Visitor Devotion

 

 

November 2019: I Need More…MONEY

I Need More…MONEY

Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller, “How much money is enough?” “Just a little more,” he answered. At the time, he was one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Those who’ve heard that story and Rockefeller’s answer, usually divide into two groups: they either think of him as a greedy miser (“He has more money than he knows what to do with!”) or an honest pragmatist (“Hey, he’s just telling the truth—even if you’re rich, a little more is always nice.”). Don’t we all occasionally find ourselves thinking, “I need more money?”

There’s nothing wrong with financial security, but how much is enough? If you are pricing a vacation home in Florida and feel frustrated that you don’t have enough to buy a Ferrari too, that’s one thing. If you lost your job and can’t pay the bills, and it’s getting tough to put food on the table, that’s something else.

This is a complicated issue. It’s not easy to properly distinguish between real needs and selfish greed. Do you really need more money? Maybe. Maybe not. When it comes to finances, the best advice comes from Jesus Christ. Our Savior said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

According to Jesus, a lot of folks expend an enormous amount of time and energy in pursuit of earthly treasure and financial security, but for what? In the end—if a bad economy, a poor decision, or unforeseen disaster doesn’t claim it, time certainly will—you can’t take it with you.

That makes heaven the only worthwhile investment. And here’s the great news: Jesus lived, died, and rose again to provide all the heavenly treasure for you. Peace with God—now and forever—that’s what he freely gives.

Put your trust in Jesus. Find in him real treasure and eternal security. What more do you need? Besides, Christians know that the Lord will always provide. We’ve got his Word on that: “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Do you really need more money? You don’t need to answer that question. Put your trust in Christ—seek first his kingdom and his righteousness—and let him answer the question for you.


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October 2019: I Need More…FAITH

I Need More…FAITH

“I Need More faith.” I can’t imagine any honest Christian who wouldn’t say a hearty “Amen” to that statement. Because of the common weakness of our sinful, human nature, the fervent request that a greatly distressed father made to Jesus regarding his son’s great need and his own weakness of faith has often struck a chord: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Notice how that statement is punctuated with only a semicolon regarding his faith, but an exclamation point with regard to his unbelief. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of the faith-life of God’s people. We wish our own faith was punctuated with an exclamation mark or at least a simple period. But we know a question mark suggesting uncertainty or doubt gets in the way too often.

Just about every Sunday the worshipers in our churches make a confession of faith with the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. The key truths of the Christian faith are very briefly and yet adequately summarized in those statements. There are no exclamation points in either of those great, ancient creeds—just commas and periods that acknowledge the basic scriptural facts. That’s an important aspect about saving faith: knowing the truth about the true God and the Savior he has given us.

Since this faith is totally a gift, we need to keep going to the Lord with this request, “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” We keep having a problem with unbelief because it’s such a natural part of us. Faith is a supernatural thing, and it is kept alive and strong only with the supernatural Word of our supernatural God.

The most important thing to remember about faith is that it derives all its strength from its object, that on which it rests. As a famous preacher once said, “It is not your hold on Christ that saves you; it is Christ. It is not your joy in Christ that saves you; it is Christ. It is not even your faith in Christ that saves you, though that be the instrument. It is Christ’s blood and merit.” There might indeed be many instances where our trusting faith is shaky, but the Savior and his promises are rock solid. With this subject of faith, it’s most important to hear him speak with exclamation points, “I love you! I have saved you! I will never let you go!”


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September 2019: I Need More…Knowledge

I Need More…Knowledge

The Church of Scientology teaches that people are basically good, that their capabilities are unlimited, and those capabilities can be realized. People can also achieve new, higher states of awareness and ability. Scientology claims that the secrets to this higher knowledge can only be found in their church through a process they call “auditing.”

Seems strange? But honestly, a cultic religion that encourages you to look within yourself for more knowledge can really satisfy an itch. Who doesn’t feel they need more knowledge? And how about being able to pat yourself on the back for pursuing it and supposedly finding that knowledge within yourself? That’s pretty appealing to the human heart.

But God’s Word sounds much different than L. Ron Hubbard, who authored the book that has become Scientology’s bible. God says people are not basically good, that people’s natural capabilities are limited to sinning and rebelling against God. As a result, God says all people are the same: “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…The way of peace they do not know” (Romans 3:11,17).

