Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Wow imagine being there for that event. I am not surprised the disciples worked tirelessly to fulfil Jesus’ final face to face instructions. However, I doubt anybody could have predicted a 2000 year plus delay in Jesus’s return. Even the disciples thought at least one of them would still be alive to see His return.
This has led me to think about the role delayed or failed expectations play in our Christian life and how this affects our faith. These are the delays in answered prayers or the trials of life that we expect to be protected from but have had to endure instead. We have all experienced this but for some these are seemingly soul-destroying lifechanging situations that challenge the notion of a loving God. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 as being ‘perplexed but not to despair’ and credits the ‘power of God’ as stopping him from being crushed.
This is my challenge to you for today, without minimising your own personal difficulties spend some time praying about how you might support another person through their painfully delayed or unanswered prayers. It can be as simple as texting somebody and saying, ‘I am praying for you’.
Lord, sustain us through difficult times of unanswered prayers and show us how to support others in their time of need.
Written by David Newton
1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
What a great start! Luke, the author of
Acts launches in, boots and all, saying “My first book was all about Jesus. Now
I’m going to tell you about the Holy Spirit and how the story continues.”
I’m hooked. But there’s a phrase that I can’t get passed in verse
4. Jesus says “don’t leave Jerusalem…” It’s left me pondering.
What was significant about Jerusalem? Was it the temple? Was it because it was where Jesus ascended into heaven? I don’t know. What I do know is that all the disciples stayed together and worshipped! (see the last verse in Luke’s first book!). Jerusalem meant they were together.
Something very special and awe-inspiring happens when followers of Jesus meet together to pray and worship. The unity, humility and single-minded hunger for God seems to move His heart. He comes. He sits in on our praises (Psalm 22:3) and comes close. This is a blessing and a joy and a mystery that defies words. When the church draws near to God, He comes.
It’s so cool that the Holy Spirit was first given to the church as they “stayed in Jerusalem and worshipped.” This puts the importance of church in a whole new light.
Lord I see the significance of being in Church. I want your presence more than anything. So I will stay in “Jerusalem” with my Church Family and worship with all my heart. And I will meet you there! Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
What a contrast! At the beginning of chapter 24 we had women going to the tomb mourning a dead Jesus because they think he is gone. Now the disciples have just seen him really go, and they are worshipping him, and they are absolutely filled with joy that lasts. What a difference the resurrection makes!
The disciples have had their minds opened to see that all the scriptures point towards Jesus. The whole of Israel’s story has been working up to this decisive point. God’s restoration of his people, of the whole of creation, has started. It’s happening now.
Jesus didn’t finish blessing them and then go. It was while he was blessing them. And that blessing continues. As Jesus goes, the Holy Spirit comes. Not just God with us. God living in us. The story of God’s people continues as God’s restoration unfolds to include us.
Indeed, reason for worship and joy!
Written by David Cornell
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Jesus has risen and is now with his disciples sharing food once again. He supernaturally opens their minds to understand scripture which they are to now share with all nations but they are to wait to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
How grateful am I that they did this. They waited and then they went. Repentance and the forgiveness of sin is the main message to be preached to all nations v47. Down the centuries believers have done this. Now as believers we are to do this – let people (friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, strangers) know there is forgiveness for sin, their lives can be made right and future changed, freedom and restoration can come. What fabulous news! Jesus did not leave the disciples an impossible task and he didn’t leave them alone to do it, the Holy Spirit was going with them and empowering them. I have received the same power from on high as the disciples, Jesus command to them is the same for me, the challenge for me is to do it. Let others know, as someone did for me, of this good news and not forget where I have come from and what Jesus has done for me.
Holy Spirit come and fill me again with your passion and boldness to speak of your life, repentance and forgiveness through Jesus. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
Ever seen a ghost – not I – thankfully! But the gathered disciples in this story thought they had when they saw Jesus suddenly among them! His immediate response to them being startled – “Peace, be with you”. He could have said other things, like, ‘I told you I was coming back – why so startled’ or a myriad of other responses, but He goes straight to the heart, to deal with fear, concern. Then as if to prove things He goes to the physical realities of His crucifixion to show this is real. The emotion salve, then the physical proof.
Experts in the field of emotional intelligence tell us that our brains process information, first emotionally, then rationally. That every rational thought comes with an emotion attached. Assuming the truth of this research, we do well to approach situations, especially unfamiliar situations or concerning, even fear-filled situations with an approach that deals with the felt need and the emotions attached prior to the perceived rational element of a situation. Jesus’ appeal to peace is one we each need to hear, perhaps more often than we realise. What do you expect to hear from Jesus when faced with a new, scary situation?
Father may we experience the powerful peace that guards our hearts and our minds in Jesus!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Wouldn’t we all love to be on the road when Jesus revealed the significance of the Old Testament scriptures, fulfilled in himself! A session of unlocking the promises and plans of God. Wow!
This account continues the events as Jesus gradually revealed himself to his closest followers. I’m fascinated how he chose to come along side these travellers rather than head straight for the Eleven who were gathered together in town.
Even more to notice that it was not until he had performed an everyday task of breaking bread (that is blessing and sharing their meal) that these two friends recognised Jesus. It was an act they would have seen him do countless times over the years together, so familiar it all suddenly became clear to them – this was really Jesus.
This demonstrates two things to me. Jesus is about relationship with us, just like he was with these friends. Sharing a meal in someone’s home is all about relationship. Secondly, God reveals himself in the everyday, all the time. Many people seek a special moment of revelation of God’s presence, but God reveals himself in the normal everyday, when I am seeking him, day after day. It could be through his Word, or the word of a Christian friend just at the perfect moment. It could be as I pray and know he is with me, or as I serve and bring blessing to others.
Dear Lord Jesus. You spent time with two of your shattered friends who thought they had lost you. You brought incredible hope. Thank you that day by day, not just on Sundays, in your love you reveal yourself to me by your Holy Spirit and bring hope. Speak to me today. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Angels have come to speak with Mary, Joanna and his mother Mary at the tomb of Jesus, early Sunday morning – to tell them “He is risen” “He is alive”. Now later that day we find Jesus walking with two disciples Cleopas and his friend on the 7 mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus. On this walk Jesus “carefully unveils to them the revelation of himself throughout the Scripture. He starts from the beginning and explained the writings of Moses and all the prophets, showing about how they wrote about Him and revealed the truth about Himself.”
This 7 mile walk becomes a life changing journey for Cleopas and his friend. They open their home to welcome Him to dinner and stay. As He breaks bread and blesses it before their eyes, they are suddenly aware that Jesus Himself is here with them. They are so overcome by joy at this meeting with Jesus, they walk back 7 miles to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
I wonder if we gather together and talk about Jesus – He might manifest Himself in our midst. It reminds me how important it is to gather in a Connect Group with each other. To share a meal together. To share communion together. To open our home and our dinner table to others. Jesus is so often present in those moments.
In our busy lives we can neglect what is important. Demands scream at us; however I think the most important time is around a dinner table. Make 2020 a time to gather with others and see if Jesus turns up!!
Lord help us to manage our time so we prioritise time with you and time with each other. Help us to carve out time into our schedules to Make Room for others. Come and be with us as we gather at the dinner table.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
It is helpful for me to always remember that people have always found the resurrection of Jesus nonsense. The truth is that it does not make sense, history, for the most part, tells us over and over again that ‘once dead, always dead’. But here, in the very centre of human history, we have the resurrection from the dead, and promise for all of humanity that death has been defeated.
If not for the grace of God, Peter, James, John and the other disciples would not have believed in the resurrection of Jesus. If not for the grace of God, the Apostle Paul would have continued to persecute Christians and would never have believed in the resurrection of Jesus. If not for the grace of God, I would not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
When people around me sneer or reject the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, I should not be surprised, nor should I be too down-hearted; it has always been this way. Nor should I be surprised to see the greatest cynics repent and believe the good news… it has always been this way.
Lord my God, by grace you have softened my heart and made me awake to the wonderful resurrection life to be found in Jesus. I ask for the same grace to be extended to my friends, my family and my neighbours.
Written by Andrew Mellor
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
I cannot imagine how Joseph or the women felt following the death of Jesus. They had followed him and believed in him and then they had watched him die a cruel death. It must have taken incredible bravery to ask for his body, care for it, given they would have been seen as siding with a criminal. It’s a reminder to me that even in my darkest moments, just like these friends of Jesus, God has a purpose and calling on my life that cannot be ignored. Joseph and these women did the right thing regardless of how difficult that was for them. In a world that says put yourself first, there are times when we are called to stand up for what we believe in first of all.
Jesus I thank you for all that you did for me when you died on the cross. I thank you that you put aside your self for the sake of all the world. Help me to always act in a way that brings honour and glory to you. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
There are several groups of people here watching Jesus die on the cross.
The first group, are the ones who were caught up in the frenzy and zeal of the religious leaders who wanted to put Jesus to death. When they got what they wanted, they probably realised that the death of Jesus was not what they wanted. This group was overcome with deep sorrow and they grieved, believing that this was the end.
The second group are Jesus friends who had followed him from Galilee, hoping that this was not the end, but struggling because of what they could see. They didn’t want to get to close, possibly in case the Pharisees or the crowd turned on them next.
But Luke records a third group, an individual. It is the Roman centurion. His response is worth reflecting on. On this day, he is simply carrying out his duties, and organising the execution of 3 Jewish men. He has probably done this many times, but this time, seeing Jesus death caused him to pause and recognise that this Jew, Jesus, was innocent and not worthy of this horrible death. And significantly, this Roman centurion worshipped God.
In the face of a terrible situation, or “the end”, what is my response? To grieve and walk away? To stand of in the distance? Or to recognise Jesus, in the midst of the situation, and worship him.
My responses haven’t always been to worship God in what appears to be “the end”. It has sometimes been to distance myself from him, to focus on the end. We know how “this situation” turned out. So, without the benefit of hindsight, Jesus has proven himself worthy of worship over and over again, and I choose, in the middle of it all, to worship Him.
Written by Andrew Martin
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus, you are absolutely stunning.
As you hang, suspended on a cross, by nails pierced through your hands and feet… with thorns digging into your head and the torn raw flesh on your back against splintered wood… displayed for the crowd in naked vulnerability… mocked and verbally abused by those around you… still your words betray that you thought most of others…
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
How great your love is for us Jesus, though we are not worthy of it. As we were cursing you, you were forgiving us… Jesus, thank you for loving me in spite of my brokenness and rebellion. Forgive me for all the times I have used my freedom against you, and for all the times I have doubted your love. Help me to receive your extravagant love, and to give it away. Amen.
Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh
26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ 31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Do not mourn for me?
As Jesus is lead away to be killed in the most unjust event in human history, there are those who are brave enough to express their love and support of Jesus through wailing out loud about his mistreatment and impending painful death.
I wonder if I would be brave enough to even be there? Would I be so fearful for my own life that I couldn’t be there?
Jesus tells them not to mourn. But what he references isn’t the risk to their lives on that day, but instead an event that would happen almost exactly 40 years in the future (I believe Jesus was crucified on 7th April A.D. 30). When Jesus says “For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” I believe he is talking about the destruction of the temple at Passover, on the 9th of April in A.D. 70, recorded by Jewish historian Josephus. It has been reported that up to 1.1 million people died in the siege.
Even though Jesus was going to the cross as a completely innocent person, he knew his purpose and he knew what his death and resurrection would achieve. As he calls me today to follow him, I am challenged to reflect on my life and its meaning and impact.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”  [a] 18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) 20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
Here is a case of the insistent,
demanding voices prevailing.
Pilate did not want to condemn Jesus to death. He knew that Jesus was not guilty of any crime and he was planning to release Jesus. But the crowd pressured Pilate to go against his conscience and follow their demands to crucify Jesus.
The pressure of people’s opinions can be a powerful force, driving us to do and/or say things that we later regret. I think we’ve probably all been there – I certainly have.
Proverbs tells us that “the fear of man is a snare” (Prov 29:25). When we are more concerned with people’s opinions rather than God’s opinion we will inevitably get caught.
The fear of God is the antidote to the trap of the fear of man. The more I focus on what my Father in heaven thinks, the less I am pressured by what people think of me.
Lord help me today, and every day to make choices that honour You, not driven by the need to impress others.
