our thoughts are to proclaim the God of all healing, the Son that renews sight, and the Holy Spirit who gives wisdom to understand is great and wonderful in all His ways.
Saturday 2nd July
Jesus firstly speaks a warning to the leaders that they are not true shepherds, His explanation of how the sheep follow the shepherd they know. His second explanation declares those who choose to take short cuts by going over the wall are thieves because they have not come through Him, the true gate. Jesus, showing through His authority He can lay down His life for all who follow Him. He later did such an act of love by His death on the cross. Although the sadness of this event should bring us to despair, rather it gives us hope that God’s Son was willing to die for us. As He explained, the shepherd would remain if the wolf appeared, unlike the hired hand, or false shepherds who would run. Our trust therefore should be in the one and only true Shepherd, who was willing to do all that His Father asked of Him. Save the world with His love.
Sunday 3rd July
Jesus has always professed to move in the will of God, and He, once again, moves and explains such a direction. The understanding of ‘day and night’ within the Bible represents doing what God wants, firstly, in the light (the day) or not. Secondly, the dark way is our own selfishness (the night), and this is usually without consulting God. We see this shown throughout the word of God. Even with the first humans to walk with God, Adam and Eve walked naked in the garden with God (in the light of day). Then after choosing their own way, that which was against God’s commands, they walked in darkness, wanting to hide from God, even wanting to be covered by clothes. Everything that is good and in God’s ways is done in the light of day for His purpose. Everything that is selfish and dark is done at night, so others cannot see our evil desires. Jesus walked to the place of death in the day, with no fear of being attacked, because He performed God’s will. If He had done as such in the night, it would have been in secret and not through the power of God’s ways. His truth will set us free, by being in the light and correct, so everyone will notice and give Glory to God.
Monday 4th July
Jesus is truly the only resurrection. In His explanation of life in Him (v.25-26) is one of profound hope. We are submitted to this body, and all its functions of decay and age. Yet if we submit to Christ, we will not only be resurrected, we will live eternally, the blessed assurance of a wonderful life forever in His glory. Reminded of the true sense of Jesus’ words, I think of the song:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation purchase of God, Born of His Spirit washed in His Blood.
This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the daylong;
Perfect submission, perfect delight, visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Saviour am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Songwriter – Fanny Crosby
What a beautiful security we have in Christ, knowing that He will never forsake or leave us. We are truly blessed with the Hope of Glory.
Tuesday 5th July
Jesus has given His promise to those around Him that Lazarus would be raised from the dead. Even with this reassurance many doubt what He is capable of; even Martha, Lazarus’ sister, spoke of her concerns, bringing Jesus’ actions into question. We have, in many ways, done very similar, when, as children of God and being full of the Spirit of God, we question all that God can do in and around our lives. The example is then laid out for us that gives us a reassurance in Christ, He then continued to give all honour and glory to His Father, praying to God for the overwhelming action to take place. ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…’ Then in front of many eyes God gave deliverance to the dead man, and Lazarus walked out of the grave. We have a promise in Christ that we will walk forever in Glory, one day being with Him in eternity. Surrounded by death and illness in our own lives can bring a real sense of faithlessness, but we must remember how these verses give us the understanding of God’s power over death through the resurrection of Christ. Death has no sting or hold on us anymore.
Wednesday 6th July
Although Jesus had performed many miracles, and had not committed any crime He was about to be sentenced to death. As we learn from the very beginning of John this would not be from those of a different faith, or religion; it would be from His own people, the Jews. The truth was it was not just from His people, but the Jewish religious leaders. They had come to the conclusion that Jesus would bring death to the Jewish people if He were allowed to live. Some of these conclusions were founded on their own personal selfishness, and concerns that they would lose their power. This could not have been further from the truth. In God’s perfect plan, Jesus would be the Saviour of the world through His death. The leaders would have seen true life if they had listen and trusted in Jesus, rather, they stayed in a life of death without the Spirit of God. Although we sometimes cannot work out how life can come from death, trusting in Christ as the Lamb of God brings new life. His death on the cross brought the perfect sacrifice for our sin; no longer do we need to pay the price.
