Posts tagged "Week 7"
By Jeremy Pond
THEY SPIT ON HIM, AND TOOK THE STAFF AND STRUCK HIM ON THE HEAD AGAIN AND AGAIN. [MATTHEW 27:30]
I think some of the most difficult passage of scripture about Jesus is the detailed accounts of people mocking Him. Jesus was placed in an area allowing the entire company to be able to mock Him with words and physical abuse. Possibly one of the most humiliating actions is the men peering into the eyes of Jesus and spitting in His face. In order to spit into the face of Jesus they would have to get close and personal. It is something that you can’t do by moving with the crowd or mob. As they spit on Jesus they would look at Him and forcefully spew anger and hatred. To be in such a brutalized condition ands then to endure such humiliation must have broke His heart.
The details around this verse show the extreme humiliation Jesus endured, but the message speaks of Jesus’ incredible grace; one of His greatest messages. Jesus could see the emotions of each person that was causing him harm, yet he still gave each one the opportunity to be in heaven. He could have used his power as the King of the Jews to remove himself or others from this situation, but he endured the punishment.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Remember the seventeen words from this scripture the next time you feel that you have been humiliated. Is it really that bad? Could there be more troubles for the person(s) who have humiliated you than it appears? Choose to pray for those who persecute you and remember that Jesus is preparing to spend eternity with you.
Lord, give me the strength to channel any humiliation coming my way into your grace and forgiveness.
By Keith King
THE CENTURION, SEEING WHAT HAD HAPPENED, PRAISED GOD AND SAID, “SURELY THIS WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN.” [LUKE 23:47]
It is amazing to me that the one man who oversees the crucifixion of Jesus Christ comes to realize that Jesus is who He said He was. Imagine the moment as Jesus dies on the cross. Jesus breathes his last and the earth begins to shake. The sky changes in an instant and temple curtains tear in half. This is unlike any other crucifixion the Romans had performed. Usually, they just die on the cross and justice is served. However, in this circumstance the death of Jesus is so outstanding that even the Roman official bows and recognizes Jesus as a righteous man.
By praising God and recognizing Jesus’ righteousness, the centurion seems to understand that Jesus is not who he thought Him to be. There is no way this man was just another common criminal being punished by Rome.
In our lives, we also participate in and witness events every day that have significance and meaning that are beyond our initial understanding. We need to remember that the Lord is always present and we should seek His guidance and direction in our daily lives.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Do I take time to think about what God’s message is for me in my day-to-day activities?
Jesus, help me to see and understand your message in my daily life.
By Darrin Stafford
THEN HE SAID, “JESUS, REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM.” [LUKE 23:42]
This passage in Luke is referencing one of the two criminals who were hanging on crosses next to Jesus, asking Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. This verse shows the extent to which Jesus is willing to forgive ALL of us, if only we are willing to humble ourselves, ask for His forgiveness and accept Him into our lives.
But there is so much more to this scene, especially the verses before it and after it. Reading verses 39-43 you find that there are two criminals on crosses next to Jesus. To me, each criminal represents the two vastly different examples of this world in which we live. The first criminal mocks Jesus. And tells Him that if he truly is who He claims to be, why doesn’t He save himself and the others with Him? The other criminal realizes that he is getting just punishment for his crimes and accepts his demise. He also believes that Jesus is who He claims to be and feels that Jesus is not deserving of being crucified. He humbly asks Jesus to remember him in heaven. Jesus tells him that He will and that they will be together in heaven.
As I mentioned earlier, I think this illustration represents what we see in the world today. Many people are like the first criminal with hardened hearts, close-minds, and unrepentant of their sins. They go out of their way to dismiss the bible and its teachings, looking for satisfaction in life through material things. The second criminal represents those that truly seek Jesus and His gift of grace and forgiveness. They are people that understand they are not perfect and that they are sinners. It also illustrates that no matter the crime or situation, everyone is able to receive forgiveness and the opportunity to spend eternity with Jesus in heaven.
What Luke 23:42 really boils down to is the unconditional love, grace and forgiveness that can be given to anyone who will humble themselves. Understanding, that we are all sinners and that we can only receive forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. It also shows that even in the final moments of one’s life that a truly repentant person can be forgiven and saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Have you really grasped the magnitude of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross? Which criminal are you? Have you humbled yourself and accepted the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers to all of us?
Jesus, I pray that I never lose sight of your sacrifice and the grace that you so freely give to all those who come to you. May I never forget that you paid the ultimate sacrifice for all.
By Pete Schweider
TWO OTHERS, BOTH CRIMINALS, WERE LED OUT TO BE EXECUTED WITH HIM. [LUKE 23:32]
Jesus was crucified between two criminals. The two thieves shared a common title and yet are portrayed as vastly different. One of the men had a hardened heart of unbelief, whereas, the other man’s heart softened as he hung next to Jesus. The man with the softened heart sought refuge and forgiveness from Jesus. He turned to Jesus on the cross as asked to be remembered in the life to come. The other man laughed at his hope destroyed by a wicked heart. No troubles of themselves will change a wicked heart. Though Christ was in great struggle and agony, his heart was soft and open to the repentant criminal. Jesus promised the softhearted man a place in eternity! By this act of grace we are to understand that Jesus Christ died to open the kingdom of heaven to all who place their trust in Him. It is often said: “that in general men die as they live”.
What if two Christians were crucified alongside Jesus? What if one was suffering from a hardened heart? He had talked the talk, he knew all the right things to say, but his actions never matched his talk. He lived his whole life but never opened his heart to the promptings and direction of the Holy Spirit. Maybe for each believer we must continue to evaluate our hearts. Have we grown hardened? Are we pretending to follow Jesus and yet a deeper evaluation proves no real commitment? May your heart be softened by the incredible grace of Jesus that is offered to all those who will accept Him and then walk in obedience with Him.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
What place in the Kingdom (if any) may be held for that Christian with a hardened heart?
Lord, help me to always seek a desire for continuous strength, through You. Make my heart soft, so that I rely on You for everything that comes my way.
By Steve Logan
A LARGE CROWD TRAILED BEHIND, INCLUDING MANY GRIEF-STRICKEN WOMEN. [LUKE 23:27]
The crowd was following Jesus. Actually, they were following a man named Simon who was following Jesus. But Simon was not following Jesus for the same reason as the rest of the crowd. By seeming misfortune, Simon, who had just wandered in from the countryside, had been grabbed by the soldiers and forced to carry Jesus’ cross all the way to the place where Jesus was to be crucified.
The passage doesn’t say why Simon had been singled out. All it says is that he was from Cyrene, in Northern Africa. Perhaps he looked different than the other people in the crowd, or he was appeared fit and strong, and was thus a noticeable target. Or maybe, being an out-of-towner, he made the mistake of asking someone in too loud a voice what was going on. Can you imagine the awkwardness he would have felt as a sudden nervous hush fell over the crowd and all eyes, including those of the soldiers, turned toward him?
Although the passage says there were many grief-stricken women in the following crowd, surely there were also many of the same people who had called for his crucifixion. It must have been an uncomfortable mix of tempers and emotions.
Today, we have the benefit of reading about what happened on the way to Golgotha and knowing that the story of Jesus not only didn’t end that day, but that the best part was still to come! Perhaps by the time Simon handed that heavy cross over to the soldiers he felt honored to have been chosen to carry it. Perhaps he felt fortunate indeed!
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Would you have volunteered to carry the cross?
Lord, thank you for your Good News!
By Jim Connell
AS THEY LED HIM AWAY, THEY SEIZED SIMON FROM CYRENE, WHO WAS ON HIS WAY IN FROM THE COUNTRY, AND PUT THE CROSS ON HIM AND MADE HIM CARRY IT BEHIND JESUS. [LUKE 23:26]
One moment I’m a bystander, curious about the public spectacle and observing cautiously, maintaining the safety found in anonymously blending in with the crowd. The next moment, the soldiers thrust me into the center of attention at the point of a sword. I’m frightened, apprehensive, not wanting to be seen as guilty by association with a condemned man. Will I be subject to ridicule? Will others also condemn me? Would I feel angry for being victimized and begrudgingly carry a heavy, unseemly burden?
But Simon must have known from the buzz in the crowd that this was the man who claimed to be the Messiah, The Son of Man. What a wondrous moment then to stand next to the Lord, to look into his eyes, past the blood and dirty sweat of his torn human body, and sense the splendor of who he really is. And in this faith, be able to see the great honor granted him to serve Jesus in such a significant way, to walk the last mile with him, shouldering his load, but helping him to fulfill God’s will.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
We are all presented with opportunities to serve Jesus each day, in the home, office, or community. It’s easy to blend in with the crowd and feel safe. But when the critical moment arrives to serve, do we have the faith and courage to step forward? Do we see it as a burden? Will we be embarrassed or afraid of ridicule? Or, will we recognize God calling us to serve and be thankful for the honor?
God, grant me the courage and heart to serve you gladly.