Archives For March 2013

Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 8: Easter Sunday, March 31
The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10)

They held him by the feet, Scripture says, of the faithful women who first came to the tomb after the Sabbath to tend the body of Jesus. Finding him alive, as the angel on duty had announced, they fell at his feet, those feet still bloodied, still pierced by the great nails from the cross.

In moments, the reality of Jesus’ resurrection from death would take over, and there would be much running and telling, weeping and fearing, hugging and shouting, doubting and cheering.

But for this moment, they held on.

Lord, rekindle in us the sheer joy of finding you alive this morning and every morning. May we always be moved by the sight of your pierced feet and hold tightly to you.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

 

Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 7: Saturday, March 30
Waiting (Matthew 27:62-66; Hebrews 10:11-14)

This is a universal truth: no one likes waiting. And yet, in Passion Week, Saturday is for waiting. Little is said of the events of the day, other than the conspiracies of religious leaders to keep their victim under wraps and their deed from coming undone. We can see the guards posted to their first shifts outside the tomb, but we are left to wonder about the disciples in fearful hiding. Robbed of their master’s funeral by sunset and Sabbath obligation, it’s a long wait. As long as the time any of us experience between the death of a loved one and the final goodbye. Long, immeasurable hours in grief.

Yet, for Jesus, there is relief. Like the temple priest after a long day at the butcher block, our High Priest sat down. At the right hand of God, resting in his mission accomplished on our behalf, he is waiting…to prop up his feet.

Lord, help us to wait. While we do, build in us anticipation as again we celebrate your breaking open the tomb and emerging from the darkness, radiant.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

 

Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 6: Good Friday, March 29
The Crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-54)

For the first moment in all eternity, Jesus finds himself alone. He has enjoyed the community of his Father and the Holy Spirit always. But here, after six hours being tortured to death for our sin, Jesus feels fully how sin separates defiled humans from the holy God. Darkness covers the bald hillside of his execution, and he cries out, Why have you forsaken me?

His words, mistaken for a plea to Elijah, are actually the first verse of Psalm 22. With these few words, Jesus invokes the entire Psalm whose 31 verses perfectly describe his death: “I am poured out like water…They pierced my hands and my feet…for my clothing they cast lots.”

At Calvary, Jesus, alone, bears our sins. Until our sins kill him.

Father, we would be alone to die for our sins, were it not for the self-sacrifice of your Son, Jesus. Thank you that because of his death in our place, you are not forced to turn away from us.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

 

Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 5: Maundy Thursday, March 28
The long road home (Matthew 26:36-46)

So many things happened this day and night: Jesus reinterprets the Passover meal, declaring the bread his body and the wine his blood. He gives lengthy instruction to his followers on how to carry on his ministry (John 14-17). Jesus is picked from a line-up of a dozen men by a kiss from a friend. He is betrayed, tried, convicted, denied (Matt. 26:47-75).

But it is in the olive press of Gethsemane that we see Jesus, the Man, crushed. The weight of the sin of all people of all time would soon be laid on him. That he who had never sinned would become sin seems more than one man could bear. Even a perfect God-man.

And in the darkness of the garden he asked, Must I?

What would compel him to bear the unbearable? Duty? Demand? No. It is Love.

And from the ground at Gethsemane Jesus would stand and begin his determined journey up the Road of Suffering to Golgotha – taking us with him.

Lord, help us watch and pray and accept your will. Thank you for Jesus’ journey on our behalf that ultimately takes us home. 

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

 

Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 4: Silent Wednesday, March 27
Time for contemplation (Matthew 24:1-14, 36-44)

What were the disciples doing at mid-week? This day is noteworthy for the absence of events assigned to it by Scripture. But after Jesus’ bold prophecies the day before, the disciples must have been asking themselves why their teacher was talking about the destruction of the temple and the end of the world.

His end-times sermon on Olive mountain was framed with memorable illustrations:  the greening fig tree, the procrastinating butler, the silly bridesmaids, and the fortune stuffed in the mattress.

But nestled among these parables were the reasons for his lessons on urgency: every people will hear the Gospel (v. 14) and then the Lord will return (v. 42).

Would the disciples live accordingly? Will we?

Lord, help us share the Gospel before time runs out. We want our neighbors and family – and ourselves – to be ready for your return.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

 

Step by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

EasterDay 3: Tuesday, March 26
The confrontations (Matthew 21:23-32, 22:34-46; 26:6-16)

The Tuesday accounts read like a boxing match: The elders question his authority; Jesus tells them harlots will enter the kingdom before unbelieving religious leaders.

The priests and lawyers try to trip him up with trick questions; Jesus confounds them with amazing answers.

Ultimately, he silences the tricksters. The match goes to Jesus. But the confrontations leave Jesus weeping over the sorry spiritual state of the city where Israel should meet and worship God (Matt. 23:27).

Later Jesus pulls his disciples aside for deep teaching on the end times. And from the Mount of Olives they retreat at evening to Bethany, where a woman causes a squabble when she anoints Jesus for his burial. “Love the Lord your God with all…” he taught earlier that day, and she did.

Having seen her offering, Judas made a different – and fatal – choice.

Lord, at various times we behave like all the people you encountered. Prevent us from argumentative debate and traitorous bargaining. We want to give you our very best.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson

EasterStep by Step: Following Jesus from the Palms Parade to the Resurrection

Day 2: Monday, March 24
Spring cleaning (Matthew 21:12-22)

Jesus created such a commotion that every pilgrim in Jerusalem must have been talking about it. Who would disrupt the holy transactions? Weren’t the bank tellers swapping Caesar’s money for acceptable temple coins to give their offerings? Weren’t the sellers offering animals for sacrifice? “We couldn’t come all this way with lambs under our arms?” some travelers might mutter.

“Who does he think he is!” the tongues likely wagged.

After the ruckus, Jesus and the disciples overnighted a few miles away in Bethany, possibly at home of the resurrected Lazarus.

Returning to Jerusalem the next day, Jesus cursed the fig tree. At first it seems unfair to the tree, but this action says it all: even good things become bad when they are unfruitful. Rituals are offensive when they replace the faith they are intended to aid. Anything that robs God of worship must be driven out.

Lord, we all could use some spring cleaning now. Examine me, Lord, and wipe away anything that prevents me from worshiping you.

Devotion by Eric Reed, artwork by Kerry Jackson