"Then his master said ...I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'" (Matthew 18:32–33, ESV)
Offenses are sure to come in life. Repeat offenders bugged Peter so much that he asked Jesus, "How many times am I required to forgive someone for offending me?" To answer Peter's question, Jesus tells a story about a king who wished to settle accounts. This king kept track of what was owed to him. Jesus was teaching this: When it comes to forgiveness, we are way better off not keeping account of who offends us. To ensure we are clear, the Apostle Paul taught, 'Love keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Cor 13:5) Love keeps no account of offenses.
How do we do this? The answer is what Jesus is teaching in the parable. He is the King in the story, and He forgives a man a debt he could not possibly repay in a lifetime. Forgiven of his debt, and having his account cleared, he meets a fellow servant who owes him a few dollars. This man can't pay his debt either, and the forgiven man has his fellow servant thrown in jail. When the King finds this out, he is so angry at the first servant that he hands him over to the tormentors until his 'impossible' debt can be repaid.
The point of the parable is this. Having been forgiven a debt you cannot possibly repay, do not keep tabs on any accounts of those who offend you! You just keep on forgiving, no matter how many times!
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6–7, ESV)
Everyone is aware of what it means to be stressed. We become stressed when we carry burdens or loads we were never meant to carry. We also become stressed when we try to carry heavy obligations in our own strength. Fear causes stress too.
One of the biggest causes of stress is responsibility. Responsibility means 'the buck stops' with you. By nature, responsibility is weighty. It means that other people are counting on you to do something. Some people are designed to carry more responsibility than others. What is important is that we learn to recognize our limits and call upon God.
Ultimately the key to living free of stress is to trust God more. When we try to carry things in our own strength, we are operating in a spirit of pride. This is why Peter exhorts us to humble ourselves before God. When you humble yourself before God, you acknowledge that you need His strength.
What is needed is for us to cast off (throw down) what we are carrying. Some translations say, "Roll all your cares over onto Jesus..." The picture is that of a soldier rolling off his back the heavy duffel he has been carrying. Therefore I say to you today, "Roll all of your cares over onto Jesus because He cares for you!"
"(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this, he said to him, "Follow me." (John 21:19, ESV)
In John 21, Jesus asks Peter twice: "Do you agape me?" Agape is an unconditional, self-sacrificing kind of love. Peter could not answer Jesus, saying, "Yes, Lord, you know I agape you." He had already proven to Jesus that he could not love with a sacrificial Agape love. Therefore, he was limited to 'phileo' love which is brotherly love. Peter could not forget his three horrible denials of knowing Jesus. Thus he felt he was limited to loving Jesus with only brotherly love. So Jesus meets Peter where he is, and the third time Jesus asks, do you phileo me? Which Peter does.
In verse 18, Jesus tells Peter the kind of death Peter would die and how he would glorify God in it. We have to think about those words of Jesus for a moment. He is telling Peter, "You will die for me." You could only deny me before, but now you will lay down your life for me. For Peter to lay down his life for Jesus shows us that he would genuinely agape Jesus with unconditional, sacrificial love!
The conversation ends with these words to Peter: "You follow me." The story of Peter's restoration of relationship and ministry with Jesus is so beautiful and gentle. It reveals the heart of God to all of us. He is a God of second chances—and more if we need them.
"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." (John 21:15, ESV)
After the resurrection, the disciples saw Jesus two times. He sends seven of them back to Galilee, where a breakfast and a difficult conversation occur. Remember, Peter had denied Jesus three times.
Jesus asked Peter, "Simon, do you agape me more than these?" He does not call him Peter but Simon. That had to sting a bit since Jesus named him Peter. Now Jesus is calling him Simon. And the question, "Do you agape me more than these?" had to hurt, given Peter had this great boast that he would die for Jesus and instead denied Jesus three times. Peter answers, "Yes, Lord, you know I 'phileo' you." The difference between these words is vast. Phileo is a brotherly type of love. Agape is an unconditional, self-sacrificing kind of love.
The third time Jesus asks, "Peter do you love me?" He, too, uses the word Phileo. Jesus met Peter where he was. Peter says you know I phileo you! To which Jesus states, "Feed my sheep." The conversation ends with Peter hearing two times Jesus say, "Follow me.
Jesus did not have this difficult conversation with Peter to crush him. He had it to restore him. Jesus had to take Peter back to where he failed to demonstrate how much Jesus loved, accepted, and trusted him. Jesus restored, re-commissioned, and re-entrusted Peter, all after a hearty breakfast
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7, ESV)
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." These words are so powerful and rich with understanding. The fear of the Lord is the foundation on which the entire Book of Proverbs rests.
What is the fear of the Lord? To understand the fear of the Lord, you have to see it as one unit. Like the word butterfly, if you study the word butter and then study the word fly and attempt to find the meaning of butterfly, you will not find it.
The fear of the Lord concerns God's law, statutes, precepts, commands, ordinances, etc. They come out of His nature and are directed to humanity for their well-being and prosperity. They are not forced on one's behavior; they are highly motivating when understood.
Consider Psalm 19:7-9 "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether." (Psalm 19:7–9, ESV)
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)
How we see time and how God sees time are two different things. God was—before time was. And God will be after time is no more. Time is just one little segment within the scope of eternity where God dwells. To God, a thousand years is as a day; but to us a day is often as a thousand years. We often find ourselves trying to hurry God along because He is moving too slowly. But Peter helps us to see from a different perspective.
Peter's statement reveals to us God's heart of love for the whole world. And at the same time, he shows us His compassionate sorrow towards those who do not have a relationship with Him. We hear it in Ezekiel 33:11 "... As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live;”
I am so thankful God does not want anyone to perish but all to come to Him. He is not slow. He is patient. His patience reveals His tender mercy towards all people. It also calls us to be patient, especially as we seek to lead others to Christ. Lord, help us to be patient with others while at the same time urgent with this Gospel.
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8, ESV)
It is so good to know that God is watching out for us! His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. He will keep us from dashing our foot against a rock. He is good and does good. But just as God watches over us, Peter informs us that Satan is watching too, but he does not have our good in mind. He is watching for that opportune time in which he can devour us.
Therefore Peter says to be sober-minded. If one is not sober or is 'buzzed,' they no longer operate with a clear head. They are not as 'sharp' as they would be if they had nothing to drink. Peter's point is that we stay sharp, knowing that an enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy. My introduction to African life meant I had to be aware of Hippos, baboons, cobras, and other things that can eat you. It did not mean I could not go out—it meant when out, I had to be aware of what was around me.
Peter reminds you and me that the devil is seeking whom he may devour. As long as we stay sharp and are watchful of his schemes, there will be nothing to eat when he knocks on our door!
"For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow." (James 1:3, NLT)
The word used in this passage for 'testing' is the Greek word 'dokimion.' It is a unique word because it means to be under the watchful eye. For example, a coach oversees his players. He does so not for the purpose of pointing out what is wrong but for the purpose of making adjustments in his players so they will do better. We live our lives under the watchful eye of a very good heavenly Father. He does not watch over us to find things wrong so he can condemn us. He watches over us, with His watchful eye, to help us improve.
James is encouraging the church by letting her know that she lives under the watchful eye of the Father, who is helping to perfect and strengthen her faith. Our endurance grows as our faith is tested, evaluated, and shaped by the Father!
Endurance means to remain in place, not to be moved, to hold out, and to stand against opposition. It is not just patience. It is actively successful in resisting opposition. The word for endurance also implies a motivation that comes from within because of honor and not from without, like public opinion.
James says we are to count it all joy when we encounter trials of various kinds. He says this knowing we are under the eyes of a good heavenly Father and are motivated by the honor of serving and pleasing Him.
"Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you" (2 Thessalonians 3:1, ESV)
In church history, there are times when the Word of God seems to really advance quickly. People have the favor to share the Gospel with other vital people who happen to be in the right place at the right time. These 'open doors' allow the Gospel to move swiftly in multiple directions and with great results.
