Tuesday 30 September, 2014

Matthew 27:45-56

45 From noon until three o’clock, the whole land was covered with darkness. 46 About three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice. He said, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” This means “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” (Psalm 22:1) 47 Some of those standing there heard Jesus cry out. They said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” 48 Right away one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar and put it on a stick. He offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 After Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he died. 51 At that moment the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook. The rocks split. 52 Tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs. After Jesus was raised to life, they went into the holy city. There they appeared to many people. 54 The Roman commander and those guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened. They were terrified. They exclaimed, “He was surely the Son of God!” 55 Not very far away, many women were watching. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to take care of his needs. 56 Mary Magdalene was among them. Mary, the mother of James and Joses, was also there. So was the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Wow, in this passage I see a beautiful call and response between son and father. We see Jesus alone on the cross and bearing the weight of sin crying out to His father, “Why have you forsaken me.” The desperation and agony of the moment so overwhelming, Jesus reveals how alone and vulnerable He feels. And at first glance it seems as if God does not answer, Jesus dies with His cry lingering in the air…. But if we take a closer look we see the God who made heaven and earth, the loving Father, answering His son’s cry in turn, in an unmissable way, with the kind of volume that even the Roman soldiers could not ignore. Jesus cried out with His voice, but God responded by blocking out the light, by tearing the curtain in two, by shaking the earth and breaking rocks, by causing the dead to rise, and even causing the very Romans who had crucified Him and dismissed Him to believe in His identity… Oh yes, God the Father answers alright, His actions are loud, He has not watched His Son die without cause, He has restrained Himself for this moment, and now, He shows the world that He is in control. He has not forsaken His Son, and three days later He will restore life to Him, and set Him by His side in heaven, in triumph for all eternity. Wow.

Where in my life am I crying out – where are you God? Why don’t you seem to be present, and moving on my behalf? What encouragement I gain from this. My God answers that cry. He has heard that cry from His Son, God knows how to answer. God knew what He was doing. It is no easy thing for God to watch His children suffer, but He is not passive, He has a plan bigger than my momentary suffering. God will answer me, whether I am currently seeing it or not.

God, please help me to stir faith, I want to wait expectantly for you, even when something has died or seemingly got as bad as it can get, thank you God that you can and will move. Amen


Written by Beth Waugh

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Monday 29 September, 2014

Matthew 27:32-44

The life and ministry of Jesus came to a dramatic climax when He was crucified on the Cross at Golgotha. There were two agendas at the Cross . The high priests, the religious scholars and the people believed that this was the end of the man who had caused them so much distress and anger and whose teachings had challenged them so much. They did not realise the subtlety of their cruel insults. His teachings were true; He did come from God! He was the Son of God!

Earlier, Nicodemus had questioned Jesus about eternal life, and Jesus declared, …..”Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert – delivering salvation and healing, – so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life” [John 3:14] In John 12:34 Jesus repeated His message, “But I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself.” In a sense the cross is a crossroads for all – whether a person accepted Jesus or rejected Him there is no way a person can avoid the event. This was the meaning of the Cross for Jesus Christ.

When Jesus died on the Cross, He was declaring that death must precede life in the Kingdom of God. Paul wrote “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” [Galatians 2:20] and in Romans 6:6-8 Paul says, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him”.

Lord, we praise you for your incredible plan of salvation demonstrated when Jesus died on the Cross. We are so grateful that, on a daily basis, we experience His Presence in and through the power of the Holy Spirit. We give You all glory and honour, we celebrate your victory and we revel in Your love.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Sunday 28 September, 2014

Matthew 27:24-31

24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere. Instead, the crowd was starting to get angry. So he took water and washed his hands in front of them. “I am not guilty of this man’s death,” he said. “You are accountable for that!” 25 All the people answered, “We and our children will accept the guilt for his death!” 26 Pilate let Barabbas go free. But he had Jesus whipped. Then he handed him over to be nailed to a cross. 27 The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the palace, which was called the Praetorium. All the rest of the soldiers gathered around him. 28 They took off his clothes and put a purple robe on him. 29 Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they fell on their knees in front of him and made fun of him. “We honor you, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him. They hit him on the head with the stick again and again. 31 After they had made fun of him, they took off the robe. They put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him away to nail him to a cross.

Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. Pilate had even been warned by his wife (through a dream) not to harm Jesus. And yet Pilate listened to the crowd’s pressure to release the murderer Barabbas and unjustly sentenced Jesus to a cruel punishment and death. Pilate even tried to place the blame back on to the crowd for his cowardly actions.

