Sunday 21 October, 2018

Matthew 28:1-10

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Probably the most important event in all human history is Jesus’ crucifixion and death on a cross. It is a pivotal moment from which the salvation for humankind flowed from, however it is meaningless without three simple words ‘HE HAS RISEN’.

‘HE HAS RISEN’ changed great sadness into great joy.

‘HE HAS RISEN’ confirmed all of Jesus’ words as true.

‘HE HAS RISEN’ is the reason for great hope for the future.

‘HE HAS RISEN’ signifies Jesus’ victory over death itself.

‘HE HAS RISEN’ means we will also rise from the dead.

‘HE HAS RISEN’ is why we worship God.

And yet even after he rose from the dead he still chose to call the disciples ‘brothers’.

So, today, no matter how tough life maybe it does not change the fact that ‘HE HAS RISEN’ and He chooses to call you ‘family’.

Lord, help us today, to see clearly this truth so we can put aside life’s worries and worship you with great joy.

Written by David Newton

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Saturday 20 October, 2018

Matthew 27:62-66

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

It makes sense to me that those who opposed the ministry of Jesus would want to ensure that Jesus’ disciples did not manage to pull off a hoax resurrection by making his body ‘disappear’. 

 What is ironic is that Jesus’ disciples did not even understand Jesus when he talked of rising from the dead – they had lost all hope with Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. 

 No one was ready for the power of God. 

 I have experienced God’s resurrection power in my life and my life has been radically changed. I am no longer a slave to sin and I am blessed with the presence and direction of the Holy Spirit daily. 

 Lord, every single day, lift my hope to the heights of the God of the resurrection!

 Written by Andrew Mellor

 

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Friday 19 October, 2018

Matthew 27:57-61

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

Joseph and the two Marys are peripheral characters in the gospels, but they play incredibly important roles.

Because Joseph cared for and honoured Jesus’ body by placing it in his own tomb, we know for certain that he really did die. Our sins were completely paid for.

Because of the two Marys faithfully following Jesus, and watching, and Mary Magdalene coming back to the tomb early on the Sunday, we know for certain that Jesus rose from the dead. Death has been completely defeated.

It was Joseph who took a huge risk in going to Pilate and asking for Jesus’ body when Jesus disciples ran away. It was Mary Magdalene who went looking for Jesus when the disciples were hiding. She is the one who alerted them that Jesus was no longer in his grave. It was to her that the risen Jesus first showed himself.

None of them knew the significance of what they were doing. But because of them, we have certainty about the most significant event in history.

Jesus, I want to honour you like Joseph. I want to follow you like the two Marys. I want to be faithful to you like they were. Take my small acts of faithfulness and use them in the truly significant things that you are doing.

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 18 October, 2018

Matthew 27:45-56

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the 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’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” 55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

“My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?” (v46)

To me, these are the most heart wrenching words in the whole bible. Coming from Jesus himself. Words that signify when all hope is gone. Yet Jesus chose to walk this path – to die on the Cross – for us. In this moment, Jesus, the Son of God, became most like us: separated from God because of sin. By doing so, he now identified with us and understood what it was like to be separated from the Father. His extreme suffering resulted in his death.

How could he willingly choose such a thing?

I believe Jesus was able to walk through the hardest and darkest part of his life because he entrusted himself to his Father’s care (1 Peter 2:23). For me, when things don’t make sense or don’t work out as I hoped, or when hardship or tragedy happen, Jesus is my greatest example. He entrusted his whole life to his Father. Every. Single. Part.

Jesus knew that his work was now done. But it was not the end. Jesus fully relied on his Father to do his part – the resurrection part! I can learn to do the same.

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross in my place and showing me that I can trust our Heavenly Father. Because of You I know that tragedy is not the end, resurrection is! You are the Resurrection and the Life. With all my heart, I thank you.

Written by Gab Martin

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Wednesday 17 October, 2018

Matthew 27:32-44

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews. 38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

In verse 33 it says they took Jesus to Golgotha and crucified him there. The writer notes that Golgotha means ‘the place of the skull’ or other translations describe it as ‘skull hill’.

Skulls are not generally considered attractive in western culture, they are more often viewed as ugly or symbols of death, decay and fear. Yet Jesus’ sacrificial death transformed this place from a place of ugliness, death, decay and fear to a place of boundless love and beauty.

Thank you God that you are in the habit of transforming places of ugliness, death, decay and fear into places of beauty, love and wholeness. Thank you that what Jesus accomplished on the cross is more than enough to reach into the places of ugliness, decay, death and fear in me, and bring about beauty, love, wholeness and life. God, please continue to re-write my story and help me to share this good news with others. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Tuesday 16 October, 2018

Matthew 27:27-31

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The seat of worldly power at the time of Christ was the Roman government, and the effectors of that power were the roman soldiers.

Here in this story, we see Christ, an innocent man, an integrous leader, a kind teacher, and the Son of God who has every intention of giving the greatest gift of love that humanity has ever seen. We see him being beaten, mocked, dressed in mock symbols of leadership and then spat upon and derided before being beaten again.

Worldly authority is a dangerous tool in the hands of any person. Any power or authority that I wield, must fall under the authority of the Lord of Lords, otherwise I risk being like these Roman soldiers. If I sin in my influence, I am like the people who crucified Christ.

If I lead my life in a way that does not honour Christ, I crucify him afresh.

Lord, I know I fall short and you offer me incredible grace. May I honour you more and more each day as I strive to grow in my faith

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Monday 15 October, 2018

Matthew 27:11-26

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. 15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

I have been reading this passage a few times, as it is quite a pivotal moment in the whole crucifixion story. It is here that Pilot gives into the crowd and condemns Jesus to death. No one can give him a reason worthy of death, his wife says don’t do it, but in the end, he does.

A couple of things stand out.

Firstly, Jesus only responds to the truth. Pilot asks “are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus answered him, saying “You said it”.

Secondly, Jesus ignored all the lies. He didn’t respond to them or try to defend himself, he left them alone. He could have challenged them easily but he didn’t.

Thirdly, and most significantly to me is that this whole scene is not normal. Nothing in this Court seems valid. Nothing seems right, it’s all wrong and totally against Jesus. It’s not a fair trial. Pilot simply gave up or gave into the crowd.

Yet we know that ultimately, this scene of chaos was all a part of God’s plan. Jesus simply trusted his father, and that is all God asks us to do, simply trust the plan.

We don’t know all the details, how it will turn out, whatever it is that we may go through, but we can follow the same three steps. Respond to the truth, in all things, Jesus is the King. Ignore the lies and doubts that invade our minds, and simply trust our heavenly Father.

It’s going to work out great.

Father, I thank you that you have plans for each one of us, plans for our good, to give us a future and a hope. I will trust you.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Sunday 14 October, 2018

Matthew 27:1-10

27 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 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 and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

So this is a crazy specific set of circumstances which led to the fulfilment of a prophesy made in the Old Testament hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.

Judas was paid by the chief priests to betray Jesus, and now, filled with remorse, he gives back the money that he was paid.

One can only assume that the chief priests would NOT have wanted to purposely do something to fulfil a prophesy that points to Jesus as being the Chosen One, and yet they did just that. They used the 30 pieces of silver to buy a field from the potter, which fulfils this very specific set of verses:

Zechariah 11:12-13 “I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

 It strikes me how God ultimately always gets his way, even when there are people like the chief priests who don’t want to cooperate with Him! Or people like me who actually do want to cooperate with Him, but still mess up on a regular basis.

This fills me with a great sense of peace in the ability of God to run the show for this world, but more specifically in my life.

When I think that I’ve messed things up and disappointed God and myself, I need to remember how good God is at fulfilling His plans in spite of my failings. For that I am very thankful!

 

Written by Shelley Witt

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Saturday 13 October, 2018

Matthew 26:69-75

69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Such a dark moment. A dark moment in the Bible, in Peter’s life, in history.

I wonder at the anguish that Jesus felt in the garden of Gethsemane – when He sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Was He thinking of this moment? When his best friend would abandon Him?

But what about me? Where do I start if I consider my sins that were heaped on Him? Peter’s darkest moment was recorded for all time but I’ve got plenty of those. It could well have been me in those pages.

I wonder if there was a greater anguish that Jesus felt. Far greater than my sin or Peter’s sin. I wonder if it was the anguish of love – that at that moment my eternity and Peter’s eternity hung in the balance – teetering between heaven and hell. Jesus would pay the price for me and for Peter  – that was certain. But would Peter choose it? Would I? Would he choose the forgiveness Jesus offers to all of us? Or would Jesus loose him forever?

Jesus, I bow before you – in repentance and faith. Through what you did – that’s the only way I can be forgiven. Thanks for loving me that much that you didn’t want to loose me forever. I choose you today.   Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Friday 12 October, 2018

Matthew 26:57-68

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” 62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. 67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

This passage shows us the amazing forbearance towards sin that God has, and the staggering riches of His mercy. God, in total perfection, came to earth, lived among men and women, and this was their reply to God. They spat in Jesus’ face! Through this Jesus continued to maintain His composure. Why? Because Jesus had prepared Himself in the garden and He was fully ready to suffer at the hands of sinners in order to pay the penalty for sin. This is the great love of God for us. Nothing can separate us from God, not even the rejection, terrible injustice and death that Jesus endured. God loves us so much that nothing on this earth can separate us from His act of grace.

We praise you Jesus for your victory over sin and injustice and ask for forgiveness when we sin or act unjustly. We thank you for your patience with us and your continuing overflowing of grace in our lives. Amen

Written by Meredith O’Neill

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