Written by Shelley Witt
23 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” 3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” 5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” 6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
He didn’t speak a word (see verse 9 and Isaiah 53:7). Not one word. I never realised how profound this was. At His word the universe was created. At His word the sick were healed. At His word the demons fled. One word from Jesus and the dead are raised to life. John even describes Jesus as the Word.
Just one syllable from Jesus could have put an end to this horrendously unjust trial – yet He said nothing.
And so, through His profound silence, my salvation is purchased.
And maybe, I’m learning that when my loving Heavenly Father says nothing, what He is saying to me is so much more meaningful than words can express.
Lord, help me not interpret your silence as coldness or judgement but remember your silence bought me salvation.
Written by Boudy VanNoppen
63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him. 66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” 70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
In this passage, the leading priests and teachers of the law, were trying to get a confession out of Jesus in order to charge Him and sentence Him to death. But Jesus was aware of what they were doing and would not enter the game they were playing, saying “If I tell you, you won’t believe Me, and if I ask, you won’t answer”. He knows their hearts are hardened towards Him.
As I reflect, I wonder how hardened my heart is? Or what parts I close off to Him? If I ask Jesus something, will I believe Him? Or will I too play games, asking for another sign or ignore what He says?
Lord, You are great and know all things. You see straight to our heart. You know when we dance around the edges. Help us to humble ourselves and listen and receive what You have to say.
Written by Gab Martin
54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” 57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. 58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. 59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Whenever I read this passage, I often struggle to understand how Peter could have so adamantly denied Jesus after all He had done for him. However, it was fear that crept into Peter’s heart and caused him to deny Christ. It was fear of what man would think or do that caused him to stand on his own and detach himself from his Saviour. It was fear that clouded his thinking and led him to betray Jesus.
Whilst I often think Peter was foolish to deny Jesus so many times, I am challenged to think about when I deny Jesus – in the way I live or speak. When do I choose to go my own way or neglect sharing my faith in Jesus when opportunities arise? Fear can so easily creep in and cause us to get side tracked. 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that the Spirit of God does not make us timid or fearful, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. I am reminded today, to invite God’s Holy Spirit into my heart, to help me be strong and stay the path He has for me.
God, I thank You for Your love and grace. Please help me to be strong and courageous in my pursuit for You. May Your perfect love cast out any fear in me today. In Jesus’ Name.
Written by Laura Samperi
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”
Even though I know where this is
leading, it still saddens me every time I read this section of passage.
How could a friend betray Jesus in this manner… Journey with Him for
many years, minister, share life experiences & then betray Him for money.
Then we see the other disciples fight for Jesus by cutting off the ear of one of the mob. The two extremes of being a disciple…
I want my life to count for something positive, to be known for getting on with the things that God has planned for me. I know to achieve this, I need to make good & wise choices, I can’t just sit back and wait for God to make my next move. We know that Judas made his own choice in his part of Jesus arrest. We also know that it was part of a bigger plan God had for mankind.
One of God’s promises to us is that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose for them.
I thank you God for your perfect plan!
Written by Mandy Miller
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
In this time of extreme anguish, when Jesus knew what he would suffer in order to be obedient to His Father, He still chose to do it. As humans we focus on the physical pain He suffered, but I believe that for Jesus separation from His Father would be the most extreme suffering for Him. We cannot fully comprehend what that is like. His love for us is so self-sacrificial. We need to ponder that anew and never take it for granted. Then we will not lose “our first love” for him.
Secondly, in the midst of all that was happening to him Jesus was urging the disciples to pray that they would not fall into temptation. Despite the suffering He was facing He was still teaching and looking after his followers first.
Jesus thank you, thank you, thank you. Help me to make choices of obedience, not convenience.
Written by Megan Cornell
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.
Be prepared. It’s about to get tough.
Here we see Jesus talking with his disciples at the end of his final Passover meal, warning them that the next days and weeks are going to become difficult as God’s plan for redemption enters a new stage. The time of Jesus ministry on earth is coming to an end and he is about to face crucifixion. He warns them also that he is about to be counted as a criminal to fulfil Isaiah 53:12.
When Jesus sent out the disciples previously (Luke 9:3) he told them to take nothing but this time Jesus warns that the disciples will face persecution and they should be prepared for it.
