Click on the following link for previous layout and posts: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/
DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Saturday, April 4, 2015
If the innocent Jesus (green tree) suffered at the hands of the Romans, what would happen to the guilty Jews (dry tree)?
Jesus asked God to forgive the people who were putting him to death—Jewish leaders, Roman politicians and soldiers, bystanders—and God answered that prayer by opening up the way of salvation even to Jesus’ murderers. The Roman officer and soldiers who witnessed the Crucifixion said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” Soon many priests were converted to the Christian faith. God is gracious; he will forgive us and give us new life through his Son.
This sign [the signboard that was nailed to the cross] was meant to be ironic. A king, stripped and executed in public view, had obviously lost his kingdom forever. But Jesus, who turns the world’s wisdom upside down, was just coming into his Kingdom. His death and resurrection would strike the deathblow to Satan’s rule and establish Christ’s eternal authority over the earth. Few people reading the sign that bleak afternoon understood its real meaning, but the sign was absolutely true. All was not lost. Jesus is King of the Jews—and of the Gentiles and the whole universe.
As the man was about to die, he turned to Christ for forgiveness, and Christ accepted him. This shows that our deeds don’t save us—our faith in Christ does. It is never too late to turn to God. Even in his misery, Jesus had mercy on this criminal who decided to believe in him. Our life will be much more useful and fulfilling if we turn to God early, but even those who repent at the very last moment will be with God in paradise.
Darkness covered the entire land for about three hours in the middle of the day. All nature seemed to mourn over the stark tragedy of the death of God’s Son.
[The thick veil hanging in the Temple was torn apart.] This significant event symbolized Christ’s work on the cross. The Temple had three parts: the courts for all the people; the Holy Place, where only priests could enter; and the Most Holy Place, where the high priest alone could enter once a year to atone for the sins of the people. It was in the Most Holy Place that the Ark of the Covenant, and God’s presence with it, rested. The curtain that was torn was the one that closed off the Most Holy Place from view. At Christ’s death, the barrier between God and humanity was split in two. Now all people can approach God directly through Christ.
The Galilean women followed Joseph to the tomb, so they knew exactly where to find Jesus’ body when they returned after the Sabbath with their spices and perfumes. These women could not do “great” things for Jesus—they were not permitted to stand up before the Jewish high council or the Roman governor and testify on his behalf—but they did what they could. They stayed at the cross when most of the disciples had lied, and they got ready to anoint their Lord’s body. Because of their devotion, they were the first to know about the Resurrection. As believers, we may feel we can’t do much for Jesus. But we are called to take advantage of the opportunities given us, doing what we can do and not worrying about what we cannot do. (NLT)
Luke 23:26-56 – As they led Jesus away, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country just then, was forced to follow Jesus and carry his cross. Great crowds trailed along behind, including many grief-stricken women. But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are coming when they will say, ‘Fortunate indeed are the women who are childless, the wombs that have not borne a child and the breasts that have never nursed.’ People will beg the mountains to fall on them and the hills to bury them. For if these things are done when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. Finally, they came to a place called The Skull. All three were crucified there—Jesus on the center cross, and the two criminals on either side.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
The crowd watched, and the leaders laughed and scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Chosen One, the Messiah.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” A signboard was nailed to the cross above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
By the time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the thick veil hanging in the Temple was torn apart. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
When the captain of the Roman soldiers handling the executions saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” And when the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw all that had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. But Jesus’ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.
Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he had been waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation for the Sabbath.
As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where they placed his body. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to embalm him. But by the time they were finished it was the Sabbath, so they rested all that day as required by the law.
The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” — Luke 24:5 (NRSV)
B. J. Woods (Texas) titled his story “THE DAY AFTER,” and it is about the devastating tornado; here is a portion of B. J.’s story:
“. . . Too often in the aftermath of tragedy we lose our faith and embrace despair. We forget the promises in the Bible and the words of Jesus. We see no answers to our situation. In these times, we can remember that a new day is coming, just as it did that very first Easter morning.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – Easter morning promises that dark days do not last forever.
Prayer: O God, help us to recognize that Christ is standing with us as we go through dark days. Amen.
Prayer Focus: SURVIVORS OF NATURAL DISASTERS
To read the rest of the story in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
For more Helpful Inspirational Material:
SPIRITUAL GROWTH: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/spiritual-growth/
APPLY, APPLICATION, APPLIED: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/apply-application-applied/
SUFFERING, SUFFER: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/suffering-suffer/
DISTRESS, DISTRESSED: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/distress-distressed/
UNITY, UNIFY, UNITED: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/unity-unify-united/
OPPRESSED, OPPRESSION: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/oppressed-oppression/
FORSAKE, FORSAKEN, FORSAKING: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/forsake-forsaken-forsaking/
May you find comfort, encouragement, guidance, hope, inspiration, love, and peace – https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/. May you also find answers to your question(s) through the Scriptures that address every situation you face, and help with your problems: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-a-g/ ; https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-h-n/ ; https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-o-u/; https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/topics-v-z/