Thursday 7th July
Many of us would question why Jesus allowed Judas to be amongst His followers, especially when Judas was looking after his own needs and not the needs of others. As we have just read, the quibbling about the cost of the perfume used to prepare Jesus’ feet was about Judas’ selfish desires. He was not thinking of the promise of eternal things, but earthly hording of money. Jesus allowed such a desire to continue for the purpose of the Kingdom of God, so that through Jesus’ death all Glory would be given to God. Judas played a part in his death, and then he hands the Lord Jesus Christ over to the Chief Priests. If He had not allowed Judas to think he was invincible, Judas would have thought more of Jesus than his ultimate purpose; to betray Jesus. Sad as it may seem, some people in life, even though they see all of God’s Glory, as Judas did, they never see the whole picture of the Kingdom, they look through tainted vision. Their own vision and purpose, which gives them the goals of self-desire; God’s vision is far from this purpose, His ways and deeds are that all may know salvation. In Jesus Christ we all have such a purpose of eternal glory. Like Martha we are to serve Jesus with all that we have, even though it may seem we have nothing left.
Friday 8th July
Jesus was processioned into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt, so as to be worshipped for His victory. Not a victory over human enemies, but a victory over the spiritual principalities in the Kingdom of God, through His death to come. If Jesus had have won a physical war like the people thought it would be, His entrance would have been on a great horse. On a donkey’s colt it showed the servant heart of Jesus, His willingness to lower Himself unto death. Many people think that they should have a greater position in this life we live, possibly because they see themselves as better than others. God sees all people as the same, worth exactly the same. He was willing to lower Himself from the heavenly places, His princely role, so that we might have entrance into heaven, an eternal life of glory. Whilst on earth we should lower ourselves to serve others, by giving and respecting those lesser than us. If we think we can rule with distinction in this world, our thoughts are set in this world not the heavenly places of our Father. Many stories are told of the homeless entering churches, and the congregation turning their noses at them. What have you done in the past? How did you respond? ‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’ Hebrews 13:2.
Saturday 9th July
Jesus’ beautiful illustration of a kernel of wheat dying, that there may be more come to life through its death. It is for me a perfect example of the love Jesus has, not only for those around Him, who profess their devotion, but also those that are to come in the Kingdom of God. Although His heart is troubled by the enormity of the situation, and the pain to come, He is willing to endure much that we will go free. The passion of Christ is overwhelming torn between His life on earth, and His life in heaven with His Father. Imagine you know there is much still to do, still many to heal and save. Imagine at a word you could bring this all into being. Your love for the now has to give way for the love of what will come through faith, the faith of others in you. Jesus portrays that we must have faith in God, that He alone can build His church. Our devotion is to trust in God for the way ahead, whilst we think all will be lost if we leave. We must set in place the reliance on Jesus, rather than people building a store house round us. Likewise, our love for those around us and things around us has to diminish – our gaze is to be on the glory ahead, the heavenly realms of eternity. Think of all Paul did and was, till the moment Christ revealed Himself to him. He was transformed giving us some of the most profound text ever written. ‘We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.’ 2 Corinthians 5:8
Sunday 10th July
Jesus has done many signs and wonders, many miracles that could not be deception. His wonders proved that He was indeed the Son of God. Still many people questioned who He was, and some because of fear. Their fear, like ours, was that of not being accepted. As the passage tells us today some of the leaders secretly believed in what they saw, they saw Jesus as God’s Son. Yet they kept this close to their hearts, rather than publicly confessing their faith. Have we been in similar settings, where to confess Jesus would mean we are publicly alienated? ‘They loved human praise more than praise from God.’ v.43. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus knew in their hearts what they were thinking, as is the same for you and me. God can see directly into our hearts and knows that our fearful hearts don’t love Him enough to overcome the fear of man. Timothy expressed that we should not be ashamed of the gospel which is Jesus, but stand in the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline: 1 Timothy 1:7. Timothy also reminds us that the way to salvation is through His grace and mercy, knowing we have done can help. In this same way we must realise that standing in our own weakness we are totally reliant on Jesus. Let us stand in Christ, standing strong in His sureness.
