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LENTEN DEVOTION – 2017
March 19, 2017 at 11:02 pm #29547
A LONE VOICEAnd he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. … (Luke 18:38-39a).Read Luke 18:35-43Jesus is approaching Jericho. It’s one of His last stops before Jerusalem. Along the road sits a blind man begging. Hearing a loud commotion passing by, he asks what’s going on. Someone from the crowd answers, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
Immediately, the beggar begins shouting at the top of his lungs. He knows Jesus is somewhere in that crowd, which is shuffling past him. But unlike the stranger from the crowd he doesn’t call Him “Jesus the Nazarene.” Instead, he calls him, “Jesus, Son of David.” He is convinced that Jesus is the promised Messiah, David’s Son.
Jesus indeed is the King marching on to save His people from their enemies. Some in the crowd try to silence the blind man, but he shouts all the louder to get Jesus’ attention. That is the character of faith: the more people and circumstances rise up to silence us, the louder we cry for our Lord to be merciful to us.
We might expect Jesus to be so preoccupied with His approaching death that He wouldn’t notice a lone voice, crying out to Him in the midst of the clamor of the crowd. But His ears are attuned to cries for mercy from His faithful ones. Now that He has accomplished His mission and won complete forgiveness, we can be confident He hears our cries for mercy and pity too.The man is blind no longer. He rises and follows Jesus on His way.THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, even as You were journeying toward Your bitter death, Your ears were wide open to the pleas of the blind man. Give me confidence that You hear my prayers for mercy too. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.March 19, 2017 at 11:07 pm #29548
WHERE’S MY HOST… “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5b).Read Luke 19:1-10Jesus’ final week is just a few days away. He has come to Jericho to spend the night, but His host is not home. So Jesus passes through town to find him.
Zacchaeus is a chief tax collector and extremely wealthy. But he left his tax office when he heard Jesus had come to town. He knew Jesus’ reputation – while the Jews and their leaders despised tax collectors as traitors and thieves – Jesus was known as a friend to tax collectors. Rushing to the far edge of town, he climbed a tree to see the Lord.
Jesus comes right up to that spot, stops, and looks up into the tree. Calling Zacchaeus by name, He tells him to come down quickly. Jesus wants to spend this night in his house.Zacchaeus scurries down and receives Jesus with great joy. The crowd hears this and is terribly scandalized. How could Jesus choose to stay in the home of a notorious sinner? What they didn’t know is that Jesus had already begun to change Zacchaeus’ heart. The chief tax collector was repenting of his sins and planning to make amends for his past wrongdoings.Jesus points out that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham just as are those in the crowd. True children of Abraham share Abraham’s faith in God’s promise to send the Christ or Messiah. Zacchaeus knew Jesus had given him a great honor by staying in his house. But did he know His Lord had chosen to spend one of the last precious nights He had on earth with him?THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, with amazing grace, You sought out the despised chief tax collector Zacchaeus and honored him by staying at His house that night. Help us appreciate the honor You give us, by promising to remain with us always. Amen.March 22, 2017 at 9:31 am #29656
“NOT YET…BUT SOON”(Jesus said) “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us'” (Luke 19:14).Read Luke 19:11-27Jesus’ choice to stay with the chief tax collector Zacchaeus divides the crowd. Some are upset Jesus is associating with such an open sinner. Others think God’s kingdom will appear at once when He reaches the Jewish capital Jerusalem. Jesus tells a parable that answers both ideas.
The people have no trouble picturing His story of a nobleman traveling to a distant country to have himself proclaimed king. That was the way the Roman Empire worked. Herod the Great left the land of Palestine and travelled to Rome before Emperor Augustus proclaimed him king. Only then could he return to rule.Jesus pictures Himself as that nobleman – the great Son of David and Son of God. Instead of beginning His reign when He enters Jerusalem, He will be murdered by His enemies. But after His resurrection He will leave the earth, ascending into heaven where the Father will proclaim Him King. Then on the Last Day – and not until that Day – Jesus will return to reward His faithful servants and establish His kingdom on the new earth.
Now Jesus turns to His enemies. He has shown great patience, humility, grace, mercy and love toward them, but they have hated Him, without cause. He warns that the time of judgment is coming. He will return with His angel armies to capture His enemies and slaughter them.To our ears that judgment sounds harsh. But Christ your King has given you fair warning. If you will not bow your knee to Him in faith, you will forfeit your life and suffer eternally in hell.THE PRAYER: Almighty God, You have established Your Son as the Ruler of all things in heaven and on earth. Break through my rebellious heart that I may love Him and serve Him now and through all eternity. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.March 22, 2017 at 9:35 am #29657
DAY TWENTY ONE
THE KING ENTERS… the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen (Luke 19:37b).
