17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.[a]But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:17 - 27 (ESV)
Jesus was arrested and bound by the soldiers and taken before Annas, father-in-law of the High Priest Caiaphas. Annas is also called the High Priest in other passages so there is some debate over why he is also called the High Priest. Some suggest that Caiaphas and Annas shared the position and others suggest that since he was High Priest before Caiaphas that he was probably retired from the position but still held the title.
The death of Jesus is a graphic and gruesome thing. Many of us have either seen movies, read books or even imagined in your mind what this horrific event was like, but I do not think we can fathom what it was really like. The death Jesus suffered was a painful, humiliating and violent one, yet it was necessary to accomplish the will of the Father. Crucifixion was a method of capital punishment used by many nations including Greece and Persia. The Romans used it as a means to execute slaves and criminals.
In the Gospel of John, the final two statements made by Jesus were first a personal need, “I thirst”, and the second is a declaration of completion of the task, “It is finished!” What was finished? Jesus has accomplished what He came to do. The law has been fulfilled and redemption has been made. Through Jesus’ death, humanity can have peace with God. He has borne the penalty of sin for humanity so that those who believe and obey would not face this penalty.
It was nearing the Sabbath before Passover and the process of death was going to be sped up by breaking the legs of those being crucified. They wanted to get this over, so they could go ahead and celebrate the Passover. However, Jesus had already given up His spirit and was lifeless so there was no need to break His legs (thus fulfilling prophecy). To ensure He was in fact dead the Roman soldier pierced his side.
It is believed that both Joseph and Nicodemus were Sanhedrin and followers of Jesus. Joseph must have been a person of influence because typically a person who was crucified was just thrown in a common grave.
Today, this devotional ends the Season of Lent, but the story does not end here. This account is gruesome, brutal, and somewhat tragic but altogether necessary. The death of Jesus Christ establishes God’s new covenant of grace, atonement and redemption with humanity. Let us all remember, today may be a sad day in the Gospel account, but we must remember, Sunday is on the horizon.
Happy Easter! He is RISEN!
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”10 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.)11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. John 18:1 - 12 (ESV)
Once Jesus finishes His prayer and concludes His farewell discourse, He went to a garden to pray. Judas knew Jesus would be there at this time, so he brings with him Roman soldiers (possibly up to 200 soldiers) and the temple police to have Jesus arrested. Judas kisses Jesus, but John does not record it; however, we know he did from other Gospel accounts. Jesus meets the group and asks who they are seeking? They respond, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He replies, “I am He.” The literal translation is “I am.” John tells us the soldiers drew back or as the NET Bible says, “they retreated” or moved back and fell to the ground. What happened at this moment? Why did the soldiers fall? More conservative biblical scholars believe the soldiers in the front may have jumped back when Jesus unexpectedly advanced forward causing those in the front to start a domino effect falling to the ground. Others believe they fell because a Theophany (an appearance of God to humans) appeared and caused His enemies to fall back and fall prostrate before Him. What we do know is Jesus is in control of the situation. One commentary reads, “We see they are struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Ac 26:14). It was the glorious effulgence (radiance) of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them. This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up”.
I like what Pastor Tim Keller says in his sermon I AM HE; “Nobody can stand on their feet in the presence of God.” The power of God is awesome in all senses of the word. Not only is it awesome, but awe inspiring. I believe in Jesus we see the power of God manifested in His name (I AM, Yahweh). If the mere mention of the name of God can bring a squad of soldiers to their knees, then we ought to recognize and respect the power of God altogether.
Jesus asks them again whom they seek, and he informs them He is the one they seek. He tells them to let the men with Him go unharmed. Peter decides he wants to seize the opportunity and he attacks the High Priest’s servant and cuts off his ear. Peter’s knee jerk reaction spurs Jesus to let everyone know He is not seeking violence and that He will go peacefully. In fact, He rebukes Peter by asking him, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” This is His way of saying to Peter, “This all has to happen. This has been set since the beginning of time. I must do as the Father says in order to accomplish the plan from the start.” As we can see Jesus has accepted the mission the Father has given to Him. His death on the cross was not a hiccup in the plan of God. It was THE plan from the beginning.
 I would encourage you to read Exodus 3 so you can get a better understanding of the impact of this statement.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (Jn 18:6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34 - 35 (ESV)
Today is Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy Thursday is derived from the Latin phrase “Dies Mandatum” which means the mandate or “The Day of the new commandment.” Today’s reading highlights the commandment or mandate that Jesus gave to His disciples on the eve of His death. Traditionally, the Church observes this evening with a ceremonial foot washing service and concludes with a time of communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (John 13). Today, we will look at the three key observances of Maundy Thursday that are intended to prepare us for the remembrance of Christ’s death and celebration of His resurrection for our justification.
Three Key Observances for Maundy Thursday: (Matthew 26 & John 13 – 17)
Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.
