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September 14, 2017: Mocking the Savior

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 37-39, Proverbs 25:1-14, Luke 23:1-12, Hebrews 8:7-13 Luke 23:1-12: (23:1-5). Now begins the more formal Roman legal process. The Jewish leaders are seeking the death penalty, so they bring him before the Roman authorities and accuse him of matters that amount to treason (23:2). He is, they say, enacting a political movement that is putting himself as a rival to Caesar, a “king,” and is also effecting the revenue stream of taxes to Rome. The two aspects of the charge—political and financial—were measured to give maximum possibility of a lethal judicial sentence. Pilate picks the most incendiary of the two, that he is acting as a king in rivalry to Caesar (23:3). But when Jesus replies with an implicit acknowledgement (“you have said so”), but evidently without any political or revolutionary zeal, Pilate concludes that Jesus has done nothing wrong. The fact that Christians were not political revolutionaries was an important...

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September 13, 2017: Suffering Servant

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 34-36, Proverbs 24:23-34, Luke 22:63-71, Hebrews 8:1-6 Luke 22:63-71: (22:63-65) They mock Jesus. How can this be? People are cruel, and cruel authority is cruelest of all. If they do such things when the trees are green, what will they do when it is dry? If they treat the Master in this way, how will they treat his servants? Let us pray for those followers of Jesus who are being persecuted today, and do what we can to care for those Christians thrown in prison, beaten and mocked. And let us also rejoice—with sheer amazement—at the Christ who suffered all the pain and degradation that we deserved, that we might go free. (22:66-70) How frightening that a body of religious people, religious leaders no less, meeting in authoritative council, could act in such a way. Yet is the testimony of history that false believers have often treated real believers far worse than...

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September 12, 2017: Denial

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 31-33, Proverbs 24:1-22, Luke 22:54-62, Hebrews 7:11-28 Luke 22:54-62: How is it that such a faithful man as Peter would deny Jesus three times? He starts out well enough. He follows Jesus as Jesus is taken away into custody, following albeit at a distance (22:54). He is bold enough, though, to go right into the courtyard and sit down among those who are declared enemies of Jesus (22:55), even within eyesight and earshot of the action (22:61). This is no coward. He is boldly going into the lion’s den. Yet, three times he does deny Jesus, just as Jesus had predicted (22:61). First, he denies it to a servant girl (22:57). Then another man (22:58). And finally someone becomes convinced he must be among the followers of Jesus because so many of them came from the North of the country, from the region of Galilee, and Peter’s distinctive accent gives him away...

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September 11, 2017: This Is Your Hour

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 29-30, Proverbs 23:19-35, Luke 22:47-53, Hebrews 7:1-10 Luke 22:47-53: The most extraordinary few verses ever written. Who could have believed it? One of Jesus’ own, Judas, one of his very disciples, acts to betray him. And does it so apparently callously: with a kiss. The logic of sin is illogical; the rationality of evil is irrationality; trying to understand evil is impossible, for evil is the opposite of all truth and beauty and light, and exists in darkness and confusion. Do not bang your head against the brick wall of understanding the origin of evil; instead, let light shine in your hearts through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. One of the other disciples attempts to defend Jesus with a sword. He took his warning earlier (22:37) too literally, and cuts off the ear of the servant of the...

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September 10, 2017: Sweating Blood

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 27-28, Proverbs 23:1-18, Luke 22:39-46, Hebrews 6:13-20 Luke 22:39-46: Jesus withdraws, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives. The disciples follow him. Now comes a scene famous, notorious, powerful, sad—and yet wonderful. That such a One as this should give his life for a worm such as I! His suffering leads to our healing, his successful struggle through the very worst possible temptation that he might help us in our temptations, his death that we might have life. Jesus tells his disciples to pray that they might not fall into temptation (22:40). A very ready and present help when facing temptation is to pray for help. Do not neglect this when facing a temptation that seems to us beyond our ability to resist. Turn to God for help; ask him; pray to him. God is an ever present help in time of need, and prayer is the means for us...

