Happy Easter to you this Resurrection Sunday morning! Scripture tells us that the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and encountered 2 angels. The angels said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while was still with you in Galilee. The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:5b-8 Then Mary encountered Jesus himself in the garden while she was weeping. Jesus said to her, “Mary” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” John 20:16 Then she ran to tell the disciples filled with great joy as Jesus was Alive!
I pray that you will encounter the Risen Lord Jesus this Resurrection Sunday and experience great JOY in worshiping Him! Here is a description of our future because of what Jesus did for us at the cross and through His resurrection. Praise you Jesus!
10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. 11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere. Isaiah 61:10-11
Because Christ died on the cross and roes from the dead, I am redeemed and clothed in His righteousness forever! Thank you Jesus!
Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb by his friend Joseph of Arimathea. Scripture gives us some hints as to what Jesus was doing between the time of his burial and resurrection. There is a lot of debate by scholars on the subject, but it is agreed that Jesus was in Hades preaching and teaching. Ephesians 4:8-10 speaks of Jesus descending and leading captives as he ascended into heaven. 1 Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to spirits in prison. We can be assured that he was not in the tomb waiting around but doing God’s Work.
Why is scripture basically silent on this period of time? Probably because it is of little importance to us as believers. The gospel essence is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. His power over death is so miraculous and life giving that our focus needs to be on our redemption and His victory. We also know that Jesus was always about His Father’s business. “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I , too, am working.” John 5:17 God always has a purpose and a plan, and Jesus was always doing the Father’s work. So on this silent day we can ask ourselves, Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I using the time God has given me to pray, study, witness and do good things for others? Quietly think about God today as you prepare for Resurrection Sunday. Know for sure the truth of Isaiah’s ancient words: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can wait upon Him with assurance and hope knowing my future is secure and all His plans are for my good and His glory!
After His arrest Thursday night, Jesus endured 4 trials. He went before the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, then Pilate who sent him to Herod, the Jewish head of state, then back to Pilate. The Jews wanted Jesus killed but they did not have the authority to execute Him. They demanded that Pilate, the Roman authority in Palestine, crucify Him. Pilate had Jesus flogged and beaten even though Pilate knew Jesus to be innocent. He had hoped this cruel treatment would pacify the Jews. However, the crowds pressed him and requested the release of the criminal Barabbas instead of Jesus since it was the custom to release one convicted person as a token of goodwill at the Jewish Passover. The crowds demanded that Jesus be crucified and Pilate agreed to appease the angry and vocal Jewish crowds. Jesus was then made to carry His own cross to the place of execution, Golgotha. Along the way Jesus stumbled and Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to carry the cross. Jesus was then nailed to a cross and hung to die. His clothes were stripped from Him and as He hung naked on the cross then soldiers gambled for his clothing underneath the cross.
I can not imagine the pain, anguish, humiliation and shame Jesus endured on my behalf. He took all the sins of the world, yours and mine, upon His pure, sinless and innocent body and the sin took him to a place he had never been before. The sins He took upon himself, our sins, separated him from God, His holy Father. He did this so that His sacrifice could atone for our sins. 1 Peter 2:24explains what Jesus accomplished for you and me.
24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. (NLT)
I never realized how sweet Jesus’ final words from the cross were until recently. “‘It is finished.’ With that, he lowered his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:30 He declared with His final breath that the work of redemption was complete, and He had accomplished what the Father had sent Him to do. Through His death He took the punishment, death, for the sins of all who would believe for all eternity with His blood. Having accomplished His work, He gave up His spirit. His life was not taken from Him, but He gave it up voluntarily at the time of His choosing. Only God can choose the time of His death. When we speak of someone dying, we say the person has life take from them. We don’t get to chose the hour or minute of our last breath, but Jesus chose when and where He was to die for you and me. I am staggered by His love and sacrifice that He would endure such punishment and isolation from God on my behalf. As you ponder the cross today, think of all Jesus gave up and all He did on your behalf.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I live redeemed from the penalty of sin, covered by His incredible sacrifice and will be able to stand before God sinless.
Prayer: Father, the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice and your love in sending Him to die for my sin is incomprehensible. ‘Your ways and not my ways’ Isaiah reminds us in Isaiah 55:8. I am so thankful for your plan of redemption and stand humbly before you because of Jesus, my Savior. Praising you in Jesus name, Amen.
As Jesus’ time on earth draws to a close, His Thursday was filled with love, encouragement, heartbreak and pain. As Jesus celebrated the Passover supper with His disciples in the Upper Room, Judas was dismissed as he had already decided in his heart to betray Jesus. Then Jesus spent precious hours teaching, reassuring and praying for His disciples. Later they went to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and gained strength from His Father. The soldiers came into the garden to arrest Jesus, and he was betrayed by Judas. They led him away to be tried in numerous trials both civilian and religious. He was beaten, flogged, insulted and denied by Peter.
During all this time, Jesus was focused on doing the will of the Father and completing His mission on earth, the redemption of mankind. I am touched when I consider His prayer in the Upper Room as recorded in John 17: 20-23 as he was thinking of me and you and not the ordeal he was facing.
I’m praying not only for them But also for those who will believe in me Because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, So they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me. (Message)
I was amazed that Jesus took time to pray for His mission, His disciples and All future believers that night in the Upper Room. He wanted all future believers to be unified in faith so we can tell others that Jesus was and is real and was sent by the Father. He says that the unity of our faith and oneness with Christ will give evidence to the unbelieving world that God loves us and truly sent His Son to redeem us. This unity was so important to our Lord and Savior that He interceded for us. Jesus wants us to be one in Spirit, united, telling others about Him.
What difference does it make that Jesus spend time on the last night before his crucifixion praying for you? When you are with other believers do you strive for the unity Christ desired or are you seeking to divide and cause unrest in matters of faith with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you about the sharing of your faith with others by showing kindness, love and speaking of the hope you have in Jesus? Today, think of Jesus and what He desires for all believers. Strive to walk in unity. He promises it will show the world that we believe in Him and God’s love.
Prayer: Father, I am humbled and amazed that Jesus prayed for me on His last night on earth. He loved me so much and wanted me to be one in faith and unified in spirit with all believers. Help me to live today with an abiding faith in You so that the people I meet will know that I love You and that You love me. Empower me to show your love to others so that you may be glorified in all I say and do. Amen.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can be unified with other believers in Jesus’ name and share in His love.
It would seem that the gospel’s are silent on the whereabouts of Jesus on this day of Holy Week. Perhaps he remained in Bethany with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, taking a needed day of rest. Tomorrow will be a trying day with the Last Supper, Gethsemane, His arrest, beating and trials by night leading to crucifixion on Friday. Jesus knew what was coming and how his human body would need strength for tomorrow so He rested. Even though He was God, He felt all the pain and fatigue of a man when He was within His earthly body. So He needed rest today.
What do you need today? Here are a couple of scriptures for you to mediate on to encourage and strengthen you. David knew his need for the Lord and relied upon Him each day.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. 8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Psalm 138:7-8a
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Psalm 37:3-6
Jesus knew the Psalms of King David and perhaps He drew strength and comfort from these words too. He knew God had a purpose for him to complete and that He needed to trust His heavenly Father and rest in Him. Let David’s words bring you peace and rest today as you walk trusting in Jesus..
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can call upon Him for strength and rest in His ability to give me all that I need.
Bible scholars attribute many happenings to the Tuesday of Holy Week. Jesus was questioned by the religious leaders as to by what authority was He speaking and performing miracles. Jesus cleverly trapped them with their own questions, and they left him alone. (Matthew 21:23-27) After that confrontation, Jesus proceeded to teach in parables about the tenants who killed the messengers sent by the master, then about the wedding banquet where those invited refused to come and then strangers were welcomed in their place. Both of these pointed to the treatment of Jesus, God’s Son, by the religious leaders and Jews of His day. Jesus also taught about taxes and where we owe our allegiance. He spoke about marriage in heaven and who He really was. (Matthew 21:28-23:39) Later in the evening, Jesus ate at the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There Mary anointed Jesus with pure nard, a very expensive perfume, and the disciples were upset at her for using this costly perfume on Jesus. (Matthew 26:6-12) From morning until night, Jesus used every minute to instruct and build up the faith of His followers as He knew His time was short.
