Daily Devotions

April 22

While Peter was below in the courtyard, someone came up to him and said, “You were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” but he denied it. He said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” and he went out to the entryway. Sometime later someone said to those standing around Peter, “He is one of them.” but he denied it again. After a little while those standing near asked, “surely you are one of them for you are a Galilean.” Peter began to call down curses on himself and swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” at this the rooster crowed and Peter went out at wept bitterly. (Mark 14:66-72 NIV)

This is undoubtedly the most familiar story of Peter in all of Scripture. None have been preached on more. It seems that Judas is familiarized because he betrayed Jesus, and so Peter is famous for disowning him. But that is not the end of Peter’s story. We see Easter morning the angel tells the women to go tell the disciples AND PETER that Christ will meet them in Galilee. Did you catch that? AND PETER. Tell Peter he is not forsaken. Tell Peter he is not rejected. Tell Peter he’s got another chance. Peter denied Christ out of fear but after Jesus reinstated him he had a determination to live for Christ that he would hold to the rest of his life. Was it out of obligation because he denied Christ that he wanted to follow Christ? No it was undoubtedly out of the love and forgiveness Jesus showed Peter after his resurrection. To know Jesus had not done to him what he did to Jesus must have been overwhelming. What can you say to such love? You can’t say anything. You just choose to live the rest of your life for Christ.

 

 

 

 

April 21

The high priest asked again, “Are you the Christ, The Son of the Living God?” “I am,” Jesus said. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven. The high priest tore his robes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “you have heard his blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned Him to death. (Mark 14:61b-64 NIV)

Here Jesus is making a statement to Caiaphas himself. Jesus could not be any clearer. He told him, “and you Caiaphas will see the Son of Man coming in power and great glory.” Somehow Caiaphas saw Christ. What I want to draw attention to is the fact that we will all see Jesus one day. Whether by His coming or by our death we will all see him. What is important is HOW will we meet him? Will it be as Savior or judge? Do we accept Christ’s claim that he is the way, the truth, and the life? And that he has made satisfaction for our sins? Or do we reject His claim as savior of mankind and go our own way? Caiaphas met him as judge because he rejected him repeatedly. Knowing that Jesus’ message was different and that his power was supernatural he still hardened his heart to the Scriptures and their vindication of Christ as the promised Messiah. So he was judged. We don’t know if Caiaphas died before A.D. seventy or if he was killed in the mayhem when Jerusalem was overthrown. But one thing is certain. We have no promise of tomorrow. What we do with Jesus determines our eternal destiny. Caiaphas showed that he had no need for Jesus; do we learn from his mistake and embrace Christ as our Lord or like Caiaphas show the same disregard?

 

 

 

April 20

They took Jesus to the Sanhedrin… They were looking for evidence so that they could have him put to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and said I heard him say he would destroy this man-made Temple and rebuild it in three days but even their testimony did not agree… Then the high priest stood up and asked, “are you not going to answer these accusations?” All the while Jesus said nothing. (Mark 14:53-61 NIV)

The trial of Christ shows us one thing for sure, namely, the Sanhedrin had nothing on Jesus. However much they despised and hated Him, they could not truthfully accuse him of anything except exposing their own hypocrisy. These men show us an important part of our old human nature that still struggles for survival within each and every one of us. That cancer is resentment.

Resentment must take root before there can be hatred. No one has ever just walked up to someone they did not know and say, “I hate you.” There must be a cause for hatred. That cause comes from a heart condition called resentment. That is what first flared the Pharisees hatred of Christ. Every time Christ spoke against their hypocritical hearts and godless attitudes, whenever the people cheered after Christ for his authoritative presentations of God’s word, which the Pharisees could not match, their resentment of Him grew. Beware of resentment! Resentment, if left unchecked, will consume you, like it did the Pharisees.

 

 

 

April 19

Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priest, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi” and kissed him. (Mark 14:43-45 NIV)

I find it interesting that it says here—“Judas one of the twelve.” Judas is identified with the twelve as he betrays Jesus. What is intended by such a statement? Judas was an eyewitness of Jesus’ life. He saw wonderful things as he walked with the Lord. Yet, here he is three years later on the opposite side of Jesus in the Garden.

As the leader of the high priest’s band to arrest Jesus he arranged a sign to top it off. So Judas was not just a shadowy figure in all this who hid behind a fern while the mob took care of business. He was an active agent who followed through all the way to the face of Jesus. Truly it is people like this who I believe the book of Hebrews has in mind when it says that they crucify the Son of God all over again and subject him to public disgrace. People like this trample the blood of Christ under their feet as if it were a common thing. Blackest darkness will be their lot forever. It is a grave warning for any who reject Christ. Let us hold onto Christ with an undying love and devotion.

 

 

 

April 18

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and… Jesus said to them, “set here while I pray.” Jesus began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little further he fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible that this hour might pass from him. He returned to find his disciples sleeping. “Simon” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you do not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” He went away to pray again and returned to find them still sleeping and they did not know what to say to him because their eyes were heavy. “Enough! The hour has come and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise here comes my betrayer. Let us go! (Mark 14:32-42 NIV)

Words cannot express nor can we relate to how Christ felt in the garden. He was about to take upon Himself the sin of the world and for the first and only time be cut of from his father. Scripture says His sweat became like drops of blood. He was overwhelmed to the point of death. Can you honestly relate to that?

I have had sleepless nights with things weighing on my mind but I’ve never been that distressed. Now, here is quite a contrast, Jesus is overwhelmed by His coming suffering while the disciples are napping. It’s incredible that so many big events in the life of Christ happened while the disciples were unconscious. They were in a sense asleep on holy ground. Aren’t we also often guilty of such spiritual slumber?

The Lord has plans for our lives and we are oblivious to them. Because we don’t do what Christ told the disciples to do; we, like they, sleep and snore when we should watch and pray. That is what makes the difference in our lives. When we sleep and snore Satan creeps in and we are defeated before we know what’s going on. When we watch and pray we are steadfast and alert and can stand our ground. In the disciples’ case who knows what might have been different if they had watched and prayed instead of slept and snored? Wonder what would happen in our lives from this point on if we did the same?

 

 

April 17

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered’… But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” …Peter declared, “even if all fall away I will not.” “I tell you the truth before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” Jesus responded. But Peter insisted, “even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” The others said the same. (Mark 14:27-31 NIV)

Now, you’re probably expecting me to go on about Peter’s failure here. I will not. Simply put Peter did a number on his testimony and temporarily lost his senses. It was a mistake, but maybe you can point to a time in your own life when you did the same.

I want to concentrate on motive. Peter’s heart was in the right place as was the hearts of the other disciples. They wanted to be true and faithful to Christ. We see in Gethsemane Peter drew a sword and cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear. He clearly intended to go through with an act of physical violence on Christ’s behalf. Maybe he was aiming for the throat but in the darkness stumbled over a rock and cut his ear off instead. I believe that at this point Peter intended to show his devotion to Christ and let Jesus know that he really did mean what he had said and said what he meant. But as Christ rebuked him, his wild hysteria subsided and as Jesus was arrested Peter was left alone with his thoughts.

Maybe this is why he prayed for the disciples not to fall into temptation. They were strong one minute but running the next. It only takes a split second for Satan to counter our motives of devotion. When the smoke settles and we are left alone to ponder as Peter was, Satan may get the upper hand on us like he did Peter. In a moment of doubt or fear our feelings can suddenly change.

Remember when Peter walked out to Jesus on the water? He was perfectly sound one minute but got his eyes off Christ and began to sink the next. He did something similar in Gethsemane. When our focus is on Jesus we cannot be moved. It is when we take our eyes off Him that we stumble in the darkness.

 

 

April 16

When Jesus arrived with his disciples, while they were reclining at the table he said to them, “one of you will betray me.”…While they were eating Jesus took bread and broke it saying, “this is my body which is broken for you.” and taking the cup gave thanks and gave it to the disciples and they all drank from it. He said, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:17-25 NIV)

We know that the body of Christ was broken and his blood poured out on the cross for our atonement. Isaiah 53 says He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our sins. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him.