God is right! Not L. Ron Hubbard! Need proof? Think about Adam and Eve when they pursued more knowledge on their own apart from God. They rejected God’s Word and sinned. Look at what their own inner pursuit of knowledge got them and us! A world infected by sin so badly that everyone eventually dies.

Jesus knows we all lack knowledge, and he wants to fill that void. He does so not by telling us to find it inside ourselves, but by telling us to look outside ourselves. We find knowledge in the Bible. Through his Word, God makes us wise; he gives us insight and understanding. (See Psalm 119:98-100.) That’s because God’s Word gives us knowledge that we can’t find or discover anywhere else.

The Bible tells about Jesus. It tells how wide, long, high, and deep Jesus’ love is for people. That love drove Jesus to come to this world, bear the sin of every person, die on a cross, and suffer the eternal punishment for all sins. That’s love—love so amazing that God declares that your sins are forgiven because of Jesus. That’s love—love so beyond understanding that Jesus, the righteous one, should die for the unrighteous. But he did! That’s why the apostle Paul says that “this love surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). In Jesus’ love for you, you have everything you truly need to know, both now and forever.


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July 2019: I Need More…SATISFACTION

I Need More…SATISFACTION

“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work” (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

That is what the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes said, and he said it three different times in his book. It sounds simple enough: Somehow find the ability to lean back in your hammock on your day off and say, “What a satisfying life this all is!”

But maybe your expectations for satisfaction in this life are too high. Maybe they are unrealistic. Maybe they are even wrong and pivot around your own self and ego.

The Bible says about God, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). Many believers bow their heads and speak this verse before they eat their food. In prayer at their dinner tables, they acknowledge that God is the source of their satisfaction. They recognize it too when they pray this part of the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us today our daily bread.”

The apostle Paul told a young pastor, “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:8). Perhaps those who demand more satisfaction from life are not thinking of the simple but sublime satisfaction that is the desire of many hearts. They forget that in their work—whatever it may be—they can glorify God with faithfulness and cheerfulness. Thankfulness that they have the ability to feed themselves and their family. Those are the aspirations of a loving God for our satisfaction.

Satisfaction in our lives does not come because of what we do but because of what God does. He takes care of us…body and soul. He feeds us. He sent Jesus to rescue us from his great dissatisfaction over our sin. He promises to be with us and bless the work of our hands. He says that what we do for him will not be in vain.

Be satisfied—truly satisfied—with that!


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July 2019: I Need More…REST

I Need More…REST

People put in many hours of work each week. Weeknight evenings are filled with activities for children and meetings of all sorts. When the weekend rolls around, there are many activities that we want to participate in. There are sports for children, recreation for families, and leisurely interests for individuals. Hours on Saturday are taken up by home improvement projects or needed maintenance. By the end of it all we are tired.

Finally, it is Sunday morning, a day of rest, and I get to sleep in. It is the one morning that if I don’t get out of bed, my work will not call, and my children will not bother me. Nothing much happens on Sunday morning, so it is a good time to relax. I get so tired during the week. I need more rest and Sunday seems to be the perfect day to get it. If I sleep in on Sunday morning, I may be well rested physically but spiritually I am exhausted.

On the front wall of the church where I grew up is this Bible passage. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Those are Jesus’ words. It is his invitation to provide rest, not for our bodies but for our souls. There were plenty of times I walked into that church physically tired, but I always received rest for my soul.

I heard a message about my sin and Jesus’ forgiveness. I was reminded every time that I had real rest in Jesus. I had the rest of a clear conscience because Jesus took my sin away with his death and resurrection. I had the rest of knowing that when I die, I will rest eternally with Jesus. I had the rest of knowing that the same Savior who loved me enough to die for me is ruling all things in this world for me, and for the benefit of all his people.

Such a busy life! It makes you wish you could have more rest. You do! In Jesus you have the rest you truly need. The church may not have that Bible passage printed on the wall, but through the Word of God you hear, you will receive rest for your soul in Jesus. Next Sunday morning, come and get some rest with us at church. It is good for your soul.


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June 2019: I Need More…SECURITY

I Need More…SECURITY


Everyone knows disappointment sooner or later. It’s that time when the car broke down, when national security was breeched, when we lost our job. It’s that time when doctors couldn’t cure us or our loved ones, our investments disappeared, friends disappointed us, when we disappointed ourselves.

We try to limit disappointment or prevent disappointment from becoming a disaster. We make promises. We buy insurance. We do our homework before making big decisions. We search for what is “guaranteed or your money back.” We go to the doctor recommended by trustworthy friends.

What we’re really looking for is security. We just want something we can count on; something that is stable; something that is safe and stays that way. But isn’t it striking that even with all the protection agencies, certifications, types of insurance, promises, and money-back guarantees in today’s world, we’re still left searching for more security?

When it comes to things that can threaten our sense of security, the possibilities appear endless. You probably have had that sinking feeling and said to yourself, “There’s always something. What am I supposed to do? If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Either this or that…”

At such trying times, find strength from these verses in the Bible: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Notice: “neither” this, “nor” that “will be able to separate us from the love of God…” The love of God is a faithful, stable, and dependable love. And if we want proof of that, we need only consider how God sent his only Son for us. Jesus came and died on the cross, and he rose again. Our sins weren’t too much for him to bear. Death itself could not hold him in his grave. Satan could not stop him from carrying out his mission. Many religious leaders hated Jesus. One of his own disciples betrayed him. One denied him. The rest abandoned him. And the vocal majority crucified him. Did any of these prevent Jesus from keeping God’s promise to save us? No! God’s love prevailed for the whole world, and now whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life!

God’s love will never disappoint you. Nothing in all creation can separate you from God and the power of his love in your life. For Jesus came, he died, and he rose again. We have this as our security: God’s love is guaranteed.


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May 2019: I Need More…CONFIDENCE

I Need More…CONFIDENCE
 

Meet Doug. As he toes the line for the final game of his senior year basketball season, he wonders if his scholarship dream is going to happen.

Meet Kristin. As she graduates from college, she wonders if she’s adequate for her new job.

Meet Samantha. As she faces her second round of chemotherapy, she wonders if she’s going to live.

Meet Scott. As he says his vows to his wife, he silently wonders if his second marriage is going to last.

Have you been there? Doug, Kristin, Samantha, Scott, you and I all have one thing in common: we need confidence. Let’s face it; there are times in life that it’s easy to be filled with doubt. Doug doubted his future. Kristin doubted her abilities. Samantha doubted her treatment. Scott doubted his love.


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Saturday of Holy Week

Saturday of Holy Week
 

Quiet. That’s how you could describe the day after Jesus died. Today was the Sabbath. It was the day of rest for the people of the Old Testament. Every believer for 1,500 years stopped working on this day and was quieted. No one was allowed to bake bread, or stitch clothes, or tend the fields, or plan a project, etc. On the Sabbath day, the people of God were to engage only in those types of activities that enhance the joy, rest, and holiness of the day. They would spend time with family, go to the Temple for prayer, sing psalms, and most importantly read, study, and discuss the Scriptures.

How distracted those early followers of Jesus must have been. For the first time in three years, their Lord was not there. We know the importance Jesus placed on worship. Luke tells us, “As was his custom, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read.”

Jesus would not be reading the scriptures to them that day. He would not be discussing the wonderful truths of God’s Word as their “hearts burned” within them.

No, that Sabbath was different. It was filled with uncertainty. Their hearts were mourning. Their stomachs were turned in knots, wondering if they would end up dead just like their former master.

In my household, we had the tradition of being quiet on this Holy Saturday. We weren’t allowed to watch TV or be rambunctious. Holy Saturday was a day of reflection and family. This was the day that our Lord’s body rested in the tomb. His work was finished. Our salvation complete. And so in a very small way we remembered the quietness of that day, 2000 years ago.

It’s interesting that the commandment dealing with the Sabbath is quite different than the others. The commandments are filled with “You shall..” and “You shall not…”. But the 3rd commandment says, “Remember…”. We are to remember the Sabbath day.

The fact that the Lord has to tell us to “remember” means that too often we forget. We forget that God is the almighty creator, the God of heaven and earth. He created the entire universe. He created all that is in it. He specially made mankind as the crown of his creation. We forget this as we get bogged down in our crazy schedules, and raising kids, and planning our futures. We forget, too often, that God is the supreme. That his love for us endures forever and that he shows this love to us as he daily provides for us.

