March 15, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 23:1-25

I wonder how many times Pilate replayed this over in his mind?  He condemned an innocent man. And, not just any innocent man – the Son of God.

He tried to squirm out of it – but the Jews weren’t having it.  They wanted Jesus killed. Pilate tried to push it off on Herod – that didn’t work.  He tried to use Barabbas to get Him release – but they wouldn’t agree to it.

So, Pilate – the Governor caved. He gave into the demands of the Jewish leaders.

How often have you and I done the same thing?  The pressure of others was too great. Too great to… stand up for Jesus?  Bow in a prayer of thanks before a meal? Share the Gospel with a friend or family member?  And we take the easy route – and simply give into the pressure of others.

How often are we like the Jewish leaders – and we don’t want Jesus to rule over us.  We want to run our own lives – make our own choices – do what feels good to us? We say no to Him – Away with Him! through our sinful actions.

I wonder how many of the people there that day have thought about that day?  I wonder what the repercussions were as they shouted – Let His blood be on us and on our children!

Who really killed Jesus that day?  The Jews who demanded His death? Herod who laughed at Him?  Pilate who was too afraid to do the right thing? The soldiers?  Who really killed Jesus? It was my sins and your sins that put Him on that cross.

Spend some time today and think about that day.  Make a commitment to stand for Him in every way this week.  Live in a way that your actions don’t deny Him. Thank Him for standing there that day and paying the price for your sins.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor


March 14, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 22:54-71

“The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord.” Of all the stories in the Gospels, this verse (22:61) is the most chilling. When we read this story, Peter’s three-time denial is back to back to back, and it seems odd that he didn’t remember what Jesus had said until the final denial. However, Luke states in verse 51 that “about an hour had passed.” This story unfolds much more slowly than Luke’s 8 verses take to read.

We understand that Jesus’ appearance at these mock trials was a farce. But think about Peter sitting there, listening to the accusations for over an hour. He knows the accusations aren’t true. He was a firsthand witness to all that Jesus did; including, let’s not forget, the Mount of Transfiguration where he saw a glorified Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:28-36). If anybody knew how wrong this trial was, it was Peter. And yet, fear overcame all that Peter saw, heard, and even participated in from Jesus.

When he was questioned a third time about his association with Jesus, you can imagine Peter snapping out of a transfixed gaze at the proceedings, with cursing and swearing (as it says in Mark and Matthew), Peter again denied Jesus. That’s when the rooster crowed.

As our passage continues, Jesus is mocked and abused. These men, the religious elite, should have been the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but the missed it. What they didn’t miss was Jesus’ citation of two OT passages—Ps 110:1 (“right hand”) and Dan 7:13 (“Son of Man”). Both passages are Messianic, and blasphemous to the Sanhedrin. They clearly understood what Jesus was saying, which is why they followed it up with the question, “Are You the Son of God, then?”

This question haunts every person in every generation since it was asked. How we answer this question is the most important aspect of our lives. Peter knew the answer to this question—he said so in Matthew 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And yet, fear squashed this great confession from his lips. With cursing Peter denied Jesus until the rooster crowed. At that moment Jesus looked at Peter, probably with compassion, but maybe with some disappointment.

No matter your view of the end times, we all must hold to the doctrine of imminency—that is, Jesus could return at any second. Instead of a rooster, Jesus will return with a trumpet blast (1 Thess. 4:16). May it not be of us; that when that moment happens it will be said, “The Lord turned and looked at [me]. And [I] remembered the word of the Lord.”

Remembering the Word of the Lord should happen before the rooster crows or the trumpet blasts, it should alter how we live. If we only remember after the sound, it’s too late. Consider today, if Jesus came back and looked at me in this moment, would I be denying Him—with my words (directly or indirectly), with my actions, with my love for the world or the things of the world? Or would He see me today boldly living in the truth that Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

March 13, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 22:39-53

From verses 39-46 we have the opportunity to read about Jesus overcoming the temptation to run from what God has called Him to do. He retreated from the disciples in order to be close to the Father and spend time with Him before what was to come. Jesus clearly shows both His humanity and Deity in how He handled these moments. His humanity is shown in the physical aspects of these moments, (agony, stress, sweating blood). The reality that He is also God is shown in His humility through submitting to the Fathers will no matter what the cost.

Then as we move through the passage we come to the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. The reason I am skipping down to this quickly is because there is a truth here that shook me when I read it.

Verses 47-48 say, “While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

What stands out here is that the betrayal of Jesus was not from the outside. It was not a random person from the crowd or someone sent to get Jesus. It was someone close to Him. It was someone that had been following Him and was considered to be a disciple. The betrayal against Jesus was an intimate one. This is huge for us as believers to understand because our sin is betrayal.

When we think about what Judas did, we consider that to be what put Jesus on the cross because he ratted Jesus out. The more I think about that the more I see how my sin betrays Jesus. I believe in Him and I am His follower and yet I do things that directly caused Jesus to go to the cross. He died for our sins. This carries much more weight when we look back at how Jesus never sinned and remained humble and obedient to save you and me; the ones who betray Him.

This simply reminds me of Jesus’ goodness! How great is our God that He still loves us and wants us? I pray that today this passage would draw you to repentance and confession as it has me.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

March 12, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 22:14-38

What an amazingly rich passage of Scripture we have this morning! Here’s how it breaks down:

Beginning of the Lord’s Supper (14-23)

The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to remind us of the Gospel. It is an active way for us to personalize the shed blood and broken body of Christ. Another passage of scripture that teaches on the Lord’s Supper is found in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29—

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

We should consistently be examining our hearts before the Lord, and the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace that God has given to us so that we can do that together. Practically, do you consistently examine your heart before God? How do you apply the Gospel to yourself everyday?

Who is the greatest? (24-30)

This is one of the greatest examples of the disciples teaching what not to do. The question of who is the greatest in the Kingdom of God is a question that has already been answered: God is the Greatest. Jesus flips the question on its head when he declares that the greatest in the Kingdom are the servants. Our roles in the Kingdom are to be servants of the King! Do you live more for God’s Kingdom, or your place in the kingdom?

Jesus predicts Peter’s denial. (31-34)

Peter is one of the greatest accounts of life change we see in the New Testatment; he goes from denying Jesus to being a pillar of the early church. Here we see that Jesus knows his heart and that Peter, like all of his disciples, will abandon Him in his hour of need. Notice, though, that Jesus already knows that he will be restored, and that Jesus is praying against Satan having any more to do with him than he already will.

Jesus fulfills Scripture. (35-38)

All of Scripture points to Jesus. Jesus going to the cross is not an accident, but was in the sovereign plan of God from the beginning. Since sin entered the world, God had been orchestrating this event that would ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus.

What stood out to you from the passage today?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice