Day 23 Monday 31st March 2014
John 17 High Priestly Prayer
This entire chapter is Jesus’ prayer we learn from it that there is a battle going on in the world where the forces under Satan’s power and those under God’s authority are at war. We see the intimate relationship between the Father and the Son. In the first section of the prayer Jesus’ acknowledges that his work on earth is completed by the deeds his Father gave him to do and say. His death on the cross was to finalise and bring to completion what God had sent him to do in bringing salvation. He prayed for his disciples, including those of us who follow him today, and would keep his chosen ones safe from Satan’s power, set them apart, making them pure and Holy uniting them in the truth.
We are told clearly how we get eternal life- by knowing God the Father through the Son Jesus Christ. Eternal life means we enter into a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus. We admit our sin and repent of it. Christ by his Holy Spirit comes to live in us giving us his power to love and helps us to live our lives for him. Eternal life is not just something we get after death we receive eternal life here and now. It is then his presence is made known in the world today so God’s glory is seen as we reveal his character. Does your life reveal Jesus character and presence?
Another of Jesus prayer request to God his Father was that his original position he had before he came to earth would be restored to honour and authority. After Jesus resurrection and ascension – and Stephen’s dying exclamation (Acts 7:56) tells us Jesus did return to his exalted position at the right hand of God.
Jesus great desire for his disciples was that they become one this would be a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. How is this being worked out in the Church today?
Is this our prayer do we pray for each other and with each other are we in union with God? For example are we branches in union with the vine united with all other branches desiring God’s will.
Day 24 Tuesday 1st April
Matthew 26-27 The Arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus
The arrest of Jesus took place in the garden of Gethsemane. This was a quiet place where Jesus went to pray. Previous to that the disciples prepared for the Passover it was there the meal was eaten together as they remember and celebrate the freedom God brought to the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt. Here Jesus takes the Passover in a new direction of thought. Jesus took the bread and began to talk about himself, “This is my body” then he took the cup and said this is my blood of the new covenant poured out for forgiveness for you.” Jesus knew the time of his death was close. He predicted the disciples would fall away and leave him. All the disciples declare their undying love. Talk is cheap it is easy for us all to claim to remain faithful but how do we stand when tested especially if we are the only Christian in a group.
In the garden Jesus asks the disciples to keep watch and pray but they fell a sleep. Jesus was in great anguish praying three times “Father if possible may this cup be taken from me but not my will but your will.”What is your prayer life like do you pray or sleep when others need prayerful support? He was betrayed by one of his own Judas and arrested by those sent by religious leaders. They put Jesus on trial and made a mockery of justice then Jesus was handed over to the Romans to be crucified. During the time Jesus was on the cross darkness fell over the earth physical pain was agony but even worse was the spiritual separation from God because he took on the sins of the world this caused him to be separated from his Father. After Jesus cried out in a loud voice he gave up his spirit, the curtain in the temple of the most Holy place was torn in two at his death, symbolising that the barrier between God and humanity was removed. Now all people can approach God because of Christ sacrifice for our sins.
Day 25 Wednesday 2nd April
John 20 The Resurrection of Jesus
This must be the most amazing story one as ever heard. Like Mary Magdalene and the disciples at first we may think it is impossible to believe. Only when they encounter Jesus personally are they able to accept the fact of the resurrection. It was only when they saw the empty tomb that they remembered what Scripture and Jesus said, that he would die, but he would also rise again. It is as they commit themselves to the risen Lord and devote their lives to serving him that they experience his presence with them and understand more fully. In seeking to know the truth many may be like Thomas and have doubts. Doubt can be healthy if it causes us to rethink the issue just as long as that doubt is not permanent. Meeting with those who believe and have moved on from doubt can be helpful as we listen to their experiences. But we do have to make a decision and believe. Some want to see before they can believe but Jesus says if we can believe without seeing we are blessed. The gospels include everything we need to know to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, through whom we have eternal life. Have you believed and received him?
Day 26 Thursday 3rd April
Luke 24 The Ascension of Jesus
Luke is the only Gospel writer to record the ascension he speaks about it in this chapter and at the beginning of Acts. Ascension means that the work of the Son is finished. Christ returns to the Father in the only way the disciples would have recognised as departing and that was by going from them physically. Scripture tells us Christ returned to his Father, he sat down at his right hand. The words to sit means that his work was completed. Christ work of restoring humankind to God was finished and the message of the cross and resurrection is made very clear by the ascension. We are ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven. Our great High Priest has completed his work of salvation and now represents us before our Heavenly Father. Before the ascension Christ was limited by his physical presence when he returned to heaven the Holy Spirit soon came to comfort them and empower them to spread the gospel of salvation. At the Ascension Jesus lifted up his hands to bless them. Then they worshipped him with great joy, praising God.
Day 27 Friday 4th April
Acts 2 The coming of the Holy Spirit
Luke the writer of Acts tells us on the day of Pentecost they were all together in one place. These people had the special job of spreading the Good News of Jesus death and resurrection. Jews from many nations gathered together in Jerusalem for a festival of thanks giving for the harvest crops. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house what seemed like tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All where filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in other tongues each to hear them speak in his own language. This was the fulfilment of John the Baptist words about the Holy Spirit’s baptising with Fire. (Luke 3:16) and the Prophet Joel’s words about the out pouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29) Peters speech was given to an international audience and it resulted in a worldwide harvest of believers – the first coverts of Christianity. God speaks to all no matter what race, colour, nationality or language, are you listening?
Day 28 Saturday 5th April
Acts 9 The conversion of Saul
Saul (later called Paul) a zealous Jew who was a member of the Pharisee sect began a persecution campaign against anyone who believed in Christ. Christians at that time were called those who belonged to the Way. As Saul travelled to Damascus pursuing Christians he was confronted by the risen Christ. He came face to face with the gospel of truth. Sometimes God breaks into a life in a very spectacular way and sometimes conversion for some is a quiet experience. The right way for anyone to come to faith in Jesus is whatever way God brings you. At the centre of this experience was Jesus Christ himself. Paul acknowledged Jesus as Lord, confessed his sin, committed his life to him and decided to obey him. True conversion comes from a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and leads to a new life in relationship with him. Paul became a true servant of God his ministry was mainly to the Gentiles. He wrote many letters to the early Church, to encourage, rebuke and correct. He started with wrong motives but his encounter with Christ give him a new direction in life and his zeal was used in a more positive way.
The 40 days of Lent for 2014 begin on Ash Wednesday (5th March) and conclude on Holy Saturday (17th April). The quick mathematician will notice that is more than 40 days. Sundays are not included. As a team of clergy and readers we have provided short devotional comments for each of the 40 days and encourage you to read our Sunday lectionary readings in preparation for church to maintain a rhythm of daily readings. It is our hope and prayer that our journey through the Scriptures this Lent will help us grow in faith and understanding of God’s big story.
Sunday 6th April 5th Sunday of Lent
Readings: Romans 8:6-11 & John 11:1-45