Holy Week Devotional – Day 8 – Easter Sunday

Day 8 – Easter Sunday – Paradigm Shift
Luke 24:1-12
by Pastor David D. Lee

Some women who had followed Jesus came to the tomb early on Sunday morning to take care of the body. They knew Jesus had died and had been buried; they witnessed the whole earth-shaking scene first-hand, with their eyes and ears taking it all in. And though they had seen Jesus do some miraculous things, even raising people from the dead, well, Jesus was not there outside the tomb to perform the miracle because He was inside the tomb. Hope had died.

But God works outside of our senses and our limitations. Where hope should have died, God lives. Where the disciples were feeling lost through Saturday (the Sabbath, the day they’re supposed to feel closest to God as they honor Him), Jesus found them again. And this is where the excitement begins: our paradigm shifts when we recognize that God works outside of our human limitations. The women, were perplexed (v. 4). The angels appeared, and then they were frightened. The angels reminded them: “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee.” The women remembered (v. 8) and went to tell the apostles…but they did not believe! Paradigm shifts are hard, even when you were told about it beforehand!

Jesus was fully God but also fully man. So He died, for real, and took the punishment for our sins. But He then overcame death, and gave us hope to recognize that death is no longer standing over us with its curse, reminding us of its inevitability and permanence, killing us slowly. NO! All that came into our reality with our real sin was really done away with by Jesus’ resurrection.

That’s why the bodily resurrection is so important. If it was just Jesus’ spirit being resurrected, the weight of the curse would not have been lifted. The curse of sin was death – physical, spiritual, relational. The remedy of Christ was resurrection – physical, spiritual, relational. So Jesus spent the next few weeks convincing the disciples repeatedly of His actual bodily resurrection. Their testimonies teach us that God did indeed render sin powerless in its effects and rule. And His actions show us how faithful and patient He is in His love for us.

We rejoice in Easter because we learn of how God loved us enough to completely deal with sin’s curse. And now we truly are set free to new life in Christ! So, go, and live!

 

 

Holy Week Devotional – Week Seven

Day Seven – The Agony and Joy of Jesus
Luke 22:39-46, Hebrews 12:2
by Pastor Billy Park

Holy Saturday. That’s what they call the day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  Jesus is in the grave and the disciples have scattered and grieving without hope.  What happened on this day we probably will only know in heaven.  Did Jesus preach to the dead, or rescue the Old Testament saints, or go up to heaven before the Father, or all the above?  Let’s make sure we get to heaven so we can find out for sure.

What I would like to direct your attention to are the two different emotions or attitudes of Jesus in going to the cross.  Two emotions that seem contradictory, but both so clearly pointing to the deep pain and purpose of the cross.

In Luke’s gospel, as well as the other gospels, Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives, the mountain ridge adjacent to the east of Jerusalem, to pray with his disciples on the night before Jesus goes to the cross.  Luke describes Jesus’ obedience, “not my will, but yours, be done”, and an angel’s strengthening, yet, Jesus is described as ‘being in agony…and his sweat became like great drops of blood…” (v. 44).  Jesus did not want to go to cross.  “Father, if you are willing remove this cup from me…” (v. 42).  Why does Jesus say this?  Was he afraid?  Was he afraid to suffer and die?  Was he afraid of the scorn of men? I don’t think so, what he knew was that he would bear the weight of sin of the whole world and that his Father would turn his face against him. He who knew no sin became sin (2 Cor. 5:21) and bore the wrath of God the Father.  Wrath, not because God is mean, but because He is holy.  Jesus was in agony about bearing the wrath of God.

Yet, Jesus bore the wrath of God, not only in agony, but in JOY.  This is what Hebrews 12:2 claims, “looking to Jesus…who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” How could this be? How could Jesus be in agony and in joy?

Any mother could tell you.  The agony of labor and the joy of birth is the common experience of all mothers.  However, there are women who have late-term miscarriages and knowing their unborn child has died, they must still go through labor and delivery, but now without joy.  Pain upon pain.  This is what happened to my oldest sister about 30 years ago.  No joy, just agony.  It was one of the most painful times in our family’s history.  It was also one of those moments when the importance of our faith in Christ really became evident. It was the message of the cross and resurrection, the promise of hope even in the midst of pain and death, that carried us through and made us stronger.

Jesus endured the agony of the cross “for the joy that was set before him.”  He endured the cross for the sake of His sheep, the elect from all the world.  He knew who he was dying for.  He knew the agony he bore had a purpose – the glory of God in the salvation of His sheep from all the world.  He bore the agony because of the joy set before him – the joy of welcoming and embracing sinners like us.

