"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58)

Behold The Man!

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, "Behold the man"! (John 19:1-5 KJV)

Krystal Meyers - The Beauty of Grace



John 19:28-30; Hebrews 9:16-22; Hebrews 9:23-26 and Hebrews 10:1-2, 11-14
John 19:28-30 “Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (NIV) Hebrews 9:16-22: “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep." In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 10:1-2: “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” Hebrews 10:11-14: “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (NIV)
1) “It is finished.” Let’s go back and look at the words that heralded the beginning of Christ’s ministry :
a) According to Luke 4:16-19, what was Jesus’ mission? “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
2) Just an observation. Aren’t you glad Jesus stopped his reading where he did, because that verse goes on to say, “…and the day of vengeance of our God.” (Isaiah 61.) Thank God, that day of vengeance is reserved for those who refuse to receive Christ as their Savior and King. A day of wrath is coming—but, as God’s children—we are not appointed unto wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9!) “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
3) The words, “it is finished,” is translated into the Greek word, “tetelestia,” which means “the debt is paid in full.” After sin entered into the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God, who is called Holy, and God, who is called Just, and God, who is called Love could not reconcile all these facets of Himself and allow us to enter into His presence in such a state.
a) The God who is Holy (see Habakkuk 1:13 “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.”) cannot even look upon sin. So, that definitely leaves us out in the cold!
b) And, the God who is Just, requires that there be some sort of retribution for sin--death (See Genesis 2:16-17 and Romans 6:23. “And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."For the wages of sin is death…”)
c) So, the God of Love had to devise a plan whereby all requirements of his holiness, His justice and His love would be met.
4) There has always been one plan—initiated by God and it was in His heart even before Adam and Eve sinned (See Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”).
5) God knew how this whole human drama called life would turn out! Believe me, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit counted the cost! (See Revelation 13:8 “…the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”) When Jesus shouted out those words, “It is finished!: it was, “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last..” (Mark 15:37) Jesus was announcing to God the Father and the entire world that He had taken upon Himself our sins and paid our sin debt with His own blood—with His own death, yes, even death on a cross! Oh, make no mistake—this was a victory shout! God won—and we were redeemed—purchased back from sin and satan! The Righteous for the unrighteous—only God!
6) Amazing, knowing how great cost--still they desired and delighted in making man and woman—so much so, that they personally created us with their own hands and made us in Their own image! (See Genesis 1:26-27). “Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.) Glory!
7) Prior to the Roman Empire, the perfect time for Christ to be born had not come (see Romans 5:6 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”) but, from the time sin entered God’s promise of redemption was promised (See Genesis 3:15. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
8) This enmity God speaks of reveals a great battle for our souls. Christ vs. satan. We win!
9) Enter the blood sacrifice. Now, I would venture to guess that most of us are probably Gentile (non-Jewish), New Testament believers. Although, if you are Jewish and a believer that Jesus came as Messiah—praise God! That has been His desire for you all along! Either way, I assume that most of us came to know Christ through New Testament scriptures and most probably, most of our devotional time is spent in the New Testament scriptures. This is quite natural, since most of us are more comforted by those scriptures. But, we can never fully comprehend Jesus’ sacrifice until we dive into the Old Testament and carefully study the “picture” the blood sacrifice gives us of Jesus Christ! Read Genesis 3:7-8 and Genesis 3:21. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
a) What were Adam and Eve attempting to do? Did it work?
i) What are some of the ways you have tried or do try to personally cover your own sin?
ii) What did God do? How and why was this different?
iii) What does Galatians 3:26-27 say we are clothed with? “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
b) Picture Eden. No sin or death had ever before been witnessed. Truly, paradise on earth! God named the stars and the heavens—the sun and the moon, but He gave Adam and Eve the awesome privilege of naming all the animals and all authority to rule over the earth! See Genesis 1:26-28: “Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” And, Genesis 2:19. “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”
10) Sin enter the world and both Adam and Eve were witness to the high cost of what they had done. Death entered paradise! Blood was spilled, and the victim was innocent of any crime. Are you beginning to see a little glimpse of Jesus here?
a) If you were Adam and Eve, how would witnessing this event make you feel?
b) What was the purpose of the sacrifice?
11) You can be sure that Adam and Eve would never forget what had taken place! A little later on we witness the sacrificial form of worship being offered by their sons, Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:3-5. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.”
a) What was Cain’s sacrifice? Was it acceptable? Why not?
i) What did Abel’s sacrifice? Was it acceptable? Why?
12) You see the pattern beginning here, don’t you? Cain brought the work of his own hands—a symbol of his own self-righteousness. Abel brought God’s accepted sacrifice—an innocent, slain animal. Blood makes the difference! (Read Leviticus 17:11. “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.”) Hebrews 9:22 makes it very plain that, “…without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.”