Before we judge Pilate too harshly, what person can say that they have never given into the pressure of the crowd? It takes bravery and strong convictions to stand up for what you know is true in the face of strong opposition. Each one of us has probably been guilty of giving in to the “fear of man “at some point in our lives.

The best way to not give in to the fear of man, is to fear God more than you fear man. And in my experience, the fear of God grows more when I spend time in His word and meditate on how great and powerful He is.

May God continue to grow in me a healthy fear and respect for His greatness, and give me the courage to follow Him no matter what the cost.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Saturday 27 September, 2014

Matthew 27:11-23

1 Jesus was standing in front of the governor. The governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes. It is just as you say,” Jesus replied. 12 But when the chief priests and the elders brought charges against him, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the charges they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge. The governor was really amazed. 15 It was the governor’s practice at the Passover Feast to let one prisoner go free. The people could choose the one they wanted. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner named Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to set free? Barabbas? Or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 Pilate knew that the leaders were jealous. He knew this was why they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him a message. It said, “Don’t have anything to do with that man. He is not guilty. I have suffered a great deal in a dream today because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders talked the crowd into asking for Barabbas and having Jesus put to death. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to set free?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What wrong has he done?” asked Pilate. But they shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

Never before have I noticed that before Jesus was crucified there was a prelude to the ultimate substitution. In a matter of hours Jesus would be enduring the wrath of God for the sins of the world, suffering a death he did not deserve, on my behalf. Dying so that I might live.

Here we see a symbol of something far greater. A murderer, Barabbas, is released and given freedom as a good and innocent man, Jesus, is condemned to death. A disgusting, ugly and appalling exchange. How could the crowds ask for evil to be released while goodness is whipped and suffocated.

I insert my name in for Barabbas. Suddenly it is the most beautiful exchange ever conceived.

“Lord, you made a beautiful exchange for me, a murderer, adulterer, thief. Let your wonderful resurrection life be revealed in this redeemed heart, mind and body”.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Friday 26 September, 2014

Matthew 27:1-10

27 It was early in the morning. All the chief priests and the elders of the people decided to put Jesus to death. 2 They tied him up and led him away. Then they handed him over to Pilate, who was the governor. 3 Judas, who had handed him over, saw that Jesus had been sentenced to die. He felt deep shame and sadness for what he had done. So he returned the 30 silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said. “I handed over a man who is not guilty.” “What do we care?” they replied. “That’s your problem.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests picked up the coins. They said, “It’s against the law to put this money into the temple fund. It is blood money. It has paid for a man’s death.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy a potter’s field. People from other countries would be buried there. 8 That is why it has been called The Field of Blood to this very day. 9 Then the words spoken by Jeremiah the prophet came true. He had said, “They took the 30 silver coins. That price was set for him by the people of Israel. 10 They used the coins to buy a potter’s field, just as the Lord commanded me.” (Zechariah 11:12,13; Jeremiah 19:1–13; 32:6–9)

This is tragic.

I have no idea what Judas had expected would happen when he betrayed Jesus or why he took the money. But now he sees Jesus condemned he wants to undo it. But it can’t be undone. Jesus dies because of Judas’ sin.

But he died just as much because of my sin. My sin can’t be undone either. So Jesus took spiritual consequences of my sin (death) from me onto himself. But Judas does things the other way around: he embraces the death he brought on Jesus.

(There can be physical consequences too which damage me or, worse, damage others. The world and I both need His healing too.)

I find the response of the priests equally tragic: so concerned about the wrongness of taking the blood money back into the temple treasury, yet oblivious to the wrongness of buying the death of an innocent man (let alone the unfathomable wrongness of putting the Son of God to death).

Yet out of all this wrongness God brings the most wonderful act of rightness.

This is wonderful!

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 25 September, 2014

Matthew 26:69-75

69 Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. A female servant came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But in front of all of them, Peter said he was not. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gate leading into the courtyard. There another woman saw him. She said to the people, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 Again he said he was not. With an oath he said, “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter. “You must be one of them,” they said. “The way you talk gives you away.” 74 Then Peter began to call down curses on himself. He took an oath and said to them, “I don’t know the man!” Right away a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said. “The rooster will crow,” Jesus had told him. “Before it does, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Peter went outside. He broke down and sobbed.

