Saturday 30 April 2022

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In Jesus parting words to his disciples, he declares he is God.  He is the one with authority “in heaven and earth.” “All things have been handed over to me by My Father” – Luke 10:22.

This includes authority over our enemy, Satan. Jesus has won the ultimate victory over Satan, and he keeps fighting that great deceiver on our behalf every day. I don’t want to be lulled into some stupor and not treat Satan seriously – how is he attacking me today? I claim victory on those situations in Jesus’ name as I press on by faith.

Jesus also has authority over sin in my life. He has won the victory and strengthens me to turn away from that behaviour, thought or attitude, when I confess and walk with Him. 1 Peter 1:16 calls us to live obedient lives to live “a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, ‘I am holy, you be holy.’”

He also has authority as a judge – John 5:26-27. I recently saw someone treat a judge as though he had no power over him – big mistake. We can ignore God but that has eternal consequences.

Jesus authority comes from the Father. He stands in the Trinity here as an equal, as God the Son. It is in this name he sends out the disciples, a name of power and blessing. A name of authority. Their task – to spread the message of salvation to all. Here is a new era! You and I are the beneficiaries!

I love the fact he chose all the disciples to continue his work – even though some were doubting. This is because he is a God of relationship, who doesn’t call for blind obedience, but for those who love him to come to him in their struggles and uncertainties, and with their questions. He loves us despite all of that. He is in control. He is with me.

Dearest Lord Jesus, search me and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. I know you have the victory in my struggles. I claim that today. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Friday 29 April 2022

Matthew 28:11-15 (NIV)

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Jesus had risen! The angel had rolled back the stone so all could see an empty tomb. The women were afraid but exuberant and worshipped. Meanwhile, the soldiers ran off and reported to the chief priests. The chief priests and elders devised bribery, deception, and spin to hide the truth. Jesus had risen!

So many responses to one event that changed human history. The focus of this passage is the length of the deception the chief priests were willing to go to, to hide from the truth of who Jesus is.

I have been reminded while thinking on this passage that we all possess the tendency to do this … hide from the truth. We may not go as far as devising elaborate deceptions, but we can certainly want to hide. The unfortunate thing is, if the Chief Priests had embraced the truth of Jesus’s resurrection, it would have brought them incredible freedom.

Especially at Easter, Lord I pray that we may all embrace the truth of the resurrection of Jesus afresh in our lives today.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Thursday 28 April 2022

Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)

1 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.”

This passage is full of astonishingly wrong expectations. The women came in fear and grief expecting to find Jesus dead in a sealed tomb. The earthquake was the least astounding thing they found. What looked like just the dawn of a new day was the dawn of a whole new stage of history. Jesus is the first one raised from death to eternal resurrection life, and we will join him in that same resurrection life when he returns.

Jesus chooses these two brave, faithful women as his first witnesses. They tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee where Jesus will commission them to be his witnesses too. And they are to teach all Jesus’ followers to be his witnesses too. That includes you and me.

It’s both unexpected and significant that Jesus chooses women as his witnesses. No woman’s testimony would be accepted in their culture. Yet it’s these two brave, faithful women that Jesus chooses as his first witnesses, to announce him to the world. Its even more astounding that Jesus chooses me to be his witness too. But he does.

This is the beginning of Jesus reconciling and restoring all of creation. It’s already begun. Jesus gives us all a part to play now. And it will all come to a glorious completion when Jesus returns.

Jesus, we’re overwhelmed with joy and excitement that you are alive, and that you’re transforming us and our world now. I love that your Spirit is alive in me today. To be honest, I’m like these women and filled with both fear and joy that you choose me to be your witness too. Please give me just a bit of the bravery and faithfulness of these two women. Work with me in speaking your truth into my world.

Written by David Cornell

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Wednesday 27 April 2022

Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV)

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.

Why would it ever surprise me that the world has its agenda to suppress and deny God? And that there are those in the world who will go to extremes to do this. The men in this passage did not hesitate to use their relationship which those in authority to try and suppress Jesus even when they had killed him. Even in all this God was there and they sadly did not understand his power.

They thought the disciples might ‘fake’ a resurrection because perhaps that is what they might have done in those circumstances. But actually, the extra security at the tomb amplifies and adds validation to the resurrection. Their guards left no room for doubt that something supernatural was about to take place. I have confidence that in God’s economy nothing is ever wasted. And I see it here where the world’s attempt to suppress Jesus ended up adding to the proof of his resurrection.

So do not be discouraged if you are experiencing push back for your faith – remember that God can use even the most deliberate opposition for His glory. 

Father, thank you that you always Love and care for me and for the church of believers. Help me to see your hand at work when I am discouraged and help me to have the faith to know that you are there, and you act mightily, even when I can’t see or feel it. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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  1. Richard says:

    Chris – great thoughts

    I am taken with the use of the term deceiver in this passage (other versions say imposter and liar). Deceiver is a term usually reserved for the devil and best describes the web of lies and deceit he uses to ensnare people in sin and godlessness. In a day and age when ‘truth’ is traded and ‘your truth’ and ‘my truth’ are phrases we hear with some regularity giving rise to the validation of virtually any and all opinion we do well to recognise that ‘the Truth’ is here called the deceiver. Yet we should not be surprised for how else do you counter truth but to call it a lie or that’s good for you but…

    John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is the Truth – which is not only about what He said but also about the way He lived. We do well to emulate His life and follow His Words as truth so as we can live in His power and light. We do well to remember there is objective truth and His Name is Jesus. We do well to seek to follow Jesus in His truth that others may be set free by this same truth. We also do well not to weaponise truth remembering that Jesus was full of both grace and truth and His grace preceded His truth suggesting that truth can only be truly experienced if brought through the means of grace.

    Father help me be a person of truth.

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Tuesday 26 April 2022

Matthew 27:57-61 (NIV)

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.

This passage documents the historical event of Jesus’ burial: Joseph took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped him in a clean burial cloth, placed him in his own tomb and closed it. This is all very nice and neat.

But I wonder what Joseph was feeling at the time he was doing this. Had he lost hope? Did he worry about his future? Did he doubt his faith in Jesus? Burying who he thought was the Messiah, he must have wondered who was going to save them now. In verse 60 it says Joseph “rolled a great stone across the entrance and left”. The finality of death.

But for God, death precedes new life.

When Jesus died, he took all our sin and shame and nailed it to the cross. When he was buried, he buried the old Adam, the old nature. Jesus did this for all of us. Our sin and shame have been buried and left behind in the tomb.

In the coming passages, we know that God will resurrect Jesus. We know that new Life will come.

But for now, reading this burial passage, let us be reminded that some things remain in the tomb. Our feelings of sin and shame have been dealt with, so leave them there.   

Father, I thank you that you have dealt with my sin and shame through Jesus’ death. Holy Spirit help me not to pick up these old feelings and instead live in the power of Jesus’ resurrection life!

Written by Gab Martin

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Monday 25 April 2022

Matthew 27:45-56 (NIV)

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.

When Jesus cried out, asking why God had abandoned him, Matthew doesn’t mean, ‘Oh, that was all right; you see, it only felt like that’.  Part of the whole point of the cross is that there the weight of the world’s evil converged on Christ, blotting out God’s love as surely as the light of day was blotted out for three hours.  Jesus is ‘giving his life as a ransom for many’, and the sin of the ‘many’, which He is bearing, has for the first and only time in His life caused a break to come between Him and the Father.

He was obedient to the end, even through this separation to His God-given mission.  He takes with him, into the darkness of death, the sin of the world: my sin, your sin, the sin of countless billions, the weight that has hung around the world’s neck and dragged it down to destruction.

And what comes next, with all this death, destruction and sin.  A centurion, standing guard at the foot of the cross, gives voice to the confession of faith that billions would make, ‘He really was God’s son!’  Matthew calls us, expects us to join with the Centurion as we look at the death of Jesus.  Jesus’ death has changed the shape of the world.

The effect of Jesus giving His life; the example of love, of confronting evil with goodness; His taking of the world’s hatred and anger to Himself; the defeat of the powers of evil, the blotting out of the sins of the world, all of this is to be seen around the world.  It is seen, not only in the millions who worship Jesus and thank him for his death, but in the work of healing which flows from it: in reconciliation and hope, for communities and for individuals. The world is indeed a different place because of what Jesus did in His death.

What do you make of Jesus’ death?  Has it brought you life as He intended it would!

Father, may every person who thinks on the death of Jesus receive the life of Jesus in exchange – that they may live with Him in eternity!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 24 April 2022

Matthew 27:32-44 (NIV)

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.

This passage is full of irony.

The soldiers mocked Jesus by placing a sign over his head, yet he really was King of the Jews.

Passers-by mocked him for saying “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19), but the temple he referred to was his body – which was raised in three days.

The chief priests and teachers of the law mocked him, saying “He saved others, but he can’t save himself” and “Let God rescue him”, yet In Matt 26:53, at his arrest, Jesus tells the disciples not to defend him, saying “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

The final irony is that there is so much fulfilment of prophecy here. The death of the Messiah and the soldiers’ actions in offering Jesus poisoned wine and casting lots for his clothes area prophesied in Psalm 22:16-18. The insults hurled at him are prophesied in Psalm 22:7-8. There are many other prophecies about the Messiah, especially in Isaiah 53.

So what does all that mean for me? Two things stand out. I am touched yet again by Jesus’ suffering – emotional as well as physical. I imagine that it took effort to not react to the taunts thrown at him. I am also freshly amazed and reassured by the truth of the Bible – prophecies of these events are so accurate although written over 900 years earlier.

Dear Lord, thank you for enduring so much to rescue me. And thank you for giving us the Bible as a guide and a doorway to relationship with you. Let its truth continue to speak to many today. Amen

Written by Megan Cornell

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Saturday 23 April 2022

Matthew 27:27-31 (NIV)

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.

Here, Jesus is under trial, he is being mocked, mistreated, and brutally teased for being Himself, for being obedient to His Father, our Father – God.  Sometimes I think we read this, and we have a familiarity to this story that means we just keep on reading but when we truly imagine the deep pain, the emotional and psychological scaring that Jesus endured for us, it stops me. It halts me.  It makes me pause and wonder what makes Jesus think it’s worth it. Why does he think I am worth it?

Jesus chose to endure the most physical, emotional, and psychological pain imaginable as the single greatest demonstration of love in human history. Jesus fully man but fully God just took what these people were giving him, full well knowing that what he was about to do was going to create a way for them, if they chose, to be restored to the Father. Jesus knew that His suffering wasn’t in vain.

When I read this, I am led again to humble myself before Jesus to receive the gift of friendship that came at the highest cost and to remember the sacrifice of love that he made for each of us.

Written by Ps. Annique Botta

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Friday 22 April 2022

Matthew 27:11-26 (NIV)

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 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.

When I was younger, both in age and in faith, I would read passages such as these in the Bible and essentially have thoughts and questions that went like this: “How could these people have done this to Jesus? Why would they have wanted Him dead when He never did anything wrong, and only helped and healed people? I guess they couldn’t see the big picture, they didn’t know who He was and what He was about to do.”

To me, the crowd and others in this recount were the ‘bad’ people in the story, evil and vindictive for no good reason, killing an innocent man – Jesus no less.

As I have grown, I can read this now and see that I am more like these people than I wish to be. While I was not there on that day physically shouting in a mob for Jesus’ death, I too have sinned and am in great need of a saviour, of the atonement and forgiveness that Jesus bought for me at the cross. Worse still, I don’t have the excuse of not knowing who Jesus was or what happens next. I need forgiveness for sin when I know what I am doing is wrong, and I take God’s gift of forgiveness for granted. How good and kind and gracious Jesus is, that He went to the cross knowing that He was innocent, and yet was willing to pay the price so that we could be made right with Him.

God, the gift of your son Jesus is too great to even understand. Thank you for all that you have saved us from, how immense is your grace. Forgive us for taking the gift of forgiveness for granted and help us to follow you. Amen.

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

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Thursday 21 April 2022

Matthew 27:1-10 (NIV)

1 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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