13) You see, God was making it very clear that the life’s blood must be given for sin. Not good works, not doing the best you can—blood. Any other way is man’s way. Excuse me while I get southern here—ain’t gonna happen! God made the plan and God will get the glory! Trust in the precious blood of the Perfect Lamb of God—Jesus Christ!
14) Turn to EXODUS 12:7; 13 “Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.” – “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” The Passover. God delivering his children from Egypt. (This is a spiritual picture of Jesus delivering us from sin!)
a) What were the Hebrew children told to cover their houses with?
b) What did the death angel do if he saw the blood? If he didn’t?
c) Do you think there were some sinners in those blood covered houses? Hmm!
15) In all these instances what was the blood used for? Did it take away the sin? Why or why not?
16) Later, in Leviticus, specifics of the Law enter the picture and God lays out for us how the sacrifice was to be performed. Read Leviticus 3:2, 8, 13 “He is to lay his hand on the head of his offering and slaughter it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Then Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood against the altar on all sides.” – “He is to lay his hand on the head of his offering and slaughter it in front of the Tent of Meeting. Then Aaron's sons shall sprinkle its blood against the altar on all sides.” – “He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the Tent of Meeting. Then Aaron's sons shall sprinkle its blood against the altar on all sides.”
a) Why do you suppose God required the one who sinned to place their hand on the head of the innocent sacrifice—taking part in the slaughtering and then seeing the innocent blood being sprinkled?
ii) What would be your personal reaction?
iii) How should we respond to Jesus’ sacrifice—the Innocent for the sinner?
iv) We just can’t leave this subject without taking a look at Genesis 22:1-14 “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.". Here, we are given a beautiful picture of God’s ultimate plan of salvation. God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, his only son—the son he loved! I can’t even imagine what must have been going in Abraham’s heart! I can hardly take it in! God will Provide! “Just in time, He brought the Lamb!” A Father giving his precious Son! Oh, the sacrifice! Worthy, worthy is the Lamb! I hope you all were able to follow through on what we discussed last week and you have willing and joyfully knelt down on your knees and face before our Awesome, Holy and Loving Father!
v) “It is finished!” No more sacrifice is needed. See Hebrews 9:23-26 “It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Under the old sacrificial system, people were coming to the priests everyday to offer up sacrifices for their sins. Can you just picture the blood that must have covered the altar! Man, those priests had to be cleaning blood up all the time—because this was a holy place and it must be kept cleaned. Even the High Priest, had to offer up sacrifices for himself, because he too was a sinner. Over and over and over again.
(1) Why were these sacrifices not enough? (See Romans 6:9-10 “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”; Hebrews 9:1-15 “Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings--external regulations applying until the time of the new order. When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”.)
(2) Hebrews 10:1-2, 11-14. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. – “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. “ Perfect cleansing of the sinner—that was the problem with animal sacrifice. Animals can never take away sin—their blood only covered it—it was a shadow or foretaste of something or Someone far more able!. Jesus—our sinless Sacrifice—the God Man. If He had only been a man, His sacrifice would have been in vain. No, as the God Man—fully tempted as we, but without sin--He alone could take away our sin and our guilt! Once and for all! What does Jesus’ sacrifice do for us that animals could not? (Read Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”) Glory!
John 19:31-37
"Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," 37. and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."
1) The Jewish leaders were so concerned that the letter of the law be kept—yet they crucified the One the law pointed them to—how crazy is that!
2) We see so much Old Testament scripture being fulfilled in these passages. Read Exodus 12:46 “"It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.”; Numbers 9:12 “They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.” and Psalm 34:20 “he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.”.) How tenderly God oversaw every detail of Christ’s death. He permitted some things, but not one of Jesus’ legs were broken—God didn’t let Him decay either! (Psalm 16:10 “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”!)
3) John 19:37 says, “They will look on Him whom they pierced.” Zechariah 12:10 “"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. “ and Revelation 1:7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. “ is prophecy that when they see Jesus, they will mourn. Why? See Revelation 6:16-17: “They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Remember, our discussion on the coming of God’s wrath? Well, this is it! This is why they mourn, it is too late. They mourn because all the evidences were there—yet, they did not repent! God forbid!



John 12:12-19 (Monday)
1) Around 430 B.C., Malachi, the last of the book of the Old Testament was written. At the point where we pick up in the book of John, the Jewish people had been without a prophet—without a spoken or written word from God for over 400 years! Last week we touched on the silence of God. It is quite often in the silences that our faith is most strongly tested and refined.
a) Psalm 28:1: “To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”
b) Psalm 35:22: “O LORD, you have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord.”
c) Psalm 83:1: “O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.”
d) Psalm 109:1: “O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent…”
2) Have you ever experienced God’s silence? How did it impact your life? What enabled you to hold on—to stand firm in your faith?
3) In these passages, the crowd following Jesus into Jerusalem were most likely the same people who had witnessed his many miracles, including raising Lazarus from the dead. John 11:1-44: reads, “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
4) Here, we find these very same people welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem in a triumphal procession worthy of a king of the Jews. In fact, they even called him the King of Israel! Although God had been silent, it is amazing that the people still had a hopeful anticipation of His promises! And, what we see happening here is prophecy actually being fulfilled! See Psalm 118:25-26: “O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.”
5) Hosanna! This had become a word used to offer praise to God and is translated as “saves.” In Matthew 1:21, our Lord is given the name, Jesus, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Joshua (Yeshuwa`, meaning, “the Lord saves or he will save.”) It is interesting to note that Joshua was God’s chosen man to lead the Hebrew children into their earthy promise land, while Jesus, the God-Man, leads us into our spiritual Promise Land--heaven.
a) How were the people hoping to be saved? See Zachariah 9:9:“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6) Gentle and riding on a donkey. A true picture of our precious Savior and King, clothed in all the glory of His humanity and His humility. This is not us, in our feeble and vain attempts to reach up to a fearsome and unapproachable God. No, this is our loving Father, reaching down to us. God—in human form, acting out of humility and obedience—meeting us at the point of our greatest need! This is the story of God’s plan of salvation and redemption! See Acts 2:23:“This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge…”
7) We would do well to take Jesus’ own advise and “…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls..." Matthew 11:29. Our souls. Always, always the desire of God is to “save” our souls! (See 2 Corinthians 5:18.) By the way, the return of our King will be much different from the humble entrance we witness here. See Revelation 19:11-16: ”I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Glory!
8) Humility does not come easy for we humans. This is evident by the fact that the Jews wanted an earthy kingdom, with an earthly ruler—me, me, me! Where is my next blessing! (Hey, I’m saying this to me, too!) They would not or could not see past the worldly into the eternal! A powerful example of the rejection of God is when the Israelites asked the prophet Samuel for a king to rule over them. See God’s response in 1 Samuel 8:4-7:“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
9) God Himself was Israel’s King—and they were not satisfied—hard to imagine, choosing man to rule over us rather than God, who loves us.
a) What do you suppose was in their hearts to lead them to make such a request?
i) Matthew 13:15: “For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'”
ii) John 5:37-43: “And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. "I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.”
(1) Who is the one who will come in his own name?
10) Since Jesus uttered these words, history tells us that at least 63 self-proclaimed messiahs have led many astray. Ultimately, Jesus’ words will be fulfilled in the anti-christ—the one who hates God and openly opposes His Son, Jesus Christ.
a) Daniel 9:26-27: “After the sixty-two `sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.' In the middle of the `seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. "
b) Revelation 13:1-18: “And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.”
11) Don’t let this trouble you, we know the end. We win!
a) Revelation 20:1-15: “ And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth--Gog and Magog--to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
12) Are we often times guilty of de-throning God? What is the tragic result?
a) Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.”
13) Less we be too quick to judge--I think it is important to remember that they were blind! and they were on the other side of the fulfillment of God’s promises through Jesus Christ. Even the disciples did not fully understand Jesus’ purpose until after His death and resurrection.
a) Acts 1:6-9: “So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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." After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”
14) Earthly kings—God laughs and scoffs at them!
a) Psalms 2:1-12: “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
2. The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. "Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters." The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son ; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter ; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
15) Notice how God speaks of the One He sets in place. How does God address Him?
16) What are we to do to avoid the Son’s anger?
17) Getting back to the text! The Pharisees are beside themselves and exclaim, “We’ve lost! Look, the whole world has gone after him!” What were they so afraid of losing?
a) Matthew 23:1-15: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them `Rabbi.' "But you are not to be called `Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth `father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called `teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”
b) John 12:42b-43: “But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”
18) Were they correct that the whole world had gone after Him?
a) John 1:9-14: “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
b) John 3:19-21: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
John 18:33-40 (Tuesday)
1) We need to go back a little bit here. Pilate had been warned by his wife about Jesus. (Matthew 27:19:“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.") Perhaps this is why he tried to find a human way to cleanse himself of Jesus’ death.
2) “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus puts a little spiritual spin on Pilate’s question, and asked Pilate if he was asking out of his own desire to know the truth. (Who is really on trial here?) Whether we know it or not, this is a question we must all come to grips with. Who is this Man?
a) Matthew 16:15:“"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
3) I hope you have taken the time to consider your own personal response to this question. If not, please speak with me or with one of our lead pastors! Your response is a matter of eternity—life or death!
a) Deuteronomy 30:15-20: “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Chose life!
4) “My kingdom is not of this earth.” Yet! Next to the Messiah, or Savior, the kingdom of God is one of the underlying themes of both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, asking that God’s kingdom come! The gospel of Matthew alone mentions the kingdom of heaven thirty-two times and the kingdom of God four times! Read Revelation 11:15b to see what God’s purpose for earth has always been!
“"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."