Holy Week Devotional – Day Six

Day 6 – Who Is Jesus?
Luke 23:1-49
by Pastor Young Choi

We are so used to Jesus speaking in Luke’s gospel—preaching the gospel, instructing His disciples, driving out demons, and rebuking the religious leaders—that the transition to His crucifixion and death leaves us trying to understand the significance of what is transpiring. Apart from Jesus’ chastisement of the women mourning for him as he walked the long road to the site of His crucifixion, His words are few. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (v. 34). “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (v. 47)! Who was Jesus and why did he suffer and die?

We are blessed that the Lord provided us the apostles Peter and Paul to explain the true significance of Jesus’ sacrifice. Paul says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Peter states the same sentiment, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

Returning to our passage, the suffering of Jesus and His lack of words shifts the narrative to the people around him and their understanding of the events that are taking place. Herod was simply star struck and hoped to see Jesus do a few miracles (v. 8), Pilate saw Jesus as an inconvenience, wanting simply to please the masses (v. 24). The chief priests and the leaders saw Jesus as a threat and wanted him killed (v. 21). One criminal wanted to save his own skin and asked Jesus to rescue them from their fate (v. 39). The other, acknowledged Jesus’ innocent and his own guilt (v. 42). Others also, like the centurion who witnessed Jesus’ final breath (v. 47) and Joseph of Arimathea who received Jesus’ crucified body are portrayed as those who recognized His innocence.

Indeed, Jesus’ lack of words is both a fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 53:7) and the result of the sheer pain of dying on the cross, but perhaps Luke purposely throws in all of these views to bring us into the story. What is your take? Who is Jesus? A celebrity? An inconvenience? A “get out of jail free” card? Or is He the one to be resurrected in three days in power and glory?

Holy Week Devotional – Day Five

Day Five – Just As He Had Told Them
Luke 22:7-13
by Pastor Eddie Lim

In preparation for the Passover, Jesus instructs Peter and John to “go and prepare the Passover meal for us, that we may eat it.” Not knowing where to prepare the meal, they inquire of Jesus where he would want it prepared. Jesus, then, provides a set of specific instructions on what to do in what seems like an ancient game of scavenger hunt with some odd clues. Upon entering the city, Peter and John would be met with a man carrying a water jar. Now, identifying a man carrying a water jar would not be so difficult as it was quite unusual for men to be carrying water jars. That task was usually set aside for the women. But they were not to find this water jar carrying man; he would find them! But how? How would this man know who we are? And we’re supposed to just follow him?

But they do as they’re told and, just as they were told, they are met by a man carrying a water jar. Peter and John follow the man into the house he enters and inquires of the master of the house about the place where Jesus may eat the Passover with his disciples. The master of the house leads them to a furnished room where the meal could be prepared, again, just as Jesus had told them. But did Jesus somehow plan this in advance? Did he meet with the master of the house and make these arrangements without the disciples’ knowledge? Or was this just some kind of striking coincidence? Well, none of these actually. Rather, we see an amazing truth here about God’s plan of salvation.

You see, just like the details about this particular Passover meal, every single thing concerning Jesus from his birth to his earthly ministry to his death and his resurrection happened just the way God sovereignly planned it. In other words, God’s plan for the salvation of sinners through the person and work of Jesus Christ was not at all a contingency plan. It was never a plan B.

As we reflect on the cross of Jesus Christ, it’s difficult to think that this was all according to God’s plan. But the prophet Isaiah writes that “it was the will of the LORD to crush him (Isa. 53:10).” It was not by accident that Jesus’ final week would coincide with the Passover, that while many sat and ate the Passover lamb, Jesus broke bread and gave to his disciples saying, “This is my body.” It was not by accident that while many were remembering the first Passover during Israel’s final night in Egypt, the true Lamb of God would die a sinner’s death for the salvation of many. Everything happened in accordance with the Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus, in accordance with God’s sovereign plan, just as He had told them. Soli Deo gloria!

Holy Week Devotional – Day Four

Day Four – Christ in the Battle
Luke 21:1-37
by Pastor David D. Lee

This chapter of Luke begins with a beautiful picture of a widow offering her last coins to the Lord; Jesus honors her devotion. And then while the some people are gawking at the temple’s adornments, Jesus shocks them by saying those things will be destroyed, a prophetic word fulfilled when the Romans lay siege to Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

But there is more, as Jesus continues to describe difficulties to come. He paints a picture severe, scary, and sobering. Much of Christian talk today (in America) focuses on hope, love, peace, and joy, but none of those look like they belong in this picture of what will come. Jesus says, “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death” (16); He is not speaking hyperbole. And we, reading these words two millennia later, know that some of the disciples indeed suffered terribly for their faith soon thereafter. It is still happening today.

Ever since mankind first rebelled against God, a battle has raged. Man’s sinfulness unchecked would lead to the cataclysmic collapse of all that is good in the world. God said disobedience would lead to death, and it is real, raw, