Daily Reading: November 19

Read Matt. 27:57-66
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’

Our God is a God of promises made and promises kept. We have a great set up here in Matthew. We have first a promise kept and then a recollection of a promise made.

First the promise kept. And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. (Isa 53:9) Jesus was laid in the tom of Joseph who was a rich man. I don’t know Joseph’s character but if we simply believe the scripture, “The soul that sins is the soul that dies,” then anyone in the grave is wicked. But wait! Jesus is in the grave. What is Jesus then? Well to all appearances he must be wicked by that standard.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
(Isa 53:5) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:6) Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isa 53:10-12)

Jesus fulfills this in his death and burial for us. Now the Pharisees are worried his promise will come true or his disciples will make it appear this way. What is that? On the third day he will rise from the dead. What do we know happened? Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Jesus keeps God’s promises. For all God’s promises are “Yes” in him. And so through him we can say “Amen,” to the glory of God. (2Co 1:20)

Here is a promise for you today: The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1Ti 1:15) If you are a sinner this is good news for you.

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for being the yes to all of the Father’s promises. Grant us faith to believe that you will keep all your promises given us in your Word. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 18

Read Matt 27:33–56
Mat 27:39-46 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads (40) and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (41) So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, (42) “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. (43) He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (44) And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. (45) Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. (46) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

As these things are happening what David had prophesied in Psalm 22 were coming to pass. That those who were engaging in this behavior may know what they were doing and what God was doing Jesus prays out loud the beginning of Psalm 22– Psa 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Indeed Jesus the Son of God is forsaken by God. Jesus has become a curse for us, Gal 3:13-14 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– (14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

David says, Psa 22:7-8 “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; (8) ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’” and Psa 22:16-18 “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet– (17) I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me; (18) they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” It is as if David is right there, perhaps in a prophetic state he is.

But there is good news in Psalm 22 also, that we must see to know what Jesus is accomplishing there on the cross. David writes, Psa 22:27-31 “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. (28) For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. (29) All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. (30) Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; (31) they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.” Jesus shall rise from the dead and be seated at the right hand of God. His death brings people from every nation, language and tongue back to God that they may trust in him. He wins for himself an everlasting kingdom, you and I. We who trust in Jesus are his posterity. We are those who were a people yet unborn and we now sing his praise. Jesus’ curse and forsakenness brings us blessing and makes us unforsaken.

Lord Jesus Christ, by your agony and death you gained us to be your holy people. Grant us such faith in you that we too may endure all things that we may enter into your eternal kingdom when you return in glory. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 17

Read Matt 27:11–32
Mat 27:24-29 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (25) And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (26) Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. (27) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. (28) And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, (29) and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

Jesus indeed was innocent of the false charges of the Jewish leadership. They stirred up the hatred of the Jewish people against Jesus. Yet this was the hand of God as Peter preached, Act 2:23 “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” I think sometimes God chose the Israelites because He knew they were a stiffnecked people who reject Him so that when He appeared in the flesh, they would crucify Him and kill Him as they wanted to do most of their history. The Jewish people call Jesus’ blood to be on them and on their children as a curse yet Jesus means it to be a blessing. For it is only through the blood of Christ Jesus that they, their children and all the people of the world would have their sins atoned for, forgiven, propitiated, wiped out and forgotten by God. In the next forty years thousands upon thousands Jews after Pentecost, would come to faith in Jesus, their messiah and be saved from the coming wrath of God.

The Romans do no better. They represent the rest of the world who rejects God as their king and as the king of the Jews. The Israelites have always rejected God as their King; 1Sa 8:7 “And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’” The rest of the world is no better; Psa 2:2-3 “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, (3) ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’” The Roman soldiers demonstrate this in their mocking Jesus as King of the Jews. Yet Jesus is the King of the Jews. He is the King of Israel from the time he brought them out of Egypt. Jesus is the ruler of nations since he himself is the founder of every nation, people, language and tongue from the foundation of the world.

Yet while the world and the Israelites have rejected him, he becomes one of us, to suffer and endure the penalty of sin, which is death, that he may conquer death and the one who has he power over death, the devil. He becomes one of us so he may shed his blood to redeem for himself a holy people. He desires that you would become one of his people, to trust in his death for the forgiveness of your sins and his resurrection that you may believe you are given the gift of eternal life. The time of ignorance is over. The time of faith has begun.

Lord Jesus Christ, may your blood be upon us that our sins may be forgiven and that we may trust you as the King of the universe and most especially our hearts. Make our hearts a fit place for you to rule and dwell and may we ever hail your rightly as our king. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 16

Read Matt 27:1–10
Mat 27:3-5 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, (4) saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” (5) And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself… 7-10 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. (8) Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. (9) Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, (10) and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

It is a horrible thing when those appointed to bring forgiveness in the stead and by the command of God throw our remorse to ourselves and tell us to deal with it. But that is the problem with sin. We cannot deal with it ourselves. We cannot forgive ourselves. That is a delusion. Only God can forgive sins. He only does it because of the blood shed for us by His only begotten son Jesus Christ shedding it for us on the cross. Jesus who has been given authority to judge and forgive sins has given this authority to his bride, the Church and she does this through those she calls, that is her pastors.

Judas’ repentance is not one though to repentance. Many people are sorry for their sins, that is, they regret what they are experiencing, the fruits of their sin but are not repentant towards God. They do not regret having transgressed against God’s law. They do not believe God can or will forgive them. They have no intention of quitting their sinful behavior. They do not seek forgiveness from the ones they harmed nor to God with whom all forgiveness lies. So Judas in his despair goes and hangs himself. But we should always remember we have a gracious, merciful, loving God who acts towards us and desires to be this way toward us on account of Jesus.

Secondly, we see here the Scriptures have been fulfilled concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. This should give us great comfort. For where we see the Scriptures fulfilled we can look to the rest of the promises of God and know our Father in heaven will fulfill all His promises He gives us in the Scriptures. Here is one promise you can take with you the rest of the day and every day-If you believe Jesus Christ died for your sins you have eternal life and on the last day you will be raised to everlasting life.

Lord Jesus Christ, ever grant unto us repentance and faith that we may not despair of our sins but believe and possess eternal life now and the resurrection of our bodies on the day of your return. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 15

Read Matt. 26:57-75
But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. (Mat 26:63-65)

If anyone ever tells you Jesus never claimed to be God, then this is the passage for you “if” they are willing to concede the gospel accounts are correct. The high priest says Jesus has committed blasphemy. Now there are two kinds of blasphemy. One is to claim you are God and the other is to speak ill of God. Jesus is not speaking ill of God here. He is claiming divinity. How so you may ask? Well Jesus is here quoting scripture. What scripture?

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Dan 7:13-14)

The high priest understood Jesus to be claiming he is the Son of Man here in Daniel. They understood this Son of Man to have equality with the Most High because what he is given here is the possession of the Most High.

Now what is the good news here? Jesus, the Son of Man is seated at the right hand of Power. Yeah and? When you are in Christ you are seated with him in the heavenly places. Eph. 2:6; Heb. 3:1 But not only that. We often hear people taking comfort that God is in charge. Well that’s no comfort at all if you think that He is against you. But “he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,…”(Eph 1:22)

You see Jesus is at the right hand of the Father (Power) on your behalf. He is working all things for good for those who are in Him. He is exercising that authority and power on your behalf, to bring you to faith and to keep you in the faith, to bring you through whatever it is that life and putting you through. So Jesus is in charge or in control but more importantly he is in charge/control on your behalf, despite yourself. Now that is good news.

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of Man who has been seated at the right hand of Power, all glory and dominion is yours. Give us faith that we may be in you are participate in your glory as you have promise us who trust in you. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 14

Read Matt 26:36-56
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Mat 26:36-42)

What a great wonder this is! The Son of God, the Son of Man is praying. You might think, “What does Jesus need to pray for, he is God”? As God you might also think, “God gets everything he wants, right?” Ah, but look at the lesson Jesus is teaching us.

First, if Jesus prays, don’t you think that perhaps you might need to pray also? Are you greater than the Son of God who sees the need to pray and does so? As human you were designed by your Maker to pray. It is an ontological necessity. Jesus being truly human needs to pray. To not pray is to deny one’s humanity. It is also important to pray to the right God. Jesus prays to the Father, who is the only true God. We are promised to if we pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, i.e. with faith in Jesus, he will listen to us.

We should learn from this also that not even Jesus gets what he wants in prayer. Jesus wants there to be another way. The end desire is the same as the Father, our salvation. But if we could be saved another way, Jesus would like that to be done. Are our end desires the same as the Father? We probably should compare our desires to that of the Father found in his Word.

Note then that Jesus submits his will to the Father’s will. Not my will but yours be done he prays. Now where He gives us a promise in the scriptures we may will all boldness demand of God in our prayers that he fulfill his promises. But even then like Jesus we must submit our will to his. We cannot demand of God to do things our way, manner, time, amount etc.. And where we don’t a direct promise from God concerning the content of our prayer how much more so should we pray with Jesus, “Not my will but your will be done.” James reminds us, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”(Jas 4:15) Finally, our prayers should not be selfish prayers. We should not only pray for ourselves. Note the words in the Lord’s prayer-Our, us, Thy, and Thine. We don’t pray me, myself, mine and I.

Lord Jesus Christ, give us faith to pray in such a way that we pray according to your good and gracious will and we submit ourselves in all we pray for according to the will of the Father. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 13

Read Matt. 26:20-35
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
(Mat 26:26-29)

So just what is Jesus doing here and why should it matter to us? Well Jesus is establishing a covenant with his people. More so, Luke and Paul give us the added information in the account that it is a new covenant. The author of Hebrews reminds us: “Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”(Heb 9:18-22) And so the blood of the covenant Jesus makes is with blood and note this covenant is for the forgiveness of sins. Of course Jeremiah told us about this centuries before when he wrote: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant … For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people… For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer 31:31-34)

In the Lord’s Supper, which is the new covenant, as we participate in it, we receive the signs or tokens of the covenant, which are Christ’s body and blood in the form of bread and wine. The bread is the body of Christ and the cup is the blood of Christ. Otherwise they would convey nothing. It would be merely symbolic. And we would have a symbolic covenant and a symbolic forgiveness of sins. But no, you actually receive Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, the strengthening and perseverance of faith. Jesus’ body and blood seal to us his forgiveness, his life and his covenant. Jesus tells us here in the supper our sins are forgiven us. More than that, they are remembered no more. He restores our heart and puts his Law that is his Spirit in our hearts and we know the Lord because we believe the terms of the covenant—our sins are forgiven because Christ has given his body and shed his blood for us as the covenant. If you don’t believe your sins are forgiven here then you don’t know the Lord. But if you believe the words given by Christ, i.e. what you are being given and for what reason, then you have exactly what they say, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us your Holy Spirit that we might believe you have established a new covenant with us, with your body and blood, that we might be your people through the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 12

Read Matt 26:1–19
Mat 26:1-2 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, (2) “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Mat 26:6-13 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, (7) a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. (8) And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? (9) For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” (10) But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. (11) For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. (12) In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. (13) Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Jesus is preparing his disciples for what is to come. He has told them on many occasions that he was going to be delivered to the chief priest and to the gentiles to be crucified, dead, buried and on the third day rise again. His disciples never seemed to get it. Of course in the gospels it seems those who ought to understand these things do not, while those who we might think wouldn’t understand these things do.

Such is the account in today’s reading. The disciples still do not get it. Even Judas who is going to betray Jesus into his enemies’ hands does not seem to get it. But here this woman seems to understand and believe what is going to happen. There is not going to be time to anoint Jesus’ body after the crucifixion according to Jewish custom. She understands that Jesus is going to be crucified and understand all that means. She believes Jesus will be risen from the dead on the third day and won’t be available for anointing when there is time. So, in faith in what Jesus has been teaching his disciples, she anoints Jesus ahead of time. Her act of faith is recorded for all time, even as we are reading it today, Jesus’ word is fulfilled.

This will set up Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. For thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave, the Prince of Peace, the Author of Life, the Lord of Glory will be betrayed by his own disciple. This must happen of course if we are going to be saved. If we are going to be ransomed from death to life, the life of the eternal God must be shed upon the altar of the cross. If the seed of the woman is going to crush the head of the serpent, he must be struck on the heel and be brought to death by the fangs of the devil.

And so we know it happens. Jesus is betrayed. Jesus is crucified, dead and buried just as he predicted. Jesus is risen from the dead on the third day as he has said. What Jesus has said concerning you must also come to pass. What is that? He who believes and is baptized will be saved but he who does not believe will be condemned. So what about you? Do you believe Jesus has done this for you? Have you been raised to newness of life in baptism? Or do you reject the gift of Christ? Choose life, believe on Jesus.

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us faith through your Spirit by this Word that we may be joined to your life, death and resurrection through baptism and live out your life in this world. Amen.

Daily Reading: November 11

Read Matt 25:31–46
Mat 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ (46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

You could look at this parable and think that salvation is a reward for doing good. You’d be wrong, but you could do that. The key to this parable is in verse thirty-four. The sheep are those who are blessed by the Father. Why are they blessed? Because they have an inheritance. They have an inheritance because they are children of the Heavenly Father. Their inheritance is the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

The question you should be asking yourself then is how do I become and heir, someone blessed by the Father. St. Paul tells us, Tit 3:5-7 “…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (6) whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” It is in baptism that we become children of God, where receive faith in Christ and the promised Holy Spirit. We must be born from above as Jesus tells us in John chapter three.

In faith, we humble ourselves like little children and are baptized into Christ. Jesus tells us, Mar 10:15 “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” So we are born into the kingdom not by our choice or will but the will of God. (John 1:13) As children of God, those blessed by the Father, we will be about doing the things Jesus commends the sheep for doing. Jesus says, Mat 18:4-5 “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,..”

The goats on the other hand, do not humble themselves before God. They do not receive the kingdom as a gift. They do not bear fruits of the Spirit. While they may have outward good works that at times may surpass the good works of the saints in appearance, they are not God’s children through faith in Christ and baptism. They seek what they deserve and not the grace of God. For those who seek what they deserve from God they will get it. “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” What condemnation to receive that which was prepared to punish rebellious angels. God deliver us from that!

Lord Jesus Christ, grant us humble hearts that we may trust in your merits, receive holy baptism being joined to you there through the water and the word, be made purified, receiving the promised Holy Spirit that we may do the works you have given us to do and be found blessed by the Father on the day of your return. Amen.