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. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 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, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 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. John 13:1 - 5 (ESV)
Today and tomorrow we are going to step back and look at the events of the last supper. It was during this evening meal that Judas had purposed in his heart to betray Jesus. John tells us that the Devil had put it in Judas’ heart. He had already made up his mind that he was going to betray Jesus and turn Him over to the authorities in exchange for money.
In this passage we see the heart of Judas, but on the contrary we see the sincere heart of Jesus as He prepares to wash the feet of his disciples. At this point He knew Judas’ heart and He does not turn away from washing his feet. He serves His enemy with genuine love. We read, “The devil put it in his heart” and this just goes to show the underhanded plot of the Jewish leaders was satanic. Since we know the end of the story we know that Jesus’ death had to happen as it was planned from the beginning of time; however, it is revealed to us that the means in which it would be done would be through satanic influence.
After the meal Jesus strips down to His loin cloth and wraps a towel around His waist and begins to wash the disciple’s feet. This is a wonderful act of service Jesus does for His closest friends. However, we fail to see how much of a servant Jesus becomes in doing it. A foot washing was a task that was usually reserved for the lowest of servants. Peers and especially teachers of students did not “stoop” to the level of foot washing. It is suggested that some Jews believed that even Jewish slaves should not wash feet; instead this should be a job for gentile servants.
With Jesus taking off His outer clothing He shows that He is becoming the lowest of servants and serving His friends. Jesus did not perform this service to fulfill prophecy, He didn’t do it to gain respect from his disciples, and He did not do this because He wanted something in return. This is a true display of love and service for both His friends and enemies and He wants to show them the significance of being a follower of Jesus.
We can learn much about our conduct as followers of Jesus through His act of service. The overarching theme for this passage is about serving one another in Christ’s love. As we have seen here no task is to be considered below us and we are called to serve one another in love. The body of Christ should seek out ways to serve one another and to serve the community. Service is an action and it requires movement. Serving involves getting up and doing, it’s not about sitting and watching. Maybe this is why so many are reluctant to serve? People enjoy the spectator aspect of Christianity, but we do not always appreciate or value the movement aspect. We are all called to serve faithfully and forever. This includes the youngest of our children to the oldest of adults as they are able. Serving in Jesus’ name should bring such joy and happiness to our lives that we never grow tired of doing it. Sure, there will be times you may not be appreciated or even criticized for your act of service and this is why it is important that we do it for the Lord and not for people. People can be harsh, critical, and downright mean, but if you serve others with the heart of Jesus you will be blessed.
Do you have the heart of a servant? What are some practical steps you can take today to serve someone? Is there anyone the Lord has laid on your heart to bless by serving?
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:6 - 19 (ESV)
Today we will look at the two remaining purposes of Jesus’ prayer.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. John 17:1 - 5 (ESV)
Today we will look at the prayer of Jesus or also known as Jesus’ High Priestly prayer. Chapter 17 is my favorite chapter in the Gospel of John. In this passage we get a glimpse at the prayer life of Jesus. This is an intimate moment in which John was a witness and he shares it with us. It is a beautiful prayer and I think we as followers of Jesus can benefit from this prayer.
The chapter begins with Jesus looking to the heavens and praying to God the Father. This is believed to be the common stance for prayer (not the way we do it today with hands folded, heads bowed, and eyes closed) and he prays, “The hour has come…” which refers to his death, resurrection, and ascension (glorification). In His High Priestly prayer Jesus has a threefold purpose to the prayer, to pray for Himself, the disciples and for the church. Today we will look at the first purpose of his prayer.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. Mark 11:1 – 11 (ESV)
The people in this passage were aware of the setting surrounding the coming Messiah so when they saw Jesus coming into Jerusalem on the colt they understood what was going on. Many of them had false hopes about the Messiah. They were expecting Jesus to take charge and lead a revolution against Rome and set the nation of Israel free from the bondage of Rome. He could have easily allowed the crowd to get into a political riot but he was a gentle King. He was showing us that he was a peaceful and gentle king by riding a colt.
According to the Gospel of Luke, the religious leaders approached Jesus and demanded that he rebuke his disciples and the people praising him. They knew Jesus was accepting the praise of the people as the Messiah at this point. Jesus tells them that even if he were to silence them, the stones would cry out in praise to him. There was absolutely nothing that could silence the praise of the Messiah. Instead, Jesus rebukes the Pharisee’s for failing to see that this moment as the God ordained moment that it was With Palm Sunday, we are left with some challenges and questions. This weekend we celebrate and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we proclaim, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
We all know what comes next in the Gospel account of Jesus. Most of the people who were emphatically proclaiming Jesus as Messiah will turn against him and will join the riotous mobs who will scream, “Crucify him! Kill the blasphemer! He is not our king!”
The questions for you today is, “Are you in this for the duration? Are you committed to be a full disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to praise him during the good times as well as the bad? Are you willing to put your cloak on the ground and praise the King for who He is? Are you determined to follow and commit to the Lord in all seasons of life?” This is the challenge for today and for the week. Praise the King for he has come! Praise the King for he has died, so we might live.