5) Pilate asks a question that has probably astounded, and perhaps puzzled many who have read it, “What is truth.”
a) Do you sometimes question what is true about life, or maybe, what is true about yourself? See John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
b) And, John 1:17:“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
c) And, John 3:31-33: "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.”
d) And, John 7:17-18: “If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”
e) And John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
f) And last, but certainly, not least, John 14:6: “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
6) So, describe truth. Can you understand why Jesus answered that those who love truth will recognize what He was saying was true?
John 19:1-6 (Wednesday)
1) The verb for the actions taking here is a repetitive verb—meaning that Jesus was not hit once, was not mocked and spit upon once—but, over and over again.
a) Isaiah 52:13-15: “See, my servant will act wisely ; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him -- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-- so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.”
2) Purple was the most valuable of all dyes and was the color of royalty. A very costly robe for Jesus—fit for a King!
3) A crown of thorns. Galatians 3:13 reminds us that Jesus became a curse for us—so that we would not have to be cursed:“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."”
4) Read about the curse poured out by God upon the serpent, Adam and Eve as the result of sin entering the world in Genesis 3:1-24: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
5) Aren’t you glad Jesus took this curse upon Himself. The final curse, our great enemy, death, is destroyed once and for all when Christ returns! Yeah, God! See 1 Corinthians 15:26: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
6) You know, I sort of felt sorry for Pilate as I read all the different ways he tried to squirm out of crucifying Jesus. He appealed to their sense of justice—they demanded a murderer be released instead. He appealed to their compassion—they had none, even after witnessing how brutally He had been treated. Yes, I sort of felt sorry for poor, old Pilate, that is, until I read Luke 23:6-12: “On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 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 some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends--before this they had been enemies.
7) Pity just went right out the window! You know, he had the power—he let fear of the Jews and Caesar outweigh his own judgment and his own declaration that Jesus was an innocent man. In reality it was fear of loss of power and position, yes, even fear of his own life that motivated Pilate. I guess you can dismiss what he did if, you, like Pilate, fail to recognize Jesus for Who He really is—our King!
8) Considering everything we have studied thus far, who would you say really crucified Jesus?
John 19:12-16 (Thursday)
1) Having a Jewish person tell a Gentile authority that Jesus was not a friend of Caesar is so ironic. The Jews hated being ruled by the Romans! You can really see the desperation here! Then, they say they had no king but Caesar—unbelievable. Here we see the Jewish leaders going right over the heads of Pilate and Caesar and appealing to their loyalty to Caesar, the emperor! Believe me, Pilate knew that to upset someone who actually thought of himself as being a deity, and boy, were you ever asking for trouble! Politics in action! Actually, claiming to have no other king than Caesar was blasphemy for them—the very thing they accused Jesus of! (Remember, day one—question 7!)
John 19:17-22 (Friday)
1) It was common practice for criminals to have a sign placed on the cross over their heads announcing their crime against society. Pilate made a bold move here—and I have to give him credit. “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Here is where God’s wisdom confounds the wise. The mocking sign was actually true! And, no one passing by could fail to interpret it because it was written in the most common languages of the region. Naked, exposed, lifted up—Jesus was about the come into His kingdom!
2) See what Jesus predicted in John 3:14-15: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
a) And, John 12:32: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
3) Can you see how high God’s ways are above our ways? See Isaiah 55:8-9:“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
4) What is the difference in the sign saying, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” and “He said, I am the King of the Jews?” How would you have the sign read?
5) Beloved, I know it appears that man, and man alone, is behind what took place over 2000 years ago. But, go back and look at God’s promise to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
2) In the passages we have studied this week, what we are actually witnessing the battle for earth and man—satan has bruised Jesus’ heel. Oh, but one day, soon, please God, we shall all be witnesses to Jesus bruising satan’s head! See Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” And, Daniel 8:23-25:“In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.”
a) And, Revelation 19:11-21: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great." Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”
9) These rulers, these authorities, these powers—the beast, the anti-christ, the false prophet, satan, will all be destroyed, not by human power, but by the Word of God! This will be no mere military battle. The sword Jesus carries is the mighty Word of God and with It He strikes down the nations! May He live and rule forever! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!



Acts 3:1-6 (Monday)
“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (NIV)
1) In vs. 4, we find Peter commanded the lame man to, “Look at us!” Later, in verse 12, Peter is quick to point out that he and John are mere men, unable to accomplish the works of God by their own power. Was Peter merely trying to gain this man’s attention, or do you suppose there was something this man desperately needed to behold, and if so, what was it? (Read 2 Corinthians 3:18.) “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory...”
2) See Luke 4:16-21. “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus clearly didn’t want His people to misunderstand His mission. In these passages, what does Jesus say was His mission? Was Jesus speaking from a physical or spiritual perspective? Explain.