In Daniel 7:13, we get a picture of Christ triumphant after his suffering and death. It is only by Christ that anyone has eternal life. Paul said in Acts 4:12 that salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved.  So Christ atoning death is paramount to the Christian faith.

Here is something interesting, Mark writes that Jesus gave the cup to the disciples and they all drank from it. This sticks out to me. The disciples drank of the cup which symbolically represented the blood of Christ. All of them drank from it. We do the same. When we come to Christ we drink of Christ; in a sense we partake of him. They drank in preparation of what was about to happen, we drink from what has now been accomplished. It is a picture of us becoming a part of Christ.

April 15

While in Bethany a woman came and anointed Jesus’ head with a very expensive jar of perfume. Some present said, “why this waste this could have been sold for a lot of money.” Jesus said, “leave her alone, she has done a beautiful thing preparing me for my burial.” Then Judas one of the twelve went to the chief priest to betray Jesus to them. (Mark 14:3-11 NIV)

This is the first mention in Scripture of Judas’ intention to betray Christ. I can’t help but think what drove him to it? Here was a man in Christ’s inner circle. He walked with Him for three years, saw his miracles, and heard His words. Yet, here he is going to the chief priest to betray Christ.

Was it Christ’s continuous prophecies about his death? Did this talk about anointing and burial finally break Judas’ confidence in Jesus?  “This can’t be the Messiah,” Judas might have thought, “His words don’t fit my expectation.

Before you start throwing stones at Judas, maybe you ought to ask yourself if you ever feel that Christ doesn’t meet your expectations. You too may have a may have a disillusioned mindset. Christ came with a set purpose, to die for sin. Judas did not see it the same way. Do you ever tell God that you have a better idea? If so, that’s a danger place to be, and, like it was with Judas, it could have dire consequences for you.

 

 

 

April 14

Now the Passover was two days away and the chief priest and teachers of the law were looking for a way to arrest Jesus and kill him… “But not during the feast,” They said. Or the people may riot. (Mark 14:1-2 NIV)

The religious leaders were almost comical in their hypocrisy. Here, as in other places in the Gospel, they make no intention of hiding their hostility and hatred of Christ. Yet, though they were looking for ways to arrest Jesus the timing was just not right when they went to do it. “We have to arrest him,” they thought, “but not during the Passover.” Even later when Christ hung on the cross their concern was getting done with the dirty business before the feast.

They were so concerned for their Jewish festivals, which ironically pointed to the one they were trying to kill. They knew His power and words bore the authority of God, but still they plotted to kill Him. Could this be a warning to many today? How many are just going through the motions of religious ceremonialism at Christ’s expense?

 

 

 

 

April 13

When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it doesn’t belong, then let those in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one come off his roof to enter the house for belongings. Let no one in the field go and get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Pray that this will not take place in the winter, because these will be days of distress unequaled from the creation of the world until then and never to be repeated again. If the Lord had not cut short those days no one would have survived but for the elects sake they have been shortened. (Mark 13:14-20 NIV)

This is the passage so many use to describe what is called the seven year tribulation. Again, going with the flow of this entire passage and looking at world events today you might be convinced. But upon further analysis a different picture begins to take form. Jesus starts off with the abomination that causes desolation. To play along with the prevailing view of today this is to take place when the antichrist sets in the Temple of Jerusalem claiming to be God. But Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospels, “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies then know its DESOLATION is at hand.”

Again, if we believe he is speaking to a first century audience then we must look for a First century application. What better then Roman legions sacking Jerusalem between 68 & 70 AD? The abomination would simply be unclean elements whether people or things inside the Temple court.

In the books of Moses we read that Gentiles (non-Jews) and those made unclean by some element of Jewish law were not allowed to enter the Temple. It was an abomination if they did. So think of yourself as a Jew living in first century Palestine and seeing legions of non-Jewish troops coming into the Temple courts. You would be crying “abomination” at the sight.

We read Christ’s words about fleeing to the mountains when this happens. If we hold to a seven year tribulation period and believe this is referring to world-wide tribulation, what good would it do to flee to the mountains? It wouldn’t matter where you went. Same thing if you were pregnant and nursing, or if it was winter or summer. This has to be speaking to a first century audience and to a regional event.