12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!" 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, "You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him." John 12:12 -19 (ESV)
Jesus prepares for his royal entry. Jesus and his Disciples went to Bethpage, which was near Bethany (approximately 2 miles east of Jerusalem) to the Mount of Olives. A great crowd of people followed him and they were probably people taking their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. According to the historian Josephus, there was one Passover where over two million people participated in Jerusalem. We are not sure if this was the normal crowd or not, but there was certainly a large gathering of people present at this time. Once Jesus drew near the Mount of Olives he sent two disciples to go into town and get a colt and bring it to him. The Gospel of Matthew states that this all takes place to fulfill the words of the prophet Zechariah 9:9. This passage is believed to be a prophecy about the coming King of Zion or the Messiah. In the prophecy the people of Israel are told to rejoice and shout because the King is coming soon. They are called to rejoice because He is a righteous king who brings salvation. This king will be a gentle and humble king and it will be evident because he will be riding on a colt’s donkey. Jesus was the TRUE king and He could have ridden in on a war horse, instead he chose to be a King of peace and humility.
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people began shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The word Hosanna in the Greek transliteration is “Save us!” Their shouts were an exclamation of exaltation, praise, and rulership.
The praises of the people were reflected by the words of Psalm 118:25, 26. This Psalm is one of many Egyptian Hallel or praise psalms to remember God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. These Psalms were chanted, recited, and sung during Passover and other major festivals and feasts. As the people shouted they also put their cloaks and palm branches on the ground for Jesus to walk on. This was a sign of honor and the palm branches symbolized victory. According to theologian N.T. Wright, “They waved branches they’d cut from the trees to make a celebratory procession for him. This carried royal implications. In the long folk memory of Jerusalem and its surrounding villages, stories were still told, and some of them by this stage were written down, about the famous Judas Maccabaeus who, 200 years before, had arrived in Jerusalem after conquering the pagan armies that had oppressed Israel. He, too, was welcomed into the city by a crowd waving palm branches. And he was the start of a royal dynasty that lasted for over a hundred years.”
As you begin to prepare for Palm Sunday, what are some ways that you can express your praise and worship to Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life?
 Wright, N.T. (2004) Matthew For Everyone Part Two p. 67 Westminster John Knox Press
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 21:1 – 11 (ESV)
On the Christian calendar year we observe two major holy days to commemorate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are Christmas and Easter. On December 25th (although this isn’t really the day he was born) we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who came into the world as a human. We recount the Nativity story of Joseph, Mary, little baby Jesus, the star, the Magi, and the shepherds which is our background for this special day. During Christmas we rejoice that God in human flesh came as the man Jesus and dwelt among us to show us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Easter is the time of reflection of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time we are reminded of the painful and gruesome death Jesus endured to atone for our sins. It is also a time to celebrate the truth that Jesus didn’t stay dead; he rose from the grave, He is alive today and seated at the right hand of God the Father.
The time of Lent signifies the sacred 40-day preparation of the believer for the Easter season. We also observe a day one week prior to the resurrection called Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday will happen on the last day of this week. This day ushers in the time called “Holy Week.” In addition to today’s Gospel of Matthew reading about Palm Sunday, you will read for the next two days from two other Gospel accounts, one in the Gospel of John and one in the Gospel of Mark. For the remainder of this week we will look at some of these Gospel readings
so we can see and celebrate the significance of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12: 1 – 8 (ESV)
Six days before Passover, Jesus goes to Lazarus’s house. A meal is prepared, and He is anointed with a very expensive perfume by Lazarus’s sister Mary. She uses her hair to wipe his feet. We see this as an act of worship on Mary’s part. In this worship she declares the value of Christ to her. The perfume she used could have been sold for a year’s wages, so this was a very costly act of worship. Mary was declaring that there is nothing more valuable to her than Jesus.
The Disciple Judas questions the “wastefulness” of this expensive oil. He had no care for the poor, he was just a greedy thief. He tried to spiritualize his short-sightedness by stating they could have used the funds to give to the poor, but John tells us he didn’t care for the poor. This scene is applicable to us today. How often do we spiritualize what we think should be done, so we can get our own way? Sometimes people will misuse scripture or manipulate situations, so they can stop something that they don’t want to happen, and they do it under the guise of being spiritual. This is short-sighted and is far from spiritual. When this is done people are not seeing the situation with eyes of faith and worship, nor do they appreciate the value of Christ and see that he is worth the investment; instead, they promote what seems logical, sensible and reasonable as an excuse to manipulate a situation for their benefit themselves. This is what Judas was trying to do.
Jesus rebukes Judas. He tells him to leave Mary alone, because what she is doing is a good thing. He says there will always be opportunities to serve the poor and meet their needs, but what Mary is doing at this time supersedes the needs of the poor.
So, what can we learn from this passage?
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