3) What were His chosen people, the Jews, looking and hoping for? (See 2 Samuel 7:8-13.) ” Now then, tell my servant David, `This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. "`The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” This prophecy finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ Jesus, who forever sits on the throne of his ancestor, King David. (See Luke 1:32.) “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
4) Were the Jews looking at this passage from a physical (material) or spiritual perspective? What was the real promise behind this passage?
5) The Jews had become puffed up—proud—superior in their relationship with God. Yet, all along, Israel had been given a mission to the world around them. (See Exodus 19:6, “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." God again reveals the heart of His intent for His people and their mission in Isaiah 49:6. “"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
6) Now, you can be sure that God’s intent for the world has not changed! As Christ followers, this commission to be a light for the world now falls on us. See Matthew 5:14-16, “"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Also, it is quite interesting to see what Jesus calls us, His church, in Revelation 1:5-6, “…To him (Christ) who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…” Sound familiar?
7) Since we are light, priests and a holy nation to our God and Father, what was Jesus’ command to us just before He returned to the Father? (See Matthew 28:19-20 “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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” and Mark 16:15.) “"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
8) As we study these passages, we can better understand why Peter was so intent in this lame man seeing Jesus. We, too, are surrounded by the lame, the blind—lepers—outcasts. If you are like me, at one point, you were one of them! Take time to read Matthew 5:1-2, the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
a) Max Lucado, in his book, “The Applause of Heaven,” has such great insights into those verses! For instance,
i) “The poor in spirit.” He says these “are the people who are aware of their spiritual crisis. Their options are gone. They have long since stopped demanding justice; they are pleading for mercy.” They don’t brag, they beg…They have seen how holy God is and how sinful they are…”
ii) “Blessed are those who mourn...” “To mourn for your sins is a natural outflow of poverty of spirit…Many deny their weaknesses. Many know they are wrong, yet pretend they are right. As a result, they never taste the exquisite sorrow of repentance. Of all the paths to joy, this one has to be the strangest. True blessedness, Jesus says, begins with deep sadness. Blessed are those who know they are in trouble and have enough sense to admit it.”
iii) “Blessed are the meek…” “God dances among the ordinary [and sometimes, that dance is a waltz.] His most powerful tools are the simplest. [God does the most amazing things with stubborn hearts and stiff-necked people. So you know He can do something with the common.] Max points out that “you can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees.”
iv) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” “Admission of thirst doesn’t come easy for us. False fountains pacify our cravings with sugary swallows of pleasure. But there comes a time when pleasure doesn’t satisfy. There comes a dark hour in every life when the world caves in and we are left trapped in the rubble of reality, parched and dying. Some would rather die than admit it. Others admit it and escape death. “God, I need help.” So, the thirsty come. A ragged lot we are, bound together by broken dreams and collapsed promises. Fortunes that were never made. Families that were never built. Promises that were never kept. Wide-eyed children trapped in the basement of our own failures. And we are thirsty…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Righteousness. That’s it. That’s what we are thirsty for. We’re thirst for a clean conscience. We crave a clean slate. We yearn for a fresh start. We pray for a hand which will enter the dark cavern of our world and do for us the one thing we can’t do for ourselves—make us right again….God, I’m so thirsty,” we pray. “It is my blood, the blood of the new agreement,” Jesus stated, “shed to set many free from their sins.” And the hand was pierced, and the blood was poured, and the children are saved.”
v) “Blessed are the merciful…” “The merciful, says Jesus, are shown mercy. They witness grace. They are blessed because they are testimonies to a greater goodness. Forgiving others allows us to see how God has forgiven us. The dynamic of giving grace is the key to understanding grace, for it is when we forgive others than we begin to feel what God feels…for the one who tastes God’s grace and then gives it to others, the reward is blessed liberation. The prison door is thrown open and the prisoner set free is yourself…The next time you see or think of the one who broke your heart, look twice. As you look…look also for His face—the face of the One who forgave you. Look into the eyes of the King who wept when you pleaded for mercy. Look into the face of the Father who gave you grace when no one else gave you a chance. Find the face of the God who forgives in the face of your enemy. And then, because God has forgiven you more than you’ll ever be called on to forgive in another, set your enemy—and yourself—free. And allow the hole in your heart to heal.”
vi) “Blessed are the pure in heart…” “The heart is the center of the spiritual life. If the fruit of a tree is bad, you don’t try to fix the fruit; you treat the roots. And if a person’s actions are evil, it’s not enough to change habits, you have to go deeper. You have to go to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of the heart. That is why the state of the heart is so critical…Note the order of this beatitude; first, purify the heart, then you will see God. Clean the refinery, and the result will be a pure product. We usually reverse the order. We try to change the inside by altering the outside. [So, how do we change our hearts? You have to realize that Jesus is building precept upon precept in the Beatitudes. First, you must realize your spiritual poverty, then come to a point of spiritual sorrow or mourning, then these work in you so that you become meek and gentle, like Jesus.] “Then comes mercy. The more you receive, the more you give. You find it easier to give grace because you realize you have been given so much. What has been done to you is nothing compared to what you did to God. For the first time in your life, you have found a permanent joy, a joy that is not dependent upon your whims and actions. It’s a joy from God, a joy no one can take away from you. A sacred delight is placed in your heart. It is sacred because only God can grant it. It is a delight because you would never expect it. And though your heart isn’t perfect, it isn’t rotten. And though you aren’t invincible, at least you’re plugged in. And you can bet that he who made you knows just how to purify you-from the inside out.”