During this day, one of Jesus’ most important teachings was revealed when the Jewish leaders asked Jesus what was the most important commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
This statement about the right priorities for our lives is so simply stated, and yet is so difficult to live out on a daily basis. Putting God first in our lives will keep everything else in balance and then loving others with as much love as we love ourselves comes next. Do you love yourself? Do you take care with what you put into your body, soul and mind? Jesus tells us that He expects us to love and respect ourselves. Out of that love for God will flow and be poured into those around us. Think about your priorities today and the fact that Jesus spent time His last week on earth telling us how to align our lives in the most productive way for ourselves and others.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have His Holy Spirit’s indwelling power that enables me to keep my priorities in line with Him. Putting God first then yourself and others is God’s way. Thankfully, He is able to see this work to completion as promised in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He also promised help in Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Praise God! He wants us to show His love to others and will enable us to do so in His time and His way.
Bible Commentaries give two specific events that Jesus was involved in on Monday before His crucifixion of what is now known as Holy Week. Jesus entered the city humbly and triumphantly on Sunday and then cleansed the temple area of money changers and withered a fig tree. Both actions seem harsh, but they give a picture of the worldly opposition to God’s kingdom. From both we get a glimpse of divine justice. You can read the accounts in Matthew 21 and Mark 11.
Jerusalem at Passover was a bustling city with many thousands of pilgrims arriving to make offerings at the temple. They needed to purchase animals for sacrifice and change money so they could pay the yearly temple tax. The exchanges were all being conducted in the outer court of the Gentiles. Here is Matthew’s account from21:12-14.
12-14 Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:
My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves.
Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them. (Message)
Jesus was then, is now and will be in eternity the Righteous Judge. He saw the true motives of the people desiring to make money exorbitantly and uprooted and cast them out literally. He placed a priority on prayer and worship when coming to God’s house. He got right to the work of His ministry, healing and allowing access to God for everyone.
As we near the cross, take heart from this short snippet in Jesus’ last week. Know that He came to save and set right relationships and motives towards God. What attitudes do you need adjusted by Jesus today? Do you attend church to make ‘connections’ with people for business or do you come to pray and reflect on your walk with Jesus? Looking at the heart is what Jesus did then and does now in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Let Him cleanse your heart today and put you on the right pathway with right motives. May our hearts be right with God today as suggested in this quote by Charles Wesley “Make My Heart a House of Prayer”.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, God is accessible to me through prayer and I can trust in His righteousness. I can claim the truths of Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Thank you Jesus for making yourself accessible through prayer, your unsurpassed peace for my heart, and for your redemptive sacrifice.
All 4 of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and work record his entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before their Jewish Passover. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of how Jesus obtained the donkey upon which He entered as it was prophesied that Messiah, king, would come riding a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 was written hundreds of years before the event “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! your king comes to you gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the fold of a donkey.” John was the only writer to mention the palm branches that were waved by the crowds as Jesus humbly rode into the city. “So the 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!’” John 12:13 The waving of the palm branches signifies a celebration of victory, and was a reminder of Jesus’ royalty. The only other place that palm branches are waved is in Revelation 7 where John records the following scene in heaven. 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
As you worship Jesus today, cry out in praise to Him for who He is- our mighty King and Savior. He is and always will be the victor now and forever! Raise your palm fronds high in praise to your savior and proclaim Him the one who came to save you and me. He was indeed the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world!
Here are the final truths from our study of Colossians 3:12-4:18this week. May they bless you anew as you read and meditate upon them.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead,
I am enabled to live for Christ showing character that is humble, gentle, patient, compassionate, forgiving, loving and united with others.Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
I can experience profound thankfulness as I learn to hold tightly to the peace of God, the Word of God and trust in His development of my character to be more and more like Jesus.Colossians 3:15-17 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I am called to live for Christ by giving my best in all I say and do.Colossians 3:18-25 ” Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master.19 Husbands, go all out in love for your wives. Don’t take advantage of them.20 Children, do what your parents tell you. This delights the Master no end.21 Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.22-25 Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”
I am commissioned to pray diligently, speak boldly with softness and proclaim Christ to the unbelieving world.Colossians 4:2-6 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
I can continue in relationship with fellow believers from now to eternity bringing encouragement and hope as I focus on Christ.Colossians 4:7-15 “Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here. 10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been! 12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
I have good work to do for Jesus that includes telling others about Him, praying for fellow believers and being the genuine person God created me to be in Christ.Colossians 4:16-18“And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
As Paul ends this letter to the Colossian Christians, he reminded them and us of 3 important things about ministry.