We too, as believers, need to be prepared and ready to stand firm. How can we do that?
Ephesians 6: 14-17 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Lord we praise your name because you are mighty and have conquered this world. Help us to be prepared to face opposition in our lives because of you, help us to stand firm with your armour firmly attached and with your name on our lips. Amen
Written by Jocelyn Petschack
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
Of all the times I have read this passage I never realised this warning from Jesus was directed to all the disciples. The ‘sift you’ is plural meaning ‘sift you all’ however the ‘I have prayed to you’ is singular meaning Peter alone. It is interesting to note the context for this was a dispute over who was the greatest disciple and it’s not hard to imagine Peter being a highly vocal participant.
This has left me wondering about the nature of failing faith or more specifically non-failing faith. What are the characteristics of robust faith that does not break when tested?
The answer is, there are many characteristics to robust faith but according to the context here I suggest ‘humility’ is what allows us to best manage faith-testing hardship.
You may not agree with this idea, but it is still worth taking time today to think about the qualities of humility that God is looking for in His people. How does humility reveal itself in your daily life and how has humility helped you endure personal hardship?
Lord, I ask you to help us during times of wavering faith and reveal to us the kind of humility you desire us to exercise in our daily lives.
Written by David Newton
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
In this chapter we have the narrative of Passover preparation, Jesus participating in the Passover meal & then a seeming oddly placed self-centred dispute amoung the disciples.
Luke doesn’t record it, but elsewhere in the gospels this is where Jesus washes the disciples feet. Jesus is teaching & demonstrating servanthood. In this age of self gratification, self promotion, life is all about me, Jesus demonstrates the better way to live & lead. We are to be one who serves another, preferring each other, a much needed personal attribute today.
This is a brilliant reminder to me that I can also be just as self-serving & absorbed, even in the midst of significant moments where the focus is on others.
Lord Jesus, please help my selfishness, that my focus would be less on me & more to serve those you have brought around me. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
This scene is immensely powerful. The last meal you will spend on earth. I would put a lot of serious thought to who would be there at my final meal. Family? Friends? Betrayer? What would I say? How could I encourage, challenge, build, love those there? Jesus spends His last meal with friends. He says He has eagerly desired to share the meal with them, yet one of them is a betrayer. Eager – this word seems to limit the emotion, the expectation, the sense of desire and longing I am pretty certain Jesus would have had to speak with, to be with, to love, encourage and prepare His friends for the last time. Of course He speaks to them, but perhaps more importantly He sets up a means for His friends, and those who become His friends in time to come, us, a practical means of remembering Him. So practical it is incorporated in a meal. Communion as we have come to experience it is truly important, special and powerful. Jesus didn’t just encourage, prepare and love His disciples at that last meal, He set them up for the future – He gave them a way to stop, reflect, reorient and this is just some of what communion can do, should do for us whenever we receive it!
So, next time you receive communion, come prepared, take the time to get off your chest burdens, confess your sins, receive grace and allow this special meal to be a true reminder of the magnificence of our Saviour!
Father we ask that You would encounter us with the Spirit of Jesus each and every time we receive communion. May we not take it for granted, however, may it be a means of Your grace in our lives that we would more truly follow our Master, Jesus!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” 9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. 10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” 13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
Jesus is moving towards the end of his ministry and here he begins preparations for an important meal with his disciples – a meal where he presents himself as the Passover lamb.
I noticed a number of surprising aspects of this passage including:
Jesus wanted things prepared,
Jesus knew the man, and that he had a room,
The man was ready to meet the disciples,
The room was available at short notice in a busy city, and
The disciples appear to have followed Jesus’ instructions without a query.
These all speak of Jesus being in control.
Such a significant event. The man however is not named, and he is only mentioned once here, yet we see how God was using him in a crucial way. His heart was open, listening to God’s prompting to meet these disciples, that this was important even in the midst of his busy daily life, and also that he should keep the room free. He would not have known the significance of the meal to be held there, but he was available to serve Jesus.
God puts me in situations where he can achieve significant things through my obedience. He is in control, but by his gracious love and design he works through me.
Dear Jesus, I’m tuning into you today and ask that you do significant things through me to bring you glory. Amen.
Written by Claire Moore
22 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
This is a moment which changes history forever. Judas takes this opportunity to betray Jesus. What I immediately notice is that verse 3 says that Satan entered Judas before he went to temple guards.
Proverbs 4:23 immediately comes to mind when I read this and becomes my prayer. Guarding our hearts is so incredibly important so that we protect ourselves from the schemes of the enemy.
Heavenly Father, help me today to guard my heart for I know that from it comes the wellspring of life. Thank you that you hold the victory over the enemy, thank you that you turned this moment where Judas betrayed you into the greatest victory in history. Help me to have faith that you redeem every situation and turn all things the enemy meant for evil into good for your glory.
In Jesus Name, Amen!
Written by Ps. Annique Botta
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” 37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.
In response to a question the disciples asked in verse 7, Jesus continues in His description of the signs that will precede the destruction of the temple and signal end times. This includes the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgement of the nations. In verse 22: Jesus says “For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.”
Clearly God has warned of these days – and as terrible as they seem, they are part of God’s plan.
But what do I take away from these verses? Is it God’s intention to fill me with fear and dread about the days to come?
As I have reflected on this, it is the final verses that ring in my ears.
I don’t know when this will happen or if it is even happening now. My job is not to stand around waiting for it, but to continue with the job God has given me to do now, ready – when it does happen – to look upward – confident that God is in control and that my salvation is near!
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” 7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” 8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” 10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. 12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
This passage depicts a time to come, a time of war and destruction when people turn against one another, but I think it has wise instructions for us now as well as in that time to come.
3 instructions that stick out to me in this passage are:
3. Listen to Him and do not depend on your own understanding.
Jesus was asked to defend his statements, actions and beliefs many times. His answers are often puzzling. They are not your typical defences. Jesus has the words and the wisdom we need. We need to ask him for help and listen to him.
Jesus Thankyou for the Bible. Thankyou that we can know who you are and what you are like. Thankyou for your Holy Spirit in us who helps us to discern. May we know you more and not be misled by false teachings or values. Help us not to be afraid but to trust in you each day. May we know, without any doubt, that you are true and faithful. Help us to listen to you and come to you for wisdom and the right words especially when we face adversity. Thankyou that you are our provider, defender, and our Lord. Amen
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
I wonder what led the widow in this passage to give the way she did?
Had she been saving her coins specifically to bring to the temple? Was she nervous about giving all of her financial means away? Was she in the habit of giving in this way?
The Bible doesn’t give us a lot of background information here, but it does tell us that Jesus noticed the way she gave and saw her ‘small’ offering as anything but. Given that women, especially poor and widowed women, were seen as ‘less than’ in the historical context of the passage, it was a big deal that Jesus highlighted the way that she gave.
It makes me ask of myself:
Where are the areas of my life that I feel called to give of my resources but I feel like poverty (or a poverty mindset) is holding me back?
God, let me never be held back by a mindset that convinces me that I have nothing to give. I pray that all of my giving – however small or large – would require a step of faith, as it is faith that pleases you. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko
45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
Jesus was never afraid. He told it like it was. He clearly sounded out His expectation of those who lead and those who follow Him.
“Within earshot of ALL the people, Jesus warns the disciples….”.
I don’t know about you, but I am a “backrow” girl, when I was at school and I still prefer to sit at the back. However, I don’t really have that option now, so what do I do? I have to make a choice about a few things.
1. I am not in church to tick a box, or to been seen.
2. I attend church out of obedience, to worship my God with His family and to listen and learn from Him. So whether I sit in the front or the back doesn’t matter.
3. I have to make a choice not to be intimidated or feel self-conscious. I choose to worship Him wholeheartedly, with my mouth, my song, my body and all that I am.
4. I don’t want to become religious. I want to be like a child, awaiting what God has for me each week. Expectant in my heart.
5. I am desperate and so in need of His presence and His peace. Church = gathering together brings that to me. I am strengthened each time I am with His body.
6. I desire to be changed by Him – when I worship the songs speak to my heart and bring freedom as I declare His promises.
Jesus tells us not to neglect meeting together. He knows what we need.
Lord, I love you and want to become more like you. Help me Lord to be transformed by your Holy Spirit. Keep my ears and eyes open to your word. Change me to make me more like you.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118