Devotional: The Road to the Cross-Part Four

How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! Psalms 32:1 (HCSB)

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When my kids were young, we were staying with my family in a cabin at a State Park. My youngest brother and his wife were there with my parents. The kids were sitting around the coffee table playing a game.

My youngest was about two at the time. While he was sitting in the chair, he was tilting it forward. I thought to myself, I should have him put it down. But I didn’t. Instead, I thought it would be fine.

In the next instant, the chair flipped out from under him. His chin hit the table and cut open. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the hospital getting stitches.

I felt terrible. If I had just had him put his chair down flat when I had thought to, it would never have happened. But it was too late to take back what I hadn’t done.

Have you ever done something and then wished you hadn’t done it? I think one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, did.

Peter was a close friend of Jesus. Along with his brother, he was the first to be called to Jesus’ ministry. Weeks before Jesus’ death, Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. When Jesus began to predict His death, Peter felt he could chastise Him for it.

Yet in the last twenty-four hours of Jesus’ death, what does Peter do? He denies ever knowing Jesus, not just one time, but three. But here is the kicker: Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed twice.

The account of Peter’s denial is recounted in all four Gospels: Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62, John 18:15-18, and 25-27. Reading all four gives you four different points of view. It’s like watching a show from different angles. I’ll try to put it all in one point of view.

When Jesus was arrested they brought Him to the high priest. Peter and John followed at a distance. When they arrived, John went inside because he was an acquaintance of the high priest. When he realized Peter was still outside, he went back out and brought him in.

It was cold, so the temple police had started a fire in the courtyard. While Peter stood warming himself, the slave girl, who was the doorkeeper, asked him if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter said, “Woman I am not!” A rooster crowed.

Peter continued to warm himself because he wanted to see what was happening with Jesus. They kept looking at him and asked him again if he was a disciple. Peter denied it a second time.

They noticed his accent and told him he must be one of Jesus’ disciples because he was a Galilean. Peter not only denied it but did it with curses and swearing.

The rooster crowed a second time. Jesus looked into Peter’s eyes. Then Peter remembered what Jesus said. He went out and cried.

I can’t imagine the emotions going through him. All this time, he believed himself a friend of Jesus only to turn his back on Him. The wonderful thing is this, Jesus didn’t stay dead. Peter’s guilt was redeemed and forgiven when Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead. Peter was able to continue being a friend of Jesus and became one of the greatest leaders of the early church.

Lord, I thank You for this lesson in forgiveness. No matter the things I’ve done wrong, I can always ask You to make them right.

Devotional: The Road to the Cross-Part Three

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Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt,
The foal of a beast of burden.”
Matthew 21:5 HCSB)

My weeks are usually very busy. Every night I’m bringing or picking my kids up from some event; Boy Scouts, soccer practice, Church, band practice, soccer games, or refereeing soccer games. Having a night to stay home seems like a blessing. I know I put it all on myself, but I believe I’m in the business of making boys into men and activities like these are often the building blocks to this goal.

Whether or not my kids are too busy or not isn’t the issue. The issue is whether they are learning what they need to learn. That is a God issue. I take them to these things and me, being the mom I believe God wants me to be. Ultimately, it is God who helps them learn what they need to learn.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, it was the day after visiting His friend Lazarus. Jesus entered the temple and found it full of people selling animals at high prices. It angered him and he drove them out. After that, he healed the blind and the lame.

The next day, he went to the temple and told parable after parable. The chief priests and elders questioned His authority, but Jesus told more parables which they didn’t like because the stories were about them.

Then the Pharisees began to plot against Jesus. They tried to trap him by asking him about taxes to Caesar. Jesus knew their hearts and gave them a wise answer. One that was beyond what they expected from a simple carpenter.

Next, came the Sadducees questioning him. Then again the Pharisees. Eventually, Jesus put a stop to all their questions by asking a question they couldn’t answer. Then he basically chewed them out before telling more parables.

Jesus stayed at someone’s house where his head was anointed with a different woman’s perfume, He washes His disciples’ feet, and they celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. He broke the bread and passed around the cup which symbolizing his body and blood. Finally, Judas left to plot with the Chief priest and elders.

Seems like Jesus had a busy week. All of it was intended to be a lesson. It teaches us about a lot of different things. It molds us into who God wants us to be. Children of God.

Lord, help me to learn and teach during the busyness of my life. Don’t let it just be busyness to be busy, but a time to learn and teach. Thank You for the lesson Jesus left us to learn. Give me the wisdom to understand them.

Devotional: The Road to the Cross-Part Two

You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me. (Matthew 26:11)

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As I think about the journey Jesus took towards the cross, I’m reminded of the woman who used perfume or “expensive fragrant oil” and poured it on Jesus’ feet. It was 6 weeks before the Passover.

What compelled her to “waste” (in the disciples’ point of view) the perfume on a man’s feet? Did she understand what she was doing or why she felt the need to honor Him in such a way?

Judas, the disciple who would later betray him, felt that this perfume could be sold and given to the poor, but Jesus told him to leave her alone. He said, “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

There is so much I find interesting about this story. First, the home that they were staying at was his friend Lazarus’.  He was the same friend He had raised from the dead weeks ago. Surely, Jesus’ stay there was purposeful and not just because of a close friendship. I’m sure He was there to say goodbye, but also to remind His disciples that He had power over death. The proof reclined at the table with them.

Secondly, the Bible says a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor and Martha was there serving them. Yet, it was Mary who had honored Jesus by washing his feet with the perfume and wiped it with her hair. Was it because of her love and devotion to Jesus and for raising her brother from the dead that she did so?

I can’t help think about another time Jesus visited this family. Martha had invited Him and His disciples to her home. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his words while Martha was busy with all the preparations that had to be made. She was upset that Mary had left her to do all the work, but Jesus told her that Mary had chosen to do the right thing; sit at his feet and learn about the salvation that only comes from Him.

So, here is Mary at Jesus’ feet again anointing Him. I think it’s because of her great love for him, but also, because she had become spiritually intuned to the will of God though she may not have realized it.

What does that say about you and me? Am I listening for God’s will? Is my spirit connected to the joys and sadness that He experiences when I do what he wants or don’t do what he wants? What about when I see others in pain or suffering? Or when others feel joy and happiness?

Lord, help me to keep my priorities in perspective. Let me see what is most important to You and Your will for my life. Thank You for the love You have for me.