Monday 11th July
John 12: 44-50
As we listen to the words of Jesus, we must realise that He is speaking the words of truth, and as we make the decision about following His truth, we are to take very seriously that warning He gives us. Although He does not come to judge, but to save the world, one day a judgement will come to all who do not accept the words He has spoken. As we see, this accepting Him, as the Son of God, the one sent by God, means we are therefore in the light, that is Jesus, or we are in the darkness, that is Satan. This brings us to an eternal position with powerful consequences! Are we heaven bound, or is hell going to be our eternal dwelling? A very serious choice has to be made, and one that is immediate, for as Jesus once said, ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.’ Matt. 24:42. Ponder these things as you look to your future, and make the right decision about Christ, turn your life from the darkness into the light.
Tuesday 12th July
Jesus professed His love for the disciples in a way only a servant would have acted, but for some this was not right. They thought themselves as being greater than those around them, possibly because they had been chosen, or singled out as the follower closer to Him. Jesus, understanding the heart of man, showed them such a sign as washing feet to explain the significance of their attitude. Our attitude should not elevate us above the one we call Lord. He lowered Himself lower than the angels, yet He was in fact maker of the universe. He became man that we might see the love God has for all peoples. Therefore, we should remember we are to serve all that God has created with a righteous attitude, not seeing them as any different than we are. This might be difficult if someone has committed a great sin of vengeance or murder, etc. God still loves them and is willing to forgive; this is the mercy and grace of God. We should have a similar love for one another, lowering ourselves to humility like Christ.
Wednesday 13th July
Many don’t understand how the death of Jesus could bring life everlasting. Judas, although being with Christ for many years, and seeing all that he would have seen was similarly unsure of the full purpose of Jesus. Judas’ actions therefore seem to show a person who does not know or understand what Jesus had come to do. After Satan had entered Judas, we see the two concocted the betrayal of Jesus. Sometimes in our own lives we don’t understand the full purpose of Christ’s work in this life, and as a consequence we turn away from the will of God. Our motives must be to ask; ‘what do we require of the Lord?’ rather than; ‘what the Lord requires of us?’ Micah 6:8 shows us perfectly how we should respond: ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
Examine what you think when not all goes your own way, and ask the Lord to show you the reason of your heart toward Him. As with worship, we should bring to Him what is due to His Holy name, all glory and honour.
Thursday 14th July
Jesus has seen what Peter will do after He has suffered death on the cross. But while He is to ascend to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, Jesus also knows that the disciples have a job ahead of them teaching and telling of Jesus’ ways and His command is to love one another as He has loved them. Peter, wanting to stay in the security of the Lord’s presence, questions why He cannot come with Jesus also. He goes as far as to say ‘I’ll lay down my life for you.’ (v.37) Jesus, knowing Peter would deny Him at that time, tells him of his discord to come. When such a time of persecution is near, when our faith is questioned, like Peter and Judas do we waver and turn from Christ? If so, Jesus’ love is never ending, He continues to love us no matter what we do. This is why He commanded us to ‘Love one another, as I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ (v.34) He knows what is to come, and therefore tells us twice in the same sentence, bringing the point that love shows that we, as His disciples, will be known by our love for one another.
Friday 15th July
Some of the most famous words are spoken in the passage, about the way to the Father being through Jesus. Yet, we are often found asking Philip’s question -‘Show us the Father and that will be enough for us’. Our reliance on Jesus, even though we’ve known Him for a time has become distant and clouded by our own ways and needs. Yet Jesus points out to the disciples that we are to focus on Him, and carry on doing the things He did, and we will be doing the things of the Father. We know the Father and His will, and we know the Father lives in Jesus. This is sometimes the great obstacle in our lives, are we doing our own will not the Lord’s? Jesus’ way was that of a servant in everything He did, even to death. The question we should be asking rather than, ‘show us the Father’, should be ‘what are we doing that is like Jesus?’
Saturday 16th July
In the passage today we read of Jesus telling His disciples He will leave them, it is therefore natural that they would be upset and sad. Jesus brings comfort to them through a power they seem to be unaware of, and as we find one the world does not know. This is so true of disciples and for that matter the world, but the disciples and many of Jesus’ followers would come to know the Holy Spirit at the time of Pentecost. What of the world finding Him, how do they come to know the power and Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit? Only through the resurrection of Jesus and believing in His death on the cross can the world know the power of the Holy Spirit. We see in Acts 8 the story of Simon the Sorcerer who asked if he could buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter’s answer showed that Simon had selfish motives in mind, and Peter told him to ‘Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that He may forgive you’ – Acts 8:22. This brings understanding as to why Jesus told the disciples such a great power was coming and how the world would not know Him. The Holy Spirit cannot be attained through some whim for the sake of self-desires, He is the gift only through salvation. We must first put our trust in Jesus, and then we have access to the Father. We see in John, then and only then, will they send the Holy Spirit to do the following: be with us forever (14:16); live with us and in us (14:17); teach us (14:26); remind us of Jesus’ words (14:26, 15:26); convicts us of sin (16:8); Guides us in truth (16:13); brings glory to Christ (16:14).