vii) “Blessed are the peacemakers…” “Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness. The principle for peace is the same as the principle for crops: Never underestimate the power of a seed. How good are you at sowing seeds of peace? You may not be called on to ward off international conflict, but you will have opportunities to do something more vital: to bring inner peace to troubled hearts…Want to see a miracle? Plant a word of love heartdeep in a person’s life. Nurture it with a smile and a prayer, and watch what happens…Sowing seeds of peace is like sowing beans. You don’t know why it works, you just know it does. Seeds are planted, and topsoils of hurt are shoved away. Don’t forget the principle. Never underestimate the power of a seed.”
viii) “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness…” “The good is murdered while the bad smirk. Is this how God rewards his anointed? Is this how He honors His faithful? Is this how God crowns His chosen? [It’s not the injustices of the world, or even death, it is the problem of unmet expectations—that we are in trouble and Jesus is conducting business as usual—and as far as we know, He’s doing it somewhere else! Our circumstances often change, but the question doesn’t. This question has been asked by believer and non-believer alike. “Anytime a person takes a step in the right direction, only to have her feet knocked out from under her, anytime a person does a good deed, but suffers evil results, anytime a person takes a stand, only to end up flat on his face…the questions fall like rain…Does God sometimes sit on his hands? Does God sometimes choose to do nothing? Does God sometimes opt for silence even when [we’re] screaming [our[ loudest? God’s silence! Dear one, it isn’t that God is silent, it’s that we’ve been listening for the wrong answer! Too often, we ask God to solve the temporary, while God is busy building upon the eternal! “Does that mean that Jesus has no regard for injustice? No. He cares about persecutions. He cares about inequities and hunger and prejudice. And He knows the meaning of the phrase, ‘It’s just not right.’” And, it wasn’t right that the Son of God was forced to hear the silence of God. It wasn’t right, but it happened. For while Jesus was on the cross, God did not sit on his hands. He did turn his back. He did ignore the screams of the innocent. Was it right? No. What is fair? No. Was it love? Yes. In a world of injustice. God once and for all tipped the scales in the favor of hope. And he did it by sitting on his hands so that we could know the kingdom of God.”
9) Wow! Have you ever looked at the Beatitudes from this perspective? Can you see how God is always focused on our spiritual welfare—from an eternal perspective?
10) Back to the story. The lame man, for years, had come to this spot. The Beautiful gate was most probably the Eastern gate that led directly into the Temple—a place of worship and prayer. Did he seek anyone’s prayers? Had he dared to enter in and humbly approach God personally for his healing? Had he made any sacrifices—praise offerings? Scripture doesn’t give us that information, but it is clear that this man had become content—compliance—seeming to settle for a few small coins, handed out from time to time by the pious people of his generation. Silver and gold. Worldly treasures. Have you ever settled? Oh, sister, dare to be bold! (See Hebrews 4:16.) “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
11) Believe it or not, not many of us are gifted by the Holy Spirit with the ability to heal or raise up the dead. But, like Peter, what is it that you do have to share? (vs. 6)
12) You’re a believer. Have you ever experienced someone, out of the blue, coming up to you and spilling out their life story? or telling you about some tragic event in their life? What do you think they see that is an irresistible draw? Does this scare you to death or are you willing to “share what you have?”
Acts 3:7-11 (Tuesday)
“Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.
8. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
9. When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
10. they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
11. While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade.” (NIV)
1) Coming face to face with Jesus Christ demands some sort of response. We are either going to turn our backs on him (See Mark 8:38,) “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."or we will respond like this man—become spiritually healed and give praise and honor to our God! Now, I realize that as Baptists we can be quite reserved. But, get real! How reserved do you honestly think we are going to be when we come face to face with our Savior in heaven? So, don’t be afraid to lift up holy hands and shout out a big hallelujah (even if you can only do it in the shower!) So, let me encourage you—turn up the praise music and let the praise out!
2) Take special note here, the people who knew this man healed saw an immediate change. Can people around you see the change or changes Jesus has made in your life? I can only tell you my experience, but like this man, people were astounded and in awe at the work of Christ in my life! Believe me, so was I! So, be that light that God intends us to be and shine!
Acts 3:12-16 (Wednesday)
“When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.”