Read Luke 19:28-38Jesus has travelled to Jerusalem many times in His life, but this trip will be the last time. Every other time He walked through its gates, but not this time. Today, He rides into the city as Jerusalem’s King, its Messiah. But the King of kings does not ride a splendid war horse, instead He sends His disciples to bring Him a humble donkey, a lowly beast of burden. This animal fits Jesus’ entire earthly life. He came as the meek, humble Baby born in Bethlehem’s manger; He will lay down His life in humility on the cross.
The crowds are caught up in excitement. They shout “Blessed is the King who comes in the Name of the Lord.” The term “blessed” points to the Father, who chose this King and continues to bless Him. Even though He rides a humble donkey, Jesus enters Jerusalem as our King, coming to conquer our great enemies-Satan, sin, death and hell.
The crowds add “peace in heaven and glory in the highest,” the same words the angels shared with the shepherds at Jesus’ birth. Peace in heaven celebrates God’s peace coming down upon the earth through the Messiah. His victory brings praise to God from His angels in heaven and from all of us who have been saved by His mighty Son.
Jesus accepts this praise sweeping through the crowds, because it is right and true. He is the King riding into Jerusalem to prepare to fight to the death to defend His people. In a few days, He will stagger out through the city gates, carrying His cross to the battlefield.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, our great conquering King, You rode into Jerusalem to wage war for Your people. Receive our thanksgiving for the victory You won through Your suffering, death and resurrection. Amen.March 22, 2017 at 9:44 am #29658
DAY TWENTY TWO
TEARS FOR THE HOLY CITYAnd some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:39-40).Read Luke 19:39-44Jesus enters Jerusalem with a large crowd joyfully singing His praises. Some Pharisees come out of Jerusalem and urge Jesus to silence His supporters. But Jesus refuses; this King will have His rightful praise. Even if the people remain silent, the stones themselves will cry out.
In a few days, the Pharisees will have their way. These praises will fall silent as the crowds begin shouting, “Crucify, crucify Him!” Reaching the ridge of Jerusalem, Jesus begins sobbing. If only the city realized how easily it could escape disaster. All its citizens have to do is turn from their wrongs and trust in Jesus. Woefully, that great peace is hidden from their eyes.
Jesus’ tears flow because His all-knowing eyes see what will happen here in 40 years. He sees the Roman legions arriving, encircling the city, and cutting down the trees to build their siege weapons. He sees violence and disease breaking out through the doomed metropolis. He sees starvation and plague ravaging those who remain. He sees the Romans breaking through the city walls and savagely attacking the last defenders at the temple walls. He sees the temple in flames and the defenders being slaughtered, as they turn from their Roman attackers in a desperate attempt to extinguish the fires. He sees the temple reduced to rubble, with not one stone left upon another.
And He weeps bitterly because all this is so needless. If only they would recognize God graciously visiting them through His Son.THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Your heart broke at the senseless devastation Jerusalem would suffer because of its foolish unbelief. Guard my heart and mind against unbelief, so I may live with You in heaven, and not suffer eternally in hell. Amen.March 23, 2017 at 5:14 pm #29774
DAY TWENTY THREE
TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE
And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold (Luke 19:45).Read Luke 19:45-48The Jerusalem temple was a reminder of God’s presence with His people, and animal sacrifices were a central component of the worship there. As the worshipper laid his hands on the animal’s head and confessed his sins, God transferred his guilt to the animal, which was put to death in his place. All these sacrifices pointed ahead to Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who would take our place and be put to death for the sins of the whole world.
Since Jewish pilgrims travelled great distances for the Passover feast, they were unable to bring along their own sacrificial animals. Jesus has no problem with sacrificial animals being available for sale or with moneychangers converting foreign currency into temple currency. His problem is where those animals were being sold – in the courtyards of the temple.
In holy wrath, Jesus drives all of them out. He quotes Isaiah, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers'” (Matthew 21:13; see Isaiah 56:7). It is bad enough to make themselves robbers by selling the sacrificial animals at unreasonable prices. But even worse, they carry on their trade in the very courtyard of the temple, where worshippers are trying to pray to God amidst all these distractions.
The Jewish leaders are infuriated that Jesus would challenge their authority and interfere with their trade. But they cannot destroy Him because the great crowds of pilgrims are hanging on His words. As we’ll see in the coming days, His teachings will grow more pointed, and His popularity will continue to increase.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son drove out all distractions from Your temple courts. Clear my mind of all distractions that I may worship You with all my heart, mind and soul. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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