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June 1, 2017: The Certainty

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Kings 1, Psalm 119:1-8, Luke 1:1-25, Ephesians 1:1-14 Luke 1:1-25: The Gospel of Luke is written by a medical doctor, who was a companion of Paul’s, for a specific purpose: “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (1:4). In other words, the point that Luke is making, and seeking to establish, is that the things that “Theophilus” (a prominent, perhaps wealthy, Christian to whom the letter is dedicated, and who either literally or symbolically represents believers who “love God”) has been taught are certain, true, reliable, and to be trusted as verifiably accurate and real. Luke writes, in both of his two volume account of Christians origins (Luke and Acts were probably originally distributed as a two volume set on Christian origins, see Acts 1:1), in order that people might know that the things about Jesus are definitely true. He writes therefore an “orderly” account, well...

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May 26-31, 2017

In keeping with the Bible reading plan we are using, the last days of each month are designated as “free days.” May 26-31 then are intended to allow you to catch up on reading you may have missed or to study passages more in depth that intrigued you during the first 25 days of the month. With this in mind, God Centered Bible will not have a devotional for May 26-31, but will pick back up on June 1, 2017. We welcome your comments also during these days with insights you’ve found during the first 25 days. To receive God Centered Bible devotionals directly in your inbox, sign up here....

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May 25, 2017: Go, Tell

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 23-24, Psalm 118, Mark 16, Galatians 6 Mark 16: The end of Mark’s Gospel is famous for the second half of chapter 16 being—as the modern translations put it—“Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9-20.” We will focus on the first half of the chapter, therefore, show why it holds its own integrity on its own merits, before making some comments on the second half of the chapter. Remember that these women (16:1) had noticed where Jesus was buried (15:47). They go there very early on the first day of week to honor the body, “anoint him.” But on arriving they discover that the stone had been rolled away (16:4). This alone is extraordinary for these large stones would have taken several grown men to move at all. More extraordinary still, when they enter the tomb, they see a young man dressed in a white robe—presumably an angel—sitting on...

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May 24, 2017: Dead and Buried, but Not the End of the Story

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 22, Psalm 117, Mark 15:42-47, Galatians 5:13-26 Mark 15:42-47: This passage informs us of the burial and the burial place of Jesus, showing us where he was buried. It helps us with the apologetic that perhaps the disciples went to the wrong tomb when we realize that his burial place was known. Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, and “himself looking for the kingdom of God”—that is with some nascent faith in Christ as the king in that kingdom of God—asks for permission to take the body of Jesus to provide him a proper burial. What great act of piety this is to care for Christ in such a way. Jesus is granted a dignified burial. Joseph uses his influence to gain access to Pilate, and ensures that Jesus is buried with propriety according to the customs of the time. Note sometimes people in positions of prominence, with...

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May 23, 2017: The Curtain of the Temple

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 20-21, Psalm 116, Mark 15:33-41, Galatians 5:1-12 Mark 15:33-41: Every part of this final ultimate moment is filled with significance. The darkness all over the land signifies the momentous event about to take place—the disturbance in the heavens, the wrath of God being displayed against the sin of man, and the atoning sacrifice that Christ is making. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" (15:34) indicates the separation from God that, in the mystery of eternity, Christ is experiencing as he takes the suffering and sin of humanity upon himself and suffers the wrath of God. God’s “forsaking” of Jesus happens as he turns his approval away from him as he takes our sin. He himself became sin that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As Jesus died, the curtain of the temple is torn in two (15:38). The curtain that divided the Holy of Holies from the rest...

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May 22, 2017: King of the Jews

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 18-19, Psalm 115, Mark 15:16-32, Galatians 3:15-21 Mark 15:16-32: This familiar passage never ceases to shock—and amaze; amazing love, what love is this that thou should give thy life for ours? The soldiers mock him. They dress him in purple, the color of royalty, put a pretend crown on his head, a crown of thorns—long dagger, painful thorns—and pretend to pay him homage. The bitterness of the pain and anguish of the physical torment is heightened by the emotional taunting. Then they lead him out to crucify him. They compel Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross. Perhaps Jesus’ scourging has been so severe that he cannot do it himself. They crucify him. The inscription above his head continues to mock him (“The king of the Jews”), though once again it speaks far more truly than it intends. The passersby also mock him: you who said you would rebuild the temple in three...

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May 21, 2017: The Prince of Life They Slay

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 16-17, Psalm 114, Mark 15:1-15, Galatians 4:1-20 Mark 15:1-15: The evil of the religious leaders’ treatment of Jesus is made apparent not only in the hideous, vicious, spiritually malevolent act itself, but also in all the little details. “As soon as it was morning” (15:1): that is, the so-called “trial” had been held at night. A jumped up kangaroo court not following any proper procedures with only one purpose: to provide spurious pseudo-legal covering for screaming consciences. They hand him over to Pilate, after they debate with the whole council. They want the death penalty. Under the power of Rome, they no longer had that power and so need to find him guilty, not only of violation of their own religious laws, spuriously so, but also to make sure that before the eyes of Rome he was viewed as a dangerous insurrectionist and rebel. Evidently, then, they claim that Jesus...

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May 20, 2017: Denying Jesus

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 14-15, Psalm 113, Mark 14:66-72, Galatians 3:15-29 Mark 14:66-72: “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” Pressure does strange things to people, and Peter, so loyal, so bold, is exposed in his weakness as being willing to deny the Lord who a few moments ago he was fighting to protect. Such is fallen humanity, such are we all, such was Peter. Note the boldness of Peter to follow Jesus so closely at all. Peter is warming himself by the fire. A servant girl appears to recognize him as one of the disciples of Jesus, but he denies it. But his denial is, as Shakespeare would say, suspect for it appears that “he protesteth too much”: “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” He goes out into the gateway to escape from the potential exposure, but the servant girl starts saying to the other people around, “This...

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May 19, 2017: Spit on Him

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 13, Psalm 112, Mark 14:53-65, Galatians 3:1-14 Mark 14:53-65: Jesus is brought before the Council. The religious leaders are all gathered together. It is a kangaroo court—not following proper procedure, brought together for the sole purpose of giving a spurious legal rationale for condemning Jesus. Peter has followed “at a distance.” So far, so good for Peter, but (as we shall see tomorrow) his “at a distance” following is the first step towards his denial. False witnesses brought to condemn Jesus do not even agree in their fake testimony. So the high priest asks him directly, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus replies, “I am,” and rather than considering whether Jesus is telling the truth, the high priest immediately is moved to condemn Jesus for so-called “blasphemy.” When we come face to face with the claims of Jesus, it leaves us with a choice: either we...

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May 18, 2017: Judas

Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 11-12, Psalm 111, Mark 14:43-52, Galatians 2 Mark 14:43-52: Judas arrives. And as if to tell us how deep was the betrayal, we are reminded that he was one of the twelve. To be betrayed is one thing; to be betrayed by a companion is another; to be betrayed by one sworn to loyalty to you is a terrible, terrible wound. Judas comes with a rabble with clubs and swords, as if for battle, and with the religious along for the ride too. The betrayer’s signal is woeful: a kiss. No doubt this was their usual greeting, as it often is in the Eastern world among friends. Judas, perhaps not wanting to be given up as the double agent who has betrayed Jesus, greets Jesus in the normal way; but by doing so he indicates to the authorities who this Jesus is. Did they not recognize Jesus? Perhaps they had...

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