1) Peter didn’t miss a beat! He seizes upon yet another opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus! Peter quickly and rightly points away from himself and John to the Risen Savior. Are you looking for every opportunity to share Christ? Jesus tells us in John 4:35 to “…open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Read Isaiah 43:10-11 and 2 Corinthians 5:20) Remember, we are on mission! “You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen…” In Isaiah, God starts out being collective—speaking to all his children, but notice how He switches midstream and makes this a personal statement to all of us individually!
a) “We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
2) These passages in the book of Acts take place just a few years after Christ’s resurrection. Many of the people Peter was speaking to may well have been eyewitnesses to all the events that had preceded His death and you can be sure they had at least heard of his resurrection. Since we obviously can’t lay claim to actual sight, what can you share with someone to prove that He is real, alive and lives through you?
3) Peter makes it clear that it is belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that healed the lame man—no other! (See Acts 4:12) “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
4) If you think it is possible to do anything for God in your own name, or in your own strength and power, read Acts 19:13-16. “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” These men had no personal relationship with Christ—therefore, they could not rely on His authority to cast out these spirits. Not a good idea!
Acts 3:17-21 (Thursday)
“Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”
1) Murder by ignorance! God’s chosen people, who lived and breathed the letter of the Law and they didn’t recognize their Messiah! Read Psalm 22, Isaiah 50:6 and Isaiah 53, which was written hundreds of years before Christ.
a) Psalm 22—“ My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him-- may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him-- those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn-- for he has done it.
b) Isaiah 50:6—“ I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.”
c) Isaiah 53—“ Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
2) As we learned earlier, the Jews were looking for a new world system and a ruler who would deliver them from the oppression of the Roman government. They were looking for health, prosperity and peace on earth! They could not see deeper to the sins of their own souls and how God wanted to heal, rebuild and restore, not a worldly kingdom, but their hearts—to prepare them for their real kingdom—heaven! They had taken portions of scripture and could not see the overall picture God was painting for them. Again, it’s all about perspective and God’s perspective is always eternal! We must be careful in interpreting God’s Word. See 2 Peter 1:20-21. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
3) If you feel free, share how God has rebuilt, restored and healed your broken, captive life. Tell about a time you have experienced God’s “wonderful…refreshment.”
Acts 3:22-26 (Friday)
“For Moses said, `The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.' "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, `Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” (NIV)
1) We really can’t be too harsh in our judgment of God’s chosen people not fully grasping God’s plan of redemption. A prophet was given a prophecy here, another prophet was given a prophecy there. Judgment and salvation. Even they didn’t understand fully what they were prophesizing! 1 Peter 1:10-12 tells us that the prophets and yes, even the angels longed to see the full picture: “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”
2) Can you think of some ways that Jesus, though far greater, was much like the prophet Moses? Here are some that came to mind. 1) Jesus, the King, leaves the riches of heaven; Moses, a prince, left riches of Egypt 2) Jesus was adopted by Joseph, not his real son; Moses was adopted into Pharaoh’s family, not a real son. 3) Jesus is the Great Shepherd; Moses escapes Egypt and becomes a shepherd; 4) Moses was the leader of the Hebrew children and leads them out of slavery and bondage in Egypt and takes them the physical promise land; Jesus is our King and leads us out sin and death (spiritual Egypt) and takes us into His heavenly kingdom—the real Promise Land. 5) Moses was lead by the Glory of God—a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day; Jesus was filled and moved by the Spirit of the Living God—and actually, He was God! Colossians 2:9. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…”
3) The Jews are heirs to God’s covenant promises. (See Romans 9:3-5.) “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” That is why the good news was first to be preached in all of Judea, then to the uttermost parts of the world. As Gentile believers how are we included in these precious promises? (See Romans 11:15-23. Who is the root? Also, see Ephesians 1:4-6. Acts 3:25, Romans 8:17 and finally, see Galatians 3:29.
a) Romans 11:15—“For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.”
b) Ephesian 1:4-6—“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will..”
c) Acts 3:25—“And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, `Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.”
d) Romans 8:17—“Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
e) Galatians 3:29—“ If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
4) What does Acts 10:34-35 tell us? “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right…” And, Romans 10:12-13? “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."



Luke 10:25-28 Monday
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" He answered: "`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' " "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live.” (NIV)
1) These scriptures tell us that an “expert” in the law came to test Jesus. The entire Jewish law included the 10 commandments given by God, the coordinating requirements laid out by Moses, as well as hundreds of unnecessary oral or unwritten laws that were arbitrarily added by the religious leaders over a period of time. These additional requirements were referred to as the “traditions of the elders.” What does Romans 3:20, Romans 4:15 and Romans 7:14 reveal about the law and our ability to fulfill it’s requirements?
2) On his own, was this “expert” able to live up to the requirements of the law, even when they were broken down to their simplest yet ultimate interpretation, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.’” See Romans 8:1-4 and Galatians 5:16.
