Daily Bible Reading

Fulfilled

When I make a promise, to the best of my ability, I try to keep it. When someone else makes a promise for me, depending on what it is, I try to keep that, too. If a complete stranger says I’m going to do something, I’m not likely to do it—unless I want to or already planned on doing so.

Jesus came to earth and fulfilled every promise made about him—whether he’d met the person who made it or not. Some things just happened the way they’d been foretold centuries before.

So they said, “Let’s not tear it but throw dice to see who gets it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my clothes among themselves and threw dice for my robe.” So that is what they did.

John 19:24 (NLT)

Others made sure to record fulfilled prophecies so that we would know and recognise what had taken place.

This report is from and eye-witness giving and accurate account; it is presented so that you can also believe.

John 19:35 (NLT)

And yet others, Jesus made sure he fulfilled. Even on the cross after being whipped and beaten and nailed to a tree, Jesus knew there were a few things he still had to do so that things strangers had said about him would come to pass.

Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures, he said, “I am thirsty.”

John 19:28 (NLT)

That is the Jesus we know. The Jesus we serve. The Jesus we love. The man who, while hanging on the cross near the point of death, would make a request in order to fulfill words that had been spoken centuries before. All so that we would know who he truly was.

There was no benefit to Jesus in stating his thirst. All he got for it was a taste of vinegar. But what we get is one more prophecy fulfilled amongst hundreds of others that only Jesus could fulfill. We get to see the impossibility of one man fulfilling all those words become possible. Jesus not only fulfilled prophecy in his words and action, he is the fulfillment of promise.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 1-2, John 19:23-42

Daily Bible Reading

I lay it down

We always talk about how Jesus was killed. He was murdered. He was put to death. But was he really?

When Jesus was finally sentenced to being flogged and crucified, the religious leaders thought they got the last laugh. They got what they wanted. The man who threatened their entire way of life would die. They would have him killed.

Read the scriptures again. Yes, Jesus was sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus was flogged. He was crucified. But was he actually murdered? Was he really put to death?

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 (NLT)

He shouted. As he hung on the cross in unbearable pain for crimes he did not commit, he shouted. He raised his voice so every ear in the vicinity could hear that he would not be put to death. He gave his life of his own volition.

How angry the Jewish leaders must have been. In the moment when they expected to finally be able to breathe that sigh of relief, the man they wanted to have killed made sure everyone knew his life was given willingly. And Jesus had to do so.

The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again. No one can take my life from me. I lay it down voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it up again. For my Father has given me this command.

John 10:17-18 (NLT)

By proclaiming with his last breath that he was giving up his life into God’s hands, Jesus was fulfilling his own words. Those words took all power away from the men who put him on the cross. Little did they know that, in their anger and indignance, they played right into the plan of God. By putting Jesus on the cross, they fulfilled prophecy and gave the plan of salvation another big push toward fulfillment.

The next time you consider the account of the cross, keep in mind that, while Jesus died, he was not put to death. He laid down his life voluntarily. For me. For you.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 23:39-56 

Daily Bible Reading

They don’t know

If you were sentenced to death for a crime that you didn’t commit, how would you be acting? Would you go gracefully to the gallows or electric chair or, with every breath, scream out your innocence? Would you blame the system and your captors or would you calmly accept your fate?

It’s difficult to accept any sort of punishment or retribution for wrongdoing when you know you’re innocent of the crime. Even more so to do it with grace and dignity. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.

He’d already been flogged and was carrying the beam of the cross where he would soon be nailed. People were yelling at him, calling out to him, and crying over him. He stops and tells them not to cry for him. When he finally makes it to The Skull, his hands and feet are pierced through and the cross is dropped into place.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34a (NLT)

Forgive them. Forgive them. Forgive them?! Even as he neared his final moments, Jesus somehow managed to keep his eyes on the prize. He knew he was innocent. He knew that the soldiers had been forced to do this to him. He knew that they, though not entirely innocent, deserved grace and forgiveness.

They may have known that they were putting an innocent man to death, but what they didn’t know is that they had a literal hand in the plan of salvation. The hands that wielded the hammers that pounded the nails through Jesus’ flesh were God-ordained. Without the callous men who held no qualms over killing an innocent man, Jesus never would have died. Never would have overcome death. Never would have risen. Never would be able to save the world.

Just because someone doesn’t know God or know what they’re doing doesn’t mean that their actions cannot be used of Him.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 6-7, Luke 23:27-38

Daily Bible Reading

Pilate project

I don’t like reading the account of Jesus’ death. I find it difficult to take every time I read it. Perhaps that’s a good thing. If I could breeze through the crucifixion of Christ, I don’t believe I would have the right to call myself by his name.

I don’t believe there was a person Jesus came across that did not have, at the very least, the opportunity to change. Even knowing his death was near, Jesus’ ministry was still active. Following his betrayal by Judas, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate—the Roman leader in Jerusalem at the time.