Colossians 4:16-18 “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.“
Paul wanted them to share his letter that was filled with godly instructions for right living in Christ with others in their area. We too are to stand on the Word of God and share it with those around us. How peppered is your speech with God’s Word? Do you relate happenings, people, goals and desires in the light of God’s Word? Do you read scripture with others or tell them of passages you have read that were meaningful? God’s Word is meant to be shared and checked in on. Paul and Barnabas did this in Acts15:35-36 “But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” They ended up taking other people with them and going separate ways, but their intent was to go and check on others to whom they had shared the gospel. God intends that His Word be a guiding light in our lives and it is to be SHARED!
Paul also wantedArchippus to continue in his good work for the Lord. Paul knew that serving the Lord required faith and perseverance. Thankfully, God promises that He will see to completion the work He has begun in us. We just need to cling faithfully with Him and continue working for Him. Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it tocompletion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Are you doubting the work God has called you to do? Pray about it and remain faithful until He leads you out or gives you peace about where you currently are serving. God knows the timing and details so we need to walk in trust day by day looking to His leading.
Lastly, Paul reminds us of who we are in Christ. We are genuine, authentic believers in the risen Lord. We are precious to Him and need to remember each other and uplift one another daily. Paul’s signature made the letter authentic but it was God’s message that was included gave it worth both then and now.
Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have good work to do for Jesus that includes telling others about Jesus, praying for fellow believers and being the genuine person God created me to be in Christ.
Paul finished his letter with final heartfelt greetings to specific people in the church at Colossae. Colossians 4:7-15
“Tychicus will give you a full report about how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper who serves with me in the Lord’s work. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you. 9 I am also sending Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, one of your own people. He and Tychicus will tell you everything that’s happening here.
10 Aristarchus, who is in prison with me, sends you his greetings, and so does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin. As you were instructed before, make Mark welcome if he comes your way. 11 Jesus (the one we call Justus) also sends his greetings. These are the only Jewish believers among my co-workers; they are working with me here for the Kingdom of God. And what a comfort they have been!
12 Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. 13 I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis.
14 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas. 15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.“
What can we glean from these verses? First, Paul wanted to reassure the Colossian Christians that he was doing fine and to be encouraged by his words of testimony that will be passed on by Tychicus and Onesimus. When you send cards, emails or calls to friends do you tell them how you are spiritually to encourage them? Do you tell them how God has blessed you, led you, answered prayer, and is revealing Himself to you in new ways? Paul is encouraging us to relate not only our well being physically but spiritually too.
Next, Paul explains fellow workers with him in the cause of Christ that are sending greetings. Isn’t that natural to tell others about people they know and what is happening with them? Here Paul is saying they have been a great comfort to him personally and are growing spiritually more mature in their walk with the Lord. What kind of things do you tell others about mutual friends? Are they uplifting and centered on their kindness or do they tend more towards gossip?
Then, Paul mentions praying Epaphras. Wow! He is known as one who upholds others in consistent prayers. He is genuinely concerned about their growth, witness and steadfastness in Christ. Do you have friends that pray for you and your personal growth? Do you pray for others in this way? If not, why not?
Lastly, Paul remembers Luke, the author and traveler for Acts and the gospel of Luke. Luke and Demas know many of them and wish to greet them again to renew that relationship. Is there someone you’ve served with in ministry that you need to renew the contact? Is there a friend or neighbor you’ve been missing and need to reconnect with? Now is the time.
Paul did not say good-bye but hello from many. He wanted them to know they were loved and cherished by many even there in far away Colossae. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can continue in relationship with fellow believers from now to eternity bringing encouragement and hope as we focus on Christ.