3) In the two above verses we find love being introduced as the theme of the entire Bible. What was necessary for this “expert” to do as Christ commanded, “Do this and you will live!” See John 3:3-6.
4) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Do you love yourself? What are some of the ways your express this love to yourself?
5) The seeming paradox in showing this same kind of love to others is that we must “die to self.” See Romans 6:6-12, 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 and Galatians 2:20.
6) Everyone who came upon the wounded traveler “saw” him. Yet, the Samaritan man saw him and felt deep pity! The word pity is the same word used as compassion in the King James Version. The word compassion is literally translated, “to be moved with sympathy from the deepest part of your bowels.” Like the religious leaders who passed by this man, how often do we as Christians pass by others, “see” their needs, yet are never moved to this gut level of compassion?
7) What are some of the daily circumstances that influence us and cause us to “pass over to the other side” when confronted with the needs of others?
8) Let’s read the command of Jesus in Matthew 5:40-44. How did the Samaritan “go the extra mile?”
9) The Samaritan man was of mixed Jewish descent (Jewish and Assyrian) and therefore was looked upon as being inferior to those with “pure” Jewish breeding. Samaritans were often referred to as “dogs.” Flash forward to modern times. Can you think of any instance(s) when prejudice is used as an excuse to overlook someone’s need?
10) Is serving God always convenient? Safe?
1 John 3:14-20
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (NIV)
1) Ouch! Not loving your Christian brothers and sisters is murder? Explain.
2) Verse 17 again stresses our responsibility to “see” the needs of others—and seeing, to take action! Read James 2:15-17.
3) There are so many people hurting and in need. We can’t possibly meet every need. Yet, there is one thing we can always do. What is that? Read Acts 12 to see just how powerful our prayers can be!

1 John 4:7-12
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
1) Real love acts first! (1 John 4:19). Back to Luke--there is a little bit of Jesus in that good Samaritan! Jesus “saw” our need. Romans 5:8 shows to what extent Jesus was willing to go to bring us back to the Father. How did he respond to our need? Would you say Jesus went the “extra mile”?



Jeremiah 19:3-6
“…and say, `Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal--something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.” (NIV)
1) Does anyone or any nation ever get away with sin? Read Job 9:15; Job 21:22; Psalms 9:8; Psalms 110:1-6.
2) List the specific sins that God's people were committing that would bring on such swift and terrible judgment.
3) List the moral equivalent of these sins in today's society.
4) God promises to turn the place called Topheth which means "fireplace" (this is the place where the Israelites became guilty of sacrificing their children to foreign gods--burning them alive) to the Valley of Slaughter--a place of worse judgment. The horror that Jeremiah predicted actually took place during two seizes--by the Babylonians, under rule of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. and by Titus in 70 A.D. when the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem (See Jesus' prediction in Matthew 24:1-2). During the seize of the Babylonians the people actually became cannibals, eating their own children because the food supply was so scarce. It seems that God judgment brought a worse sin upon their souls. You can be sure that this prophecy of God's judgment made "the ears ring of those who heard it!" Have you witnessed evidence of this same type of judgment taking place in the world today?
Jeremiah 33:6-9
“Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.” (NIV)
1) Above we see where God has rendered judgment. Yet, here, just a few chapters later, God promises to restore and forgive His people. What does this reveal to you of the heart of God? Is there any sin too great that God cannot forgive?
2) What part was required by Israel to receive this gift of God's grace. How does this encourage us today?
Romans 8:1-4
1) “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”
1) No condemnation in Christ Jesus! Yeah! What was the requirement of the law of Moses and why could the law not save us?
2) When did God put into effect His plan to save us? (See Revelation 13:8).
3) Why do you suppose that while God forgives us of all our sins, He sometimes allows us to suffer the consequences of our sin?
Exodus 1:15-20
“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?" The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive." So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (NIV)
1) What was Pharaoh's intent in trying to kill off the Hebrew boy babies? Read Genesis 3:15. This is God's promise to Adam and Eve of a coming Savior. With that in mind, who do you think was really behind Pharaoh's decision and for what purpose?
2) Although Pharaoh was very powerful and quite ruthless, who does Scripture clearly show that the midwives feared.
3) What is meant by the word "feared?"
4) How does our fear of the Almighty motivate us to stand against the evil in this world?
Jeremiah 1:4-8
“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, `I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD” (NIV)
1) God reveals to Jeremiah that He has always known him and that He has always had a plan for his life, even before he was born. Were these words meant just for Jeremiah or is God screaming these words out to all human life, including your own. How do you respond to the fact that God knows you? Oh, I pray that you realize how very precious you are in His sight!
2) What do these verses tell us about how God values human life?
3) Verse 8 gives us a precious promise. What is it? You will find this promise repeated over and over in Scripture. "I will never leave you nor forsake you!" How are these words meant to encourage us? Who do these words point us to and away from? Oh, remember Peter in Mathew 14:25-31!