We forget the sabbath rest of God also when we neglect his Word and Sacrament, when we fail to follow the commands of the true God. This was the entire reason that the God of the Sabbath sent his Son. Jesus redeemed us from our forgetting, from our neglecting. He rescued us from our sins by completely following those commands and then taking his perfect life to the cross, wherein his great love for us he took our sins and gave us his righteousness.

On this Holy Saturday, we don’t share the same confusion that the first disciples did. We know the outcome. We know that Jesus rose from the dead, just like he said he would. We rejoice that the victory over sin and death is now ours, for Scripture tells us, “We were therefore buried with him by this baptism into his death, so that just as he was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too would also walk in a new life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:4-5 EHV)

Take time today to remember all that the Lord has accomplished for you. In a quiet moment ponder upon this verse from Psalm 105, “He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded for a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8 EHV)

 


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Friday of Holy Week

Friday of Holy Week
 

What is power? How would you define that simple and yet complex word? And after you define it, then tell me how does a person obtain it? Many would assume that power is the ability to control the actions of others. Power is seen in positions and titles. To have power there must be some sort of structure which has a hierarchy in place of who is over whom. We see this play out every day of our lives – the person taking your order at McDonald’s does not have as much power as the person who owns the place; the salesmen can’t tell his manager what to do; the general makes the command, the lieutenant obeys. This power can be used either positively or negatively. You’ve probably had good bosses and terrible bosses in your work career. Power used for the benefit of others will often result in the whole hierarchy succeeding.

But if that’s our working definition (and by the way, there are many more valid definitions), then who has the power on Good Friday?

Jesus stands before the Sanhedrin. He is bound and beaten; the council does the beating. Who has the power? The council does. They send Jesus to Pilate. Only he has the power to put someone to death. He commands his soldiers to flog Jesus. Who has the power? Pilate does. Pilate finds Jesus innocent of any crime, but he can’t let Jesus go because he is afraid of being called a traitor against Caesar by the crowd. Who has the power? The crowd does.

What does this teach us about power? It’s fickle. It’s temporary. It’s unwieldy. Everyone must answer to someone else. Nobody has all the power.

Except… look at this exchange between Jesus and Pilate: So Pilate asked him, “Are you not talking to me? Don’t you know that I have the authority to release you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over me at all if it had not been given to you from above.” (John 19:10,11)

Who was really in control? Who had the power? God.

Jesus, true God, was in control. But his power was hidden. He didn’t make it known as most would have in his position. When arrested the night before, Jesus says that he could call down a legion of angels to protect, but he won’t. Jesus tells Pilate that he could leave at any moment, but he is a different type of king.

Jesus had the power, but he didn’t use it to control others. Jesus used his power to drink the cup of judgment that God the Father had given him. Jesus used his power not to control but to serve. He used his power to bring victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil by allowing himself to be hung on a tree, to be judged for our sins, and to be killed even though he was innocent. That is true power. The King of the world died by the world’s hand to save mankind from its sins.

On Good Friday we see Jesus in control. We see in his power Jesus cry out, “It is finished.” And after winning our salvation, he was still in control. John tells us, “Then, bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.” Death didn’t take his spirit. He didn’t succumb to his wounds. Jesus gave up his spirit. Death had no power over him. Of course, we see this greater still a few days later, when Jesus is raised from the dead, proving that he has power over it.

In his victory, Jesus doesn’t use his power to glorify himself. He uses it for you. St. Paul writes, “For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and bring us (together with you) into his presence. In fact, all this is for your benefit, so that as grace increases, it will overflow to the glory of God, as more and more people give thanks.” (2 Corinthians 4:14,15 EHV)

May your Good Friday observance be one filled with blessing as you see the power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 


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Thursday of Holy Week

Thursday of Holy Week

We call it Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” means “command” and comes from the words of Jesus: “A new command I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).  By the next day, the disciples would see in Jesus a higher standard of love than the old commandment offered, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

Maundy Thursday shows us the faithful love of God in contrast to the failing love of man.  This is the day of the Passover celebration- that religious festival that commemorated that great act of merciful deliverance when the Lord delivered his people from slavery in Egypt and spared them from death on that night when all the firstborn in Egypt perished.  The blood of an innocent lamb on the doorposts of their homes had saved their ancestors.  Now it was time for the blood of the innocent Lamb of God to save all mankind.

So Jesus shares the Passover meal with his disciples.  God intended the Passover meal to be eaten with one’s family.  Here we see the faithful love of Jesus.  He considers these men his family.  He knows (and actually says so this night) that Judas is betraying him, that Peter will deny him, and that the rest of the disciples will abandon him.  Yet Jesus hosts them for this meal.  He washes their dirty feet before the meal, performing servant work for them knowing that, before the night is over, they will be arguing over who will be the greatest when Jesus rises to power as the earthly king they hope he will be.  He gives them his own body and blood as he institutes the Lord’s Supper, knowing that, later that night when he is arrested, they will flee into the shadows to save their own skin.  He remains committed to his Father’s will to die for them even in the agony of Gethsemane, while they show the depth of their commitment to Jesus there by taking a nap when he asks them to watch and pray with him.

Jesus has a lot to say to them that night (John 14-16). I recommend you read it.  If I were Jesus, I would have been able to think only of myself and what I was about to endure.  My mood would have been self-pitying.  But Jesus is thinking about his disciples’ needs.  They have no idea what heartache, grief, fear, and doubt is waiting for them beginning this night. But Jesus knows what they will need, as he is aware of your needs even before you are and always gives you what you need.  So in faithful love, he gives them words of comfort to get them through the next difficult days:

John 14:1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:18-20 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16:22  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

More than that, in faithful love he gives them his body and his blood (“poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”- Matt. 26:28), so that the guilt of their failure to show committed love to Jesus this night does not drive them to despair.  It’s why he gives his body and blood to us too.  He knows our love for him often falters and fails in the most shameful ways, just as the disciples’ love did that night. But in faithful love he keeps coming to us in his supper to assure that his love, his mercy, and his forgiveness are unfailing. 

One more thing, Jesus spells out for them this night how the world will hate them as much as it hates him, and he goes into specifics about how they will be persecuted by people who think killing them is doing God a favor.  (John 15:18-16:4)  “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray,” Jesus explains (John 16:1)  How we need to hear those words.  It is tempting to go astray, to dismiss those teachings of Jesus that are unpopular in our culture, or to live a covert Christian life so we can avoid being potential targets of ridicule or hate for Jesus’ sake.  But distancing ourselves from Jesus and his truth is not the answer.  This is: “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. ” (John 15:5,8)

Remain in the Savior whose love remains faithful even when ours falters and fails.  Assured of his love and forgiveness over and over in his gospel in word and sacrament, you and I will find always find the comfort and strength we need to keep following him and bearing our crosses on the path he has blazed to eternal glory.


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Wednesday Of Holy Week

Wednesday Of Holy Week

Wednesday of Holy Week is a quiet day.  Jesus stays away from Jerusalem.  The big event of this day is Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples, meeting with the religious leaders in Jerusalem to arrange for Jesus to be seized under the cover of darkness on Thursday evening.  For this reason, this day has been called “Spy Wednesday.”

In Matthew’s gospel, he places this meeting after the account of Mary anointing Jesus in Bethany- an event that actually happened the night before Palm Sunday.  Matthew intends to contrast Mary’s actions with that of Judas.  So in his account, Matthew 26:1-16, it goes like this:

1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away– and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 5 “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” 6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the Twelve– the one called Judas Iscariot– went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Mary got it.  She understood that Jesus’ purpose was to die for the sins of the world.  That is why she honored him while she could, anointing his body with a perfume so expensive that it cost what a common laborer would make in a year, probably tens of thousands of dollars today.  But Jesus was worth that much to her.  For he was the sinless Son of God, willing to give up his life for a sinner like her, in order to give her the priceless blessings of being certain, through his sacrifice, that God loved her, that her sins were forgiven, that she was reconciled to God, that heaven was her home.

Judas got it too.  He heard Jesus say that Mary had anointed him for his burial.  Judas realized, maybe much more clearly than the other disciples, that Jesus was actually going to go through with what he had been talking about for weeks- letting himself be killed by the religious leaders in Jerusalem.  So in that moment Judas made the decision to cut and run, to cash in while he still had the chance, to betray Jesus for what he could get out of it. 

Money was really Judas’ god.  For in John’s account of the anointing of Jesus in Bethany, it is Judas who objects to what Mary is doing, ranting about how that perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  John tells us that this objection was just a front, for the truth is that Judas had the habit of stealing money from the communal funds of the group.  Judas was mad that night, not because the poor were being neglected, but because he was going to have less money to steal. 