Pilate was a hard and cruel man. Luke 13:1 speaks of how Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. Strike one against Jesus—he was from Galilee. Pilate also had symbols that would offend the Jews imprinted on the coins he sent into circulation. Strike two—Jesus was a Jew. When he found out that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod as Galilee was under his jurisdiction. Pilate and Herod were enemies. Strike three. Pilate’s tenure in Jerusalem ended when he was called back to Rome after massacring a group of Samaritans. He was just plain mean. There was nothing in this situation that would benefit Jesus.

And yet.

Herod could find no fault in Jesus so he sent him back to Pilate. Again, Pilate could not find Jesus guilty of any crime that would merit punishment by death. To try to appease the people, he offered to have Jesus flogged. But that wasn’t enough for the crowd. Three times Pilate told the crowd there was no reason to sentence Jesus to death. Three. That number sounds familiar…

…poetical for the moment when something is finished, completed, and perfected.

(N. Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 1950, p. 384, n. 4)

After denying the crowd’s request three times (someone else had recently denied something three times… [Luke 22:54-62]), Pilate gave in. By waiting as long as he did to sentence Jesus, he went against his own track record. I’m sure that those who brought Jesus to him thought it would be an easy task to convince Pilate to kill a Jew from Galilee.

Having spent just hours in Jesus’ presence, it could be concluded that Pilate was changed. Not only did he go against his own history of violence and cruelty, but he befriended his enemy, Herod.

For the rest of his life, I wonder how much Pilate was haunted by his actions against Jesus that day. Did he think about it often or did he try to wipe it from his memory? Was there any remorse? Did he ever understand the role he played in the greatest plan of all time? Did he know that his command to have Jesus killed would work to finish, complete, and perfect salvation for all?

If God could use even the hardest man to accomplish His will, surely there is hope for the rest of us.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 3-5, Luke 23:1-26

Daily Bible Reading

Arrival

Imagine you’ve been expecting someone. You’ve been waiting for a long time. You’ve never actually met this person, but you think you know what to expect. So you wait. And you keep waiting.

What if this person isn’t quite what you expected? What if, because they’re not what you were waiting for, you ignore all the signs that point to their arrival? What if someone you don’t trust points that person out to you? Do you believe them?

Jesus’ arrival was long-expected. The people of Israel had been waiting centuries for Him to show up. You’d think that they’d all be watching for the signs that would point to Him. You’d think that they’d know it when He showed up in their towns. You’d think that people would go on ahead shouting that the Messiah had finally come!

The last thing you’d expect would be that the demons would be the one proclaiming His power. But that’s exactly what happened.

Once when he as in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon began shouting at Jesus, “Go away! Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God.”

Luke 4:33-34 (NLT)

Some were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But because they knew he was the Messiah, he stopped them and told them to be silent.

Luke 4:41 (NLT)

The people of Israel had become complacent. They’d ignored the signs of the coming Messiah. They were thrilled that there was a man who could heal and cast out demons, but they didn’t recognise Jesus for who He truly was. It was the demons who knew exactly who Jesus was and why He had come. They’d had the run of the place for centuries, but that was all about to stop.

Jesus had arrived. He had the power to cast them down and they knew it.

Now we have the same power. Our King has come. He has put His power in us. Demons should hear the power of Christ in our words and flee. Unlike the Jews, we don’t have to wait. Sickness, disease, demons, death should all flee because we have arrived.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 14-15, Luke 4:33-44

Daily Bible Reading

Very hungry

Have you ever gone grocery shopping hungry? Do you then come home and, as you begin to put your purchases away wonder how on earth you came home with all those extra items?

Temptation is a tricky thing. We skip one meal and suddenly our cupboards are full of cookies and chips. In Luke 4, Jesus went on forty days without food. I think I’d be tempted to buy an entire farm by that point.

But Jesus taking off into the wilderness wasn’t a whim. It wasn’t an act of being out and about and suddenly realising that you need to pick up a few things on your way home.

Now Jesus, full of [and in perfect communication with] the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they ended, He was hungry.

Luke 4:1-2 (AMP)

When I think about this account, I tend to imagine that Jesus had been wandering alone for forty days and then the devil shows up. But if you read the verse, there is a strong indication that the devil was there the whole time. For forty days, Jesus resisted the devil. For four minutes, I’m not able to resist a chocolate bar. Or a bag of chips. Or that pepperoni stick. Snack foods are so trivial and it goes to show just how much Jesus was able to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit when he was tempted with the thought of bread or authority over all the kingdoms of the earth.

If you take anything from this passage (aside from a hankering for some munchies), think about the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus went into the desert right after being baptised. Right after the Holy Spirit had descended upon him and God spoke from heaven claiming Jesus as His Son. He didn’t go around touting this fact. He went off by himself to be proven.

I believe that, aside from His death and resurrection, this is one of Jesus’ greatest acts. What about the miracles? Sorcerers and magicians were able to perform similar feats (I am in no way making light of the incredible things Jesus did). But no one else was able to stand up in the face of the devil and say, no. Miracles came easy. Resisting temptation did not.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 11-13, Luke 4:1-32