As Paul is preparing to conclude his second letter to the Thessalonians, he asks them to pray for several things. He asks them to pray for him and his team. He asks that the Word of God would speed quickly ahead. May it be received promptly. He asks that the Word be honored and esteemed highly by those who receive it. He reminds the Thessalonians how they received the Word. Meaning, pray that how you received the word is how everyone gets it where we go.
Paul's request to them should be a part of our daily prayer lives. Every day we should be praying, "Lord, let your Word run swiftly through my city." If you are praying for missionaries, ministries, or churches, pray: "God, let your Word move swiftly through them! We also pray that your Word would be honored by all who hear it, and may they respond with hungry hearts in search of truth." Prayer is vital to advancing the Kingdom. And so is 'heart' preparation of those who will hear it. "Lord prepare their hearts for the entrance of your Word!"
"...But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead" (Philippians 3:13, ESV)
In a world of many things to do, many options to try, and many things to be done, Paul does one thing. He forgets what is behind him, and he pushes for the prize. The past is passed! Do not look back. Keep your eye on the prize! And lean into it. Those who have run in races for their school or team have heard their coach scream, "Do not look back; what matters is the finish line. Keep your eyes on that!"
He who looks back is distracted by what is behind him, concerned by what is behind him. A runner knows his concern is to be the first over the finish line. The finish line is what is in front of him. He strains to keep pushing ahead and leaning into his race.
As believers, we must remember that God took hold of us for a specific purpose. That purpose is our mission; to be like Jesus. Like Paul, we live to obtain the resurrection from the dead, and everything not connected to that goal is cut off. We toss it aside like rubbish, never to be picked up again.
Do that often enough, and you will be found running the race, winning the race, and obtaining the prize! It is a high calling to all who are in Christ Jesus!
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
Living the crucified life is living a life that identifies both with the cross and the resurrection of Christ. We identify with His death in this: He carried our sin, shame, and guilt to the cross. We were guilty and deserving of the cross, but Jesus took our place. When He took our place, it empowered us to say, "I have been crucified with Him!" We identify with His death, for He took our place.
We now live not our lives but His to be lived through us. Therefore, as we now live in this body of ours, we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us. We are not living to impress God or anyone else. We are allowing Him to live and express the Kingdom through us. What He has said about us regarding this life of faith is what we intend to live. We are now bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. We are His expression in the earth.
We live this way, honored and humbled by the fact that He loved us and gave Himself for us. It is not we who live but Christ who lives in us. The crucified life identifies both with the cross and the resurrection.
"Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan." (Judges 3:1, ESV)
The Hebrew word for 'test' is 'nāsâ.' "It has the idea of testing or proving the quality of someone or something, often through adversity or hardship." (Archer Harris T.W.O.T.) Tests are not designed to destroy us. They are designed to build us. They are given to demonstrate how much we have learned and to show the quality of what we have become.
God does not test us to destroy us but to reveal to us the quality of Christians we are. Most people do not like taking tests, myself included. But trials determine the areas where growth is needed. When you realize that you are being tested for growth purposes, you accept the fact and wait for the result. Given the outcome of the test, you either advance or remain where you are. The athlete sitting on the bench watching the game will either stay there when tested or outgrow the bench and get into the game.
Are you feeling benched by God? Do you feel like you continue to go around the same mountain with different settings or situations? Maybe you need to determine the area God wants you to grow in and get to work growing. The choice is ours. We have one life to live; give it your all and become who God designed you to be!
"See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.'" (Deuteronomy 1:8, ESV)
The goodness of God leads us to see the land of promises! A Good God wants us to recognize the good things He has prepared for us. He also wants us to trust Him at the same time. God did some serious signs and wonders while the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt. God was doing two things at once. He was dismantling the most powerful ungodly system operating in the earth in Egypt. And He was also showing Israel that they could trust Him to do what He said.
Seeing God's promises and goodness is crucial to operating in faith. Faith in the Most High God was what God was after in Israel. It is what He is after in us too. Hebrews 11:6 says, "...without faith it is impossible to please Him and those who come to Him must know that He exists and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
After seeing the promises of God, the command of God is: "Go in and take possession...!" We do this remembering, "Forcefully the kingdom of God advances, and forceful men take hold of it." Mt 11:12 God expects us to act in faith to obtain His promises and provision. If it is possible to get out of Egypt, it is possible to possess the promises of God. Go in and possess the land!
"...say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." (Leviticus 19:2, ESV)
"You shall be holy." I always expect to hear those words with thunder and lightning, amid much fear and trepidation. Maybe it is because God is speaking, and His voice scares everyone. Or perhaps it is because some preaches preaching holiness put you just inside the gates of hell if you do something not so holy.
There is a place called 'Happy Holiness!' God may have a deep booming voice, but His heart is so huge when it comes to holiness. He tells us to be holy because He is holy. God wants us to be like Him. He wants us to be like Him so that when others encounter us, they encounter Him. After all, His ways are so much higher than ours, and life is good when we walk in them!
Happy holiness occurs when you are most in love with Jesus! I think it would be safe to say; Most people are most holy when they are most happy in Jesus! When our hearts are affectionately in love with Jesus living holy is easy. He is not trying to change my behavior. He is trying to change my heart with His love! When that happens, holiness is a by-product of Christ's love.
Psalm 16:11 declares that in your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand are pleasures forever more. The more joy and pleasure I find in God, the happier I find holiness to be. Being holy is not scary; it is an enjoyable thing found in loving Jesus more and more.
"... And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord." (1 Samuel 2:21, ESV)
Every Christian parent's dream is to see their child grow up in the presence of the Lord. Like Moses, Samuel was no ordinary child, for Hannah had birthed this child in the place of prayer under much resistance. She poured her heart out to God and made an amazing promise. "Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life." (1 Samuel 1:28, NLT) That is huge!
Hannah went on to have more sons and daughters, but Samuel remained with Eli in the House of the Lord. But the House of the Lord was filled with unbelief. Eli, the priest, could no longer recognize the voice of the Lord. His sons, who were also priests, were disobedient to the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:12 describes them as worthless men, for they did not know the Lord. It was here that scripture records that "Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord." How does that happen?
First, it happened because Hannah gave Samuel back to the Lord. That makes him God's child. And God's children are constantly surrounded by God's favor. Secondly, because of prayer, Hannah had God's presence on her when she conceived. Third, even though Samuel was 'under' priests that did not know God or His voice, Samuel learned to hear God as he worshiped the Lord there.
God greatly honored Hannah by causing Samuel to grow in His presence. And later, it is written, "He grew in favor with both the Lord and man." Every parent's dream.
"Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name." (Malachi 3:16, ESV)
There are benefits to living in the fear of the Lord. In Malachi's day, the nation of Israel was in a bad place. There was little justice to be found in the land. The people had forgotten God and had forgotten His ways. The priests despised the name of the Lord and polluted the offerings. The nation was greatly defiled.
In this context, God finds a remnant that refuses to become defiled—this remnant with hearts devoted to God chooses to live right, do right, and worship in fear of the Lord. They lived in righteousness under a God who was righteousness. They loved His ways and knew He was well able to keep everything they entrusted to Him.
The remnant held on to God when God spoke of divorcing Israel because of her spiritual adultery. When God threatened to open the borders of Israel to all her enemies, the remnant held fast to the ways of God.
It was this remnant who feared the Lord that caught God's attention. God was listening to their conversations. They spoke God's word and of God's ways, and the Lord created a book of remembrance before Him to remember their names and deeds. Those who fear Him will not be forgotten—but remembered. The Lord paid attention to those who esteemed His name!
"For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything." (1 Thessalonians 1:8, ESV)
Some people do not like to be talked about at all! But when you have an open and visible faith in Christ, people will talk about you. Paul was encouraging the persecuted church in Thessalonica with these words. "Your faith has gone everywhere! We do not even have to bring you up in conversation. People are already talking about you!" Their faith was making a name for themselves. What are people saying about you?
The word 'forth' is best understood in this passage as 'to circulate.' To circulate, you have to go forth. You can’t stay in your house or the confines of the four walls of the local church. You have to go out and 'circulate' among the people of the community. Circulating alone is not praise-worthy, but circulating and preaching and demonstrating the Kingdom in faith will leave a God-mark on those who hear and experience God through you.
Jesus' fame spread throughout Galilee because he lived moving from village to village, sometimes from person to person preaching the Kingdom of God and healing the sick. People will talk about you, your preaching, and your faith when that happens
"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51, ESV)
The Apostle Paul teasingly invites his readers to delve into a mystery. See if you can discover the answer! For Paul, a mystery is that which was once hidden but now has been revealed! He writes in such a way as to make his readers want to seek and discover. Paul answers the mystery and causes us to stand in awe: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed!"
Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians is devoted to understanding the importance of the resurrection. He paints a picture of what that will look like when it happens. The point is: flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom. Our bodies as they are now, and in the grave, will not be the ones we have when we are resurrected. He compares our bodies to a seed. That which is sown must die for a new body to come forth. Our bodies will be sown into the earth, both perishable and mortal. But! When raised, they will be unique in that they will be imperishable and immortal, never again to die!
We will have bodies like our Master! The same power that brought Him out of the grave with a new body will also change our mortal bodies. Therefore we can say, "Take that, death! For my mortality is clothed with immortality! You have lost both your victory and your sting!"
"But Martha was distracted with much serving..." (Luke 10:40, ESV)
The word 'distracted' means to draw away from. So the immediate question is, “What is drawing you away from Jesus? In Martha's case, she was pulled away from the more important thing by much serving. Serving is a good thing! After all, Jesus did say that he who would be great must be a servant of all. Martha was serving but had lost her joy amid all her serving.
How does this happen? Her mercy gift (desire to help others) caused her to take on more than she could carry. She went beyond the grace given to her and started to do things out of her own strength. Luke's assessment is quite clear: Martha was drawn away from the source of her strength by serving too much.
In the next verse, Jesus 'reads her mail' and adds His prophetic insight: "... "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things" (Luke 10:41, ESV). He is saying to her, "Martha, you are worried and distressed." So often, the busyness of life becomes distracting because we start thinking about the 'what ifs' more than the task at hand. Mentally we make the job twice as hard when we do that.
Jesus clearly answers Martha's troubles: "Martha, come sit at My feet, like Mary. She has chosen the greater thing and will not be pulled away from it." Yes, life is busy. But to survive a busy life, we must find time to sit with Jesus at His feet.
"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24–26, ESV)
These words were the Lord's command to Aaron and his son on how they were to bless the people of Israel. This blessing was God's idea! He wanted those with a priestly call to speak over God's people these words. When you read the words of this blessing, it makes your spirit want to say, "Ahhhhhh..."
Numbers 6:24-26, drip with the goodness of God. It reminds one of the words of Job, "O for the day, When my steps were bathed with cream, And the rock poured out rivers of oil for me!" (Job 29:6, NKJV) The goodness of God poured out upon man!
Moses instructed Aaron this is what you are to say when you bless Israel: the Lord (Yahweh) give you wild favor and protect you! The Lord (Yahweh) make His face shine upon you and be overwhelmingly generous to you. The Lord (Yahweh) be so approving of you that you are overcome with His peace. When you encounter God this way, it is a good day! And we are empowered to speak this over each other, over our families, our church, and our communities. If the Lord watches over His word to perform it, then we should, by all means, be speaking it!
"After this, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way." (John 21:1, ESV)
Verse fourteen of the same chapter says, "This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead." According to Acts one, in the first few verses, Jesus revealed himself to his followers, over and over again, for forty days. Why? He wanted to make sure they 'got it!' He was alive! In fact, Acts 1:3 says, He presented himself alive by many proofs appearing to them during forty days. It was important that they knew He was alive!
'A dead man lives?' This is the Gospel! The Son of Man died, and now the Son of God lives! Death could not hold Him down. The grave could not keep Him in the ground. His life is the light of men! Darkness could not and cannot overcome Him! Jesus holds the keys to death, hell, and the grave.
We must be patient with one another as we come to faith! Some receive faith quickly, like the women at the tomb. Others are a little slower in coming to faith, like Thomas. The good news is, He is patient with us, not wanting any to perish. He presented the disciples with many encounters so that they would know He is alive. This same Jesus is still encountering us so that we may be assured He is the Christ, Son of the Living God! There is help for slow learners!
"...they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee," (Luke 24:5–6, NKJV)
Good question, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" The women were looking for a corpse to anoint, not an empty tomb. They took no thought about what Jesus had said that He would rise again. The good thing is they were looking for Jesus. So the angels seem to play with these ladies searching for the Rabbi. They state, "He is not here but has risen. Remember..."
Do you remember what He told you in Galilee? "That the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day rise." The women had to be reminded! Like us, we often must be reminded of what Jesus said. So often, when life comes at us fast and unexpectedly, we slip into our natural minds seeing life through our experience rather than through what Jesus has said. When we do that, we need to be reminded of His word. Once they remembered what He said, they ran to tell the others, "He has risen! Just like He said, He has risen, indeed!"
The disciples did not believe either until they saw Him, and He reminded them of what He had said. Don't feel bad if you must be reminded. Rejoice! He is risen!
"Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots." (Luke 23:34, NKJV)
These words of Jesus went so deeply into my heart the first time I read them after being born again. I knew what I was doing when I was sinning, but did not know who I was doing it to. When answering the question, "Who crucified Jesus?" The answer is, "We all did." We all put Him on the cross. He died for all of us! He carried all our sins, guilt, and shame to the cross.
"Father, forgive them..." is so personal! It is personal because it is the heart of Jesus making a request of His loving Father. In light of the Father's heart of justice, Jesus knew full well what He was asking and to whom He was asking it. It was personal because Jesus was asking, from His heart to the Father, not to hold their sin against them. He was saying to the Father, "Forgive them."
Everything appears to be contrary at the cross! A righteous man is dying for unrighteous men. Justice is served up as unjust nails are driven in. Life is made available as death presses in. Forgiveness is being granted to all who have sinned. He was right! "They do not know what we do." Yet we live with the comfort of His words, "Father, forgive them..." For love covers a multitude of sin. Sela
"And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him." (Mark 14:11, ESV)
Mark does a beautiful job of presenting a contrast between a woman who performs a selfless act upon Jesus, by anointing Him with expensive oil; to Judas, who performs a selfish act of betrayal for a handful of silver.
Luke writes one of the saddest words in scripture: "Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot..." (Lk 22:3). What would prompt a man to allow Satan to enter him. We may never know. But from that point on, Judas sought to betray him. The word sought means to search out or to look for intensely. What was Judas looking for? He was looking for a favorable occasion or time that he might deliver or hand over Jesus to the religious authorities. Interestingly, the religious leaders were also looking for an opportune time to deliver Jesus to the Romans to be killed.
Satan was able to enter Judas and cause him to answer the desire of the religious leaders -- the death of Jesus. Amazing how they found each other! That is how the enemy works. He too, is always looking for opportune times that he might destroy. Judas handed Jesus over to the religious authorities for thirty pieces of silver. And with a kiss, he betrayed the Son of God. “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” (Luke 22:7, ESV)
"For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me." (Mark 14:7, ESV)
A woman with a very expensive and fragrant flask of anointing oil opened it and poured it all out upon the head of Jesus while he was reclining at a table. What a beautiful gesture. Yet some in the group were indignant and began to complain to each other about how somebody could have sold the oil and given the profits to the poor.
But Jesus came to her defense and redirected their thinking. "She has honored me with her thoughts and this act of kindness. She has anointed my body before my burial." He also said that her devotion would be made known wherever this Gospel is preached.
This woman had the right priority. This woman knew that the One on whom she poured the oil was infinitely worth more than she had to offer, but she offered her all. This woman somehow had the revelation that Jesus would give His all for her, and she would not be denied giving her all for Him.
Many today still struggle with giving Jesus their all. Maybe we need a greater revelation of who He is and what He has done for us. Take a moment and pour out your worship on Jesus as He pours out His presence on you! Selah
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