Wednesday of Holy Week, therefore, is a good day to ask ourselves, “What do I really value?  Is Jesus my greatest treasure?  Is he worth so much to me that I eagerly give him lavish love for his love for me, lavish thanks for my salvation, lavish worship for his grace, lavish obedience to his word, lavish offerings for his mission, lavish trust that he will take care of me?  Or do my attitudes and actions often reveal that I love and trust what money can give me or do for me too much?”  

Though Jesus knows what Judas is doing on Wednesday of Holy Week, Jesus washes Judas’ feet the next night.  He hosts Judas and the others disciples at the Passover meal that is meant to be enjoyed by those you consider your family.  Jesus receives Judas’ kiss of betrayal later that night.  And the next day Jesus dies for Judas and his sins.  That is what Judas was worth to Jesus. 

That is what you are worth to Jesus too, despite the ways you have valued him too little.  Remember that today.  Rejoice in the value you have in Jesus’ willing death for you, and in the value you have as a forgiven sinner today because of his death for you.  And in all the opportunities to show how much you value him as your Savior today, let thankfulness and love guide your response. 


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Tuesday of Holy Week: Devotion

TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK (Matthew 21:18-25)

Tuesday is the last day of Jesus’ public ministry, and it is mostly teaching in the temple courts.  The chief priests and elders question Jesus’ authority and are stymied when Jesus tells them he will tell them where his authority is from if they can tell him if John the Baptist was from God or not.  Jesus fends off questions designed to trip him up from both the Saducees (a liberal sect of Judaism) and the Pharisees (a conservative sect of Judaism). 

Jesus teaches about the folly of rejecting him in the parable of The Two Sons, the parable of The Tenants, and the parable of The Wedding Banquet.  Jesus calls out the Pharisees’ for their hypocrisy and condemns the city’s historic rejection of the prophets God sent to call them to repentance. 

Jesus witnesses a widow giving her last coin- all she has to live on- to the Lord in her offering at the temple.  Jesus notices in her gift the love she has for the Lord and the trust she has that he will take care of her. As Jesus IS the Lord, her faith and love had to be encouraging to him, surrounded as he is in the temple by the religious elite who hate him and want to kill him.

Greeks request to see Jesus.  The desire of these Gentiles for Jesus and his gospel is also encouraging to Jesus, and he states that their coming signals that it is time for him to be glorified by his death for the salvation of all the people in the world, Jews and Gentiles.

In private, with his disciples, Jesus speaks bluntly about Judgment Day.  He tells them what signs will precede Judgments day, and in the parable of The Ten Virgins and The Talents he teaches them how to be prepared for that day and how to live as those awaiting that day.  He tells them how the Son of Man will separate the believers from the unbelievers, giving believers eternal life in heaven and consigning unbelievers to hell.

Have you ever thought of how hard it was for Jesus to teach these things on Tuesday of Holy Week?  In the story of The Tenants, he is the son who gets murdered by the evil tenants.  He tells that story knowing the day of his death is just three days away.   How his heart had to break as he warned the people of Jerusalem yet again that destruction would be their fate if they did not repent, knowing how often they had spurned his love and his prophets for centuries and how this week would not be any different. Imagine his pain as he talked about Judgment Day, knowing that, even after his suffering and death for all people, so few would care, so few would believe, and so few would end up with him in  heaven.  But as difficult as it was for him to talk about these things, he had to.  He loved his disciples, the people of Jerusalem, and even the religious leaders who wanted to kill him.  How could they repent, how could they believe and be saved, if they did not know what was at stake in trusting in him or rejecting him; if they did not understand why they needed him and why he had to die for them.  So he spoke about these things, as painful as it was for him to do that.

His Tuesday teaching is for me and you too.  It confronts us with the folly of thinking we can blow off God and live for the here and now, and get away with a faith-life that is window-dressing hypocrisy.  It reveals to us the compassionate heart of a God who does not easily give up on us, but who loves us enough to keep warning us not to go the wrong way and who loves us enough to be the way back to God and life forever in heaven with him, even when that means the way of the cross for him.

No wonder we sing hymns with titles like “What Wondrous Love Is This?”  May that wondrous love be on your mind today, and may it always be the source of peace in your heart and purpose in your life.


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