Sunday 17th July
One of the most crucial things with gardening fruit trees is the pruning; if you don’t cut off dead wood the rest of the plant suffers! What is Jesus telling those who follow Him to do? Two things are apparent within this passage that some people find hard to grasp. Firstly, like the pruning of the fruit tree, we must go through a time when God cuts us back from the things we are doing, to the things He wants us to do in Him. Many people get upset at cutting a well growing plant or tree; they think because it is still growing it is useful. Well it might be for itself, but only for a period and before long the whole tree will suffer – leaving it attached is stretching the tree beyond its capabilities, and what usually happens is that branch either dies or breaks off under stress. Secondly, notice a branch cannot live by its own accord; it has to rely on the vine to receive its nutrients. It cannot sustain itself, and if a branch breaks off it will not generally grow if planted again – it has no roots with which to draw water. We are very similar in our lives as Christians. If we do things for our own good the rest of the church or body will suffer, we are one body and must work together as the church. We are also incapable of living without Jesus to sustain us, try living in your own power and see how long you last. Jesus finally commanded us to do one effective thing in this passage that will aid our sustainability in God’s Kingdom ‘Love each other’. (v17).
Monday 18th July
Whilst we see Jesus warning us about the way the world will show its hate for the Christian, because we love and follow Him, He also speaks of the love He has for us by sending the Holy Spirit to be with us, that we will not be left alone. As the Life Application Study Bible explains ‘Jesus uses two names for the Holy Spirit — “Advocate” and “Spirit of Truth.” The word Advocate conveys the helping, encouraging, and strengthening work of the Spirit. Spirit of Truth points to the teaching, illuminating, and reminding work of the Spirit’. The Holy Spirit ministers to both the head and the heart, and both dimensions are important. We must take great encouragement from this teaching, and remember when things are tough, in every way; we can come to an Advocate and Spirit of Truth who will aid us in all ways. ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you’. Duet 31:6.
Tuesday 19th July
In any relationship there is sorrow when we are parted from those we love and the disciples weren’t any different. They had spent years with Jesus, given up many things to follow Him and knowing Jesus is talking about leaving them, in fact He is talking about dying. Many deaths are hard to deal with when it’s someone you’ve closely followed for years. So the disciples had worry in their hearts, worry about how they would survive in the world that hated Christians so much. We have not seen such hatred in our times as we see these days, even in our own society, people are condemning followers of Christ, perhaps not to death, yet in some countries through the cruellest of murders. Jesus points to the Holy Spirit as a comforter for those who trust in Him. This is very important; we must trust in Him as He could not send the Holy Spirit before He had gone to be with the Father. So we cannot have the Holy Spirit before we trust in Christ and all He has done. As He points out in this passage the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, calling it to repentance. Then revealed to us is the righteousness of God, and we are transformed by His grace into His ways. We must first trust and believe in Christ for such salvation.
Wednesday 20th July
How many times do we feel like the world and all around us are against everything we say about Jesus? If we talk about Him and in fact act like Jesus, people look on with outlandish eyes. Think back to the passage today, and notice that Jesus was explaining to the disciples that the world would look on with joy at His death. Yet the disciples would be grieving the loss of their teacher and later would come to realise it was their Saviour they mourned. Jesus explained that truth through a statement of not being seen for a little while, but after His resurrection they would see Him in all His glory transcending to heaven. Through this hope of glory in Christ, through this resurrection promise we will see Him. We therefore have nothing to fear when all around us seems untoward! We will one day be lifted up into glory and spend eternity with our Saviour. What a promise of peace we have, a peace that overcomes all the concerns of this life on earth. Something the world cannot comprehend, for their hope is only life-long, yet ours is eternal.
Thursday 21st July
Have you ever stopped to think about how long you live! In comparison to Jesus we cannot comprehend what eternity is like. Within this passage we see that He was with the Father at all times, even before the beginning of our time period – the time that He made and put into place. And we see in the work of Jesus His love for His Father has never changed or decreased. The Son of God wants to bring glory to the Father at this last hour of His life. He wants His life to show all that God has been, done, and will do for Him, even though His death is imminent. Jesus knows through Him many will come to give glory to God for the very salvation and mercy that God has put in place because of the cross. His suffering will bring a sacrifice that completes the work of grace to humanity. The question we should ask ourselves in light of Jesus’ example is – do we show similar love for the Father in our daily lives? Are we showing God’s glory in our lives? We must turn to the Father through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit each day, and ask if our lives could show glory to God.
Friday 22nd July
Jesus is lifting up His voice to Father God; He is praising God for all He has done for the sake of those He has called to be true to His word. He clearly states that He is not praying for the world, as they have not listened or seen the word of God, and have denied it. Jesus is praying for the protection of those who have followed His word. Jesus is praying for protection from the evil one as he prowls around attempting to steal and deceive the souls of people. It is good to notice that He uses a powerful accreditation, His own name. He makes many references to the fact that God has given Him the power to proclaim such power in His name – Jesus, which was a name given by God and we should notice that. When God gives names, it is given for a reason. The reason in Jesus’ case is because He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, all power and authority is given to Him, all people and authorities shall bow at His name.
Saturday 23rd July
Jesus is the great intercessor and asks His Father to look on those who will hear the message through the disciples. We have a friend and brother in Jesus; He cares so much for us that even at this time, close to His death He was thinking of the mission ahead. He was thinking of preparing the Holy Spirit for His mission ahead. By asking the Father to bless the unity of the Church, Jesus was to send a message out into the world, one of love and unity for all to see and understand that we are God’s children. As with any children, they might squabble and disagree, but true brothers and sisters always make up and come together in love. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will do as Jesus asked and bring us together in the oneness of spirit to see Jesus glorified and His Church made one. The world will look on and see that Jesus’ words did not fall by the way, that the world would know that we are like Jesus and Jesus was like the Father.
Sunday 24th July
Although John does not go into the details of Jesus’ anguish like Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it is still evident He was betrayed, not only by Judas, but also through the disciples doing the opposite of what He wanted. With Peter He did not want a fight, with the rest of the disciples He longed for them to know His purpose. Even to the very end Jesus only wanted to serve, through His death to bring redemption and in his very last miracle He heals his enemy, Malchus, whose ear had been cut off by Peter (as seen in Luke 22:51). We are sometimes in the same frame of mind, thinking that God wants us to fight for His cause, but we are instead to show compassion and love to those who treat us wrongly. Jesus was the perfect example of this through His death. He could have walked away un-noticed as He did in the past, although this time He goes willingly to be sentenced. Through such an act of suffering He should show the Isaiah prophecies came to pass. Isaiah 53:11 – After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Monday 25th July
As we see Jesus taken to trial, we must think of how He felt, a servant willing to put His life up for ransom. He was now alone and disbanded from His followers, His disciples, He was to be severed from the world. What is shown in the questioning of Jesus, they thought more of status than respect for the truth. Jesus told them He had not hidden any of His teachings, but rather spoke freely in the places of worship and large gatherings. Unlike the teachers of law, they had to do everything in the dark of night; their dealings were covered over by lies and deceit – untruths. What is more, when Peter came to be questioned about his acquaintance with Jesus he covered up the truth with lies! Are we to do the same as we walk through life, do we speak in one way and act in another? Peter found himself in a place of darkness, and would soon understand through guilt the failure of speaking untruth. Let us think of the time we have spoken wrongly in the Lord’s name, and ask for forgiveness.