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September 9, 2017: Spiritual and Practical

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 24-26, Proverbs 22:17-29, Luke 22:31-38, Hebrews 6:1-12 Luke 22:31-38: (22:31-34) In Western culture, even in the church, we often gloss over the reality of the supernatural, but texts such as this remind us that Satanic adversary is real and active. We are in a spiritual battle. Oftentimes tensions at home, at church, in ministries, or in our own inner lives are more signs of the spiritual war in which we are engaged than more prosaic interpretations might suggest. We should not default to seeing the devil under every malady, nor excuse our poor behavior on “the devil made me do it,” but neither should we act as if our lives were only interpreted by human frameworks. There is a spiritual world. We are in a spiritual battle. What then should we do? Paul teaches us about the armor of God, including the sword of the Spirit being the Word of God, and...

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September 8, 2017: Leadership

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 21-23, Proverbs 22:1-16, Luke 22:24-30, Hebrews 5 Luke 22:24-30: So many books have been written about leadership, and yet so few of them grasp this principle that Jesus here teaches—a principle that is at the heart of who is and what the gospel is. First the contrast. The Gentiles have a certain style of leadership. Often we look at this description of leadership in verse 25 and assume it means something uniformly negative or dictatorial. But in some respects, the principles of verse 25 are described in many management and leadership text books. To lead you must have people who follow, they say. A leader without followers is like going for a walk on your own. To have followers, they say, you must establish appropriate control procedures. This is all equivalent to the principle of exercising “lordship.” And then to retain such precedence, you must be careful to reward your followers with patronage,...

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September 7, 2017: The Lord’s Supper

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 17-20, Proverbs 21:17-31, Luke 22:14-23, Hebrews 4:12-16 Luke 22:14-23: This meal is now laden with gospel significance, each and every part. First, it points to Jesus’ coming suffering (22:15). The Lord’s Supper, when we eat it now on the other side of the cross, points back to Jesus’ death for us. Second, it points to the kingdom of God (22:16-18). The King of the kingdom, King Jesus, reigns when he sovereignly dies for the sins of the world. The kingdom is established, propagated, promoted, and centers on the cross of Christ. (Note: some have mistakenly thought that Jesus’ establishment of communion here in Luke is different from elsewhere because here he begins with the cup in verse 17. But this cup that he passes is part of the meal. The strictly symbolic elements occur in verses 19 and 20, and there the same order is retained: first the bread, then the cup). ...

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September 6, 2017: Satanic Betrayal

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 14-16, Proverbs 12:1-16, Luke 22:1-13, Hebrews 4:1-11 Luke 22:1-13: (22:1) It is almost Passover and Jesus is making preparations, not just to eat the Passover with his disciples, but also to be the fulfillment of that Passover in his own death for the sin of the world. Note: all of these Old Testament types and figures find their landing place in none other than Christ and him crucified. Note also how planned and prepared Jesus is for each of the events that will unfold. He is the master of ceremonies even at his own death, which he entered into willingly for the sake of us whom he loves. (22:2) The chief priests and the scribes are trying to put Jesus to death—which in God’s sovereignty will be the means he uses to be put to death to save sinners. But why are they so opposed to Jesus? “They feared the people.” They cannot...

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September 5, 2017: Watch and Pray

Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 11-13, Proverbs 20:16-30, Luke 21:29-38, Hebrews 3 Luke 21:29-38: (21:29-33) As so often when Jesus is teaching, he uses a parable to explain his meaning. Such similitudes aid the understanding in the same way that windows in a house allow the light to come in. We need the solidity of the structure of understanding, but if there are no windows, that light will not come in and understanding will be unlikely. Jesus, the master teacher, used stories and parables and illustrations—not so as to take over the teaching and be memorable for their own sake, but so as to illuminate the teaching in the mind’s eye of the listener. This parable is of a fig tree. In those days, people would have been familiar with the cycle of a fig tree to be able to tell by the coming of the leaf of that tree that summer was around the corner. When we...

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