It feels like the end, as though the hands have gripped, the muscles have tensed, and any second now the rug will be whipped out from under us all. I feel overshadowed, undermined.
I am afraid. I am afraid that my hopes were in vain, that everything will fall away and I will be left here [...]
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ ” (John 1:29)
We’re leaping forward 30 years from the birth of Jesus to the beginning of His three-year ministry before the cross. His cousin John the Baptist declares to all who will listen exactly who Jesus is — the Lamb of God.
But how can a lamb take away sin? All those who heard John’s words understood. They had seen the lambs slaughtered as a sacrifice to temporarily pay for their sin. They had seen the blood; they had counted on the fact that those lambs bled as a substitute for them.
Jesus, too, would be sacrificed, along with a quarter of a million lambs killed during Passover. That’s the estimate of secular historians of the time, that more than 250,000 lambs were sacrificed in Jerusalem during the Passover celebrations every year.
Those were the lambs of the people. Jesus was the Lamb of God, slaughtered to take away — permanently — the sins of the world, of all those who trust in Him for their salvation.
Think: If someone asked why Jesus was sacrificed like a lamb to pay for our sins, how would you explain it?
Pray: Thank God for sacrificing His Son Jesus as a lamb to take away the sin of the world.
Do: Read Hebrews 10:1-14 to hear more about Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice.
It shouldn’t be this confusing. Everything is couched in vagueness, all the instructions are cryptic. I start out one way with confidence and a clear direction in mind, and always end up lost. Or not so much lost, just always travelling and never getting any closer. Always journeying and never arriving.
Wouldn’t it have been much [...]
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ ” (Luke 2:10-12)
We’re time traveling on the PW devo this week as we countdown to Resurrection Sunday. We’ve jumped more than 650 years from Isaiah’s prophesy of the crucifixion to the announcement of Jesus’ birth.
This “good news of great joy” feels different to me when we’re standing closer to the cross than to the Christmas tree. We know at Christmas that Jesus was born to be the Savior, but we remember at Easter that His saving mission was to suffer and die for our sins before being raised back to life.
The words in these verses were followed by an army of angels splitting the night sky to praise God for this act of peace, this gift of His favor. The Father wasn’t subtle when announcing His Son or Jesus’ reason for coming to be with us.
Think: Why do you think God announced the Savior with angels? What other moments in Jesus’ life can you think of when God either spoke Himself or sent angels to tell someone something about Jesus?
Pray: Thank God for the good news of great joy that He sent Jesus to be our Savior.
Do: Read Mark 16:6 and notice the similarities between that Resurrection announcement and this birth announcement.
A gesture of love so extravagant, so over the top, so extraordinary. The audacity of it, something so valuable, so irreplaceable, dashed at Jesus feet – it’s just the sheer ‘all or nothing’ attitude of it all. There’s no going back; once it’s done it’s done.
So why do I feel uncomfortable?
Is it that I wouldn’t [...]
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
According to Bible scholars, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words 700 years before Jesus was crushed, punished, wounded, and killed for our sins. And if you read the whole chapter of Isaiah 53, you’ll see that it’s not just kind of close to what happened with Jesus. It describes both what happened and why it happened.
That would be like discovering a document from the 1300s clearly describing what has happened in our time. It’s almost as if the same God who sent Jesus to live and then die and then live again told Isaiah it was going to happen. And that’s exactly what we believe.
For our study this week, we’re going to start the countdown clock for Easter with Isaiah and start leapfrogging forward in time each day as we get closer and closer to the discovery of that empty tomb. Our first leap will be the biggest, so come back tomorrow.
Think: If God is outside of time, how hard would it be for Him to reveal to Isaiah something that was going to happen 700 years in the future? Does thinking about this give you more or less confidence in the reliability of God’s Word?
Pray: Thank God for sending Jesus to be pierced, crushed, punished, and wounded for our sins so we could have peace with God and be healed.
Do: Read the whole chapter of Isaiah 53.
This isn’t what I expected. Give me the conquering hero, someone I can fight for, a man I can be proud to serve. Give me a movement to be part of, a rule to live by, a cause. Give me a mission, a challenge. But you ask me to die. This is not what I [...]
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)
Defeat evil. Check. Okay, we’re done. We’ve spent two weeks looking at a list of bullet-point commands that describe what Christians do, what it means — specifically — to walk after Jesus.
This last one, though, sounds like something Uncle Ben would say to Peter Parker. It’s a heroic statement. After all these commands about setting ourselves aside for the good of others, about not getting even, about giving the bad guys drinks of water — we find out that the point is to defeat evil.
We’re not just following the selfless Son of God who died on the cross for our sin; we’re also following the powerful Son of God who defeated death. We’re following the King who will rule the universe forever.
Christians don’t let evil beat them by joining in the evil to win a false victory; they overwhelm evil by refusing to stop doing good, no matter what it costs. Thats’ how Jesus walked.
Think: Have you ever seen someone overcome evil by doing good? What might that look like in real life?
Pray: Ask God to help you not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.
Do: Read Romans 13 to learn more about walking like Jesus.
Bring on the revolution! We’ve seen too many years of stagnation, resignation – a country occupied, a people oppressed, a faltering and compromised leadership locked in endless cycles of pointless debate. It’s time for action. Let’s turn some tables.
We’ve got a radical new hope, we’re coming through your gates, and there’s nothing you can do [...]
“On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ ” (Romans 12:20)
Do you really want to make someone pay for hurting you? Make him a sandwich. That’ll show him.
Paul mines this wisdom from Proverbs to further his case for why we should not try to get revenge (see yesterday’s devo). And it’s an idea that is full of surprises. First, feed your enemies. In response to their evil to you, do good to them.
But just when you think that sounds unrealistically spiritual and pious, Paul says you should do it to hurt them — to set their heads on fire! Get this: He is not saying we should turn off our desire to defeat our enemies, after all; he’s just saying revenge — paybacks — don’t work.
If you really want to win in the end, kindness, forgiveness, and a good lunch are your most powerful weapons.
Think: Would you say you have any real enemies? Could you ever see yourself doing something good for them? Do you believe what the Bible says here that goodness hurts the hurters?
Pray: Ask God to help you to be willing to feed your enemies and trust Him to take care of you.
Do: Read what Jesus said to His conquered people about how to respond to their enemies in Matthew 5:43-48.