Tuesday 26th July
Peter is still denying being one of the disciples, he finds himself to be cold; so he gathers with the other people in darkness, in the temple courtyard. Peter tries to blend into the surrounding crowd; he tries to be one of them watching at a distance. Yet the people around recognise him to be a disciple, one of Jesus’ followers. Have we ever been in a place where we wanted to just fit in rather than have to justify our actions? Instead we stand out like a sore thumb people. No, we are not one who is in the darkness of this world, whether it is because of our attitude, actions, or our speech. We are found to be different from those around us. Peter found himself being known to be different, but his conviction of faith could not find the true belief in Jesus. What he had been told previously was not enough to give him strength in the belief of Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection. He did not have the faith to tell others of the future glory he had heard Christ talk of to him. So he denied his Lord and Saviour; he left Him alone to face all his suffering. Jesus carried it all for you, me, and Peter. To Him be the glory and honour for great things He has done.
Wednesday 27th July
At the beginning of the trial everyone wanted Jesus to show He was starting an uprising against the different authorities present, the ruling Rome; Jews, Religion. Jesus continues to tell He only wants to bring truth, a truth that shows a relationship between God and man. And even within this statement we see God is first and man is second, but this was different for the above authorities! They wanted to be first and above God in all they did, they wanted to rule over Him. True worship is that of bowing before Him and His greatness, accepting His will for our lives, no matter what. Even to the very end of the trial Jesus was in control, and it neither fazed Him nor vexed His speech. Jesus knew God was in control and He was doing His will, so the plans of those who thought they were in control meant nothing. God reigns over all things, and His glory will shine forever, nothing can stop this fact. The promise is we’ll see that glory through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Thursday 28th July
One of the offensive parts of the crucifixion for the Jews was the sign placed above Jesus. ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’. It was written in three languages, so everyone in the region could read it, which meant those local and visiting could see who had been killed. Whether Pilate knew it or not, what he had done was to declare Jesus to be King over the Jewish people and he had also declared Jesus to be King from within the land Rome ruled. By declaring Jesus, who came from Nazareth, a King, an Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled. The Jewish leaders were angry at such a statement, because they knew people would see this as pointing to Jesus having status over them, Rome, and all people. If this man could have such a position before He was crucified, as Pilate had stated, what then of His reign as a martyr, and even when He is raised from the dead. No one had ever heard of a King coming back from the dead, not even the powerful Romans. This is the hope we cling to, Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Friday 29th July
Under the old system of atonement for sin, many sacrifices had to be given; this is because a person sinned again and again. Now the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus, was to die on the cross and a once and for all ransom was paid. The death of a person on the cross was very painful, and could take many hours. Jesus was not only carrying the weight of His body, He was carrying the weight of everyone’s sin, past, present, and future. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed.’ 1 Peter 2:24. We must recognise with our salvation in Christ all the debt has been paid, no more do we have to give sacrifices and offerings. No longer does anyone have to suffer and die like Jesus did, He has cancelled our sin and we can enter the Throne Room with clean hands and a pure heart.
Saturday 30th July
The two men who came to take Jesus’ body were followers; they did not do this publicly but quietly in the background. They had sought permission to remove and prepare Jesus after His crucifixion. This was a procedure that was practised by the Jews so the body of person could be laid to rest in a tomb. They would have done this under the cover of darkness, so as not to be seen, hiding the perfume and cloth required for the burial. Both men had prominent positions in the Jewish council, and if seen they could have face expulsion or persecution from the Jewish leaders. We think of the many times when we have kept our true identity from family, friends, and work colleagues. Possibly because of the fear of ridicule and upset, maybe even the loss of friendship or for that matter, a job. Jesus reminds us that we are to testify who He is, always. For if we do not He will not declare us before His Father, that is the Almighty God. Our fear, therefore, should not be of man, but rather true fear of God’s grace, mercy, and justice.
Sunday 31st July
Jesus has been placed in the tomb by two Jewish leaders in the dark of night, possibly with the aid of their servants. They, as a group, would have found no great difficulty in pushing the large stone over the entrance of the tomb, because a deep hole was chiselled out of the rock in front of the tomb’s entrance. This allowed the stone to rest in the hole and secure the tomb from grave robbers. It was estimated a group of twenty to thirty strong men would be needed to attempt to remove the stone; sometimes the task needed greater construction and would have been impossible through the night. When Peter and the other disciple arrived they saw no evidence of any construction, or indeed a large group. We can therefore calculate it was moved by a greater force, even angels! Why was such a task needed? Jesus had been raised from the dead, and this was through a physical miracle. Only God could intervene in such a miracle and to show we will one day do likewise. One day we will meet Jesus in the eternal glory.