How powerful is fear. I’ve tried to imagine what it would have been like to be in that courtyard. Lurking in the shadows – hopeful of seeing Jesus set free or at least finding something out. Waiting is the hardest thing to do when you don’t know what the outcome will be. When I’m scared it’s hard to stay true to my preferred responses – which means – when I’m scared I say and do things I wish I hadn’t. I would like to think that if I had been in Peter’s shoes (or sandals) I would have been different – but I know from personal experience, when things are out of control – that I don’t always choose faith over fear.

But just like Peter – how well Jesus knows me. When I buckle, He is not surprised. When I buckle again – He is still not surprised. Again – still not surprised. I may be gutted, but life goes on – just as it did for Peter.

God – you are amazingly patient with me. I want to choose faith over fear. I want to believe what You say and do what You ask even when I have no idea how things are going to turn out. Help me walk by faith – in the good plans You have for me, not in fear of what I cannot see or do not know.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Wednesday 24 September, 2014

Matthew 26:57-68

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest. The teachers of the law and the elders had come together there. 58 Not too far away, Peter followed Jesus. He went right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see what would happen. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for something to use against Jesus. They wanted to put him to death. 60 But they did not find any proof, even though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two other witnesses came forward. 61 They said, “This fellow claimed, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God. I can build it again in three days.’” 62 Then the high priest stood up. He asked Jesus, “Aren’t you going to answer? What are these charges that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I command you under oath by the living God. Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64 “Yes. It is just as you say,” Jesus replied. “But here is what I say to all of you. In days to come, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One. You will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes. He said, “He has spoken a very evil thing against God! Why do we need any more witnesses? You have heard him say this evil thing. 66 What do you think?” “He must die!” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face. They hit him with their fists. Others slapped him. 68 They said, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who hit you?”

Gosh Jesus ended up in a place where there was nothing He could say that was going to help His situation. Whatever He said the high priests were going to twist it to make Him sound guilty. So He limited what He said and He didn’t really try and defend Himself. He was in the place God needed Him to be and He was willing to be there.

How about us? What can I learn from how Jesus handled this situation? Sometimes we will find ourselves in difficult situations even though they are the right situations, the place where God would have us be. Jesus is with us in those times and He can help us when we feel under attack.

Help me Lord to get a clear picture of what you would have me do. And then help me to stick with it even during hard times. Help me to have confidence in You and what You have asked me to do – that You have a plan even when it doesn’t look like it.

Written by Therese Manning

2 replies
  1. Richard Botta says:

    Jesus’ silence is powerful. He doesn’t dignify what was an illegal trial with responses until His identity, as Messiah, was challenged. The Jews were looking for Messiah. Here He was but they did not recognize Him. Jesus’ self proclamation was not acceoted. It intrigues me how they had expected to recognize Messiah, which Jesus clearly did not fit. A political powerhouse is the common answer, one who would lead Israel from the oppression of the Romans.
    Jesus’ was leading to another drum beat. His was the beat of the Kingdom and the implications were therefore quite different. So the questions being asked did not need an answer until the question of His Messiahship.
    So when do i need to keep silent in the face of accusation and for what reason(s) should i speak up?
    Father give me wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent in the face of accusation.

  2. Rachel Tomc says:

    Matthew 26: 57- 68

    – it’s not always easy to follow Jesus, there will be people who will judge us and want to protest against us
    – it can be hard to stand firm in faith when others around you think otherwise

    – I need to learn to always stay true to what I believe and help those around me who may be unsure or are being pulled down

    Help me lord to know your word better and to continue to become more confident in you, and help me to not let others persuade my opinions of the relationship and the knowledge I have of you

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Tuesday 23 September, 2014

Matthew 26:47-56

47 While Jesus was still speaking, Judas arrived. He was one of the Twelve. A large crowd was with him. They were carrying swords and clubs. The chief priests and the elders of the people had sent them. 48 Judas, who was going to hand Jesus over, had arranged a signal with them. “The one I kiss is the man,” he said. “Arrest him.” 49 So Judas went to Jesus at once. He said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then the men stepped forward. They grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 At that moment, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword. He pulled it out and struck the servant of the high priest with it. He cut off the servant’s ear. 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him. “All who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I can’t ask my Father for help? He would send an army of more than 70,000 angels right away. 54 But then how would the Scriptures come true? They say it must happen in this way.” 55 At that time Jesus spoke to the crowd. “Am I leading a band of armed men against you?” he asked. “Do you have to come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courtyard teaching. And you didn’t arrest me. 56 But all this has happened so that the words of the prophets would come true.” Then all the disciples left him and ran away.

This passage, read many times before, has made me stop and think about the clash of emotions going on here. The intimacy of a friends’ greeting – Jesus & Judas eye to eye & then betrayal. Anger & aggression as a slave looses his ear (Jesus’ compassion in Luke’s gospel healing the slave Lk 22:51). The power and supremacy of the arrestors – and Jesus calm yet assertive responses and his surrender to the fulfillment of scripture. What a hectic few minutes and lastly, fear as all the disciples desert.

Clubs and swords, aggression and fear – no one really knew how to respond in all of this except for Jesus. He had just spent a considerable time in prayer in the presence of the Father. What an amazing difference this made to Him, knowing from the scriptures – God’s Word – how to respond and walk His life as this hectic moment unfolded. Jesus is showing me how to walk through the things that are overwhelming to me at the moment. Prayer and staying in God’s word, staying in His presence.

Father, thank you for the amazing example of Jesus, that when I don’t know how to respond I can look to His example to me … spend time praying and spend time in your Word … spend time with You!

Written by Suzie Hodgson

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    I never thought of this moment in history as a ‘teachable moment’ but there is definitely lessons to learn!
    Thanks Suzie

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Monday 22 September, 2014

Matthew 26:36-46

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him. He began to be sad and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sad. I feel close to death. Stay here. Keep watch with me.” 39 He went a little farther. Then he fell with his face to the ground. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray. Then you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing. But the body is weak.” 42 Jesus went away a second time. He prayed, “My Father, is it possible for this cup to be taken away? But if I must drink it, may what you want be done.” 43 Then he came back. Again he found them sleeping. They couldn’t keep their eyes open. 44 So he left them and went away once more. For the third time he prayed the same thing. 45 Then he returned to the disciples. He said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour is near. The Son of Man is about to be handed over to sinners. 46 Get up! Let us go! Here comes the one who is handing me over to them!”

Jesus time of suffering is imminent, his betrayer Judas waits in the garden. Jesus tells his friends his soul is crushed with grief to the point of death, and he asks them to pray vigilantly over him. He desperately needs them in his human agony. But they fall asleep after their meal and the lateness of the night. Three times Jesus returns to them, I imagine his disappointment and hurt. I imagine the disciples’ shame and regret.  Despite their failings, and ours, Jesus knows that “this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it” v.42.  Humanity could not be saved from the cup of suffering if Jesus did not drink from it that weekend.  He went through with His promise and fulfilled His destiny.  And I am so grateful and so undeserving.
This passage is so poignant, it speaks to the part of me that knows I would have slept too. That I have slept through times when I could have been praying for someone in distress. That Jesus has been in the background of my days.
Heavenly Father please help me to watch and pray, to help ease the cup of suffering for my brothers and sisters. Amen

Written by Dimity Milne

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Sunday 21 September, 2014

Matthew 26:26-35

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread. He gave thanks and broke it. He handed it to his disciples and said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup. He gave thanks and handed it to them. He said, “All of you drink from it. 28 This is my blood of the new covenant. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many. 29 Here is what I tell you. From now on, I won’t drink wine with you again until the day I drink it with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Jesus told them, “This very night you will all turn away because of me. It is written that the Lord said, “‘I will strike the shepherd down. Then the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (Zechariah 13:7) 32 But after I rise from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 33 Peter replied, “All the others may turn away because of you. But I never will.” 34 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” Jesus answered. “It will happen this very night. Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” 35 But Peter said, “I may have to die with you. But I will never say I don’t know you.” And all the other disciples said the same thing.

I often wonder what the disciples thought of some of the things – well most really – that Jesus said to them at the time. The old covenant had been with them a 1,000 years and now Jesus speaks of a ‘new’ covenant and it will be with His blood. He also tells them He is going to be raised up & will go ahead to Galilee. I can’t imagine that they understood the significance of His words at all. It was only hindsight that enabled them to fully grasp the simplicity & profoundness of what Jesus had just said.

I’m challenged by Peter’s statement too – ‘I’ll never say I don’t know you’ – he was completely honest, sincere & utterly meant every word – his heart was with Jesus all the way, yet the follow through was a little different.

Jesus did & lived everything He said He would. How am I going with that? I have made statements, commitments, sincerely & wholeheartedly and yet my follow through has also been like Peter’s. Time has not eroded Jesus’ words, I can completely trust them, I am forgiven because His blood was poured out for me.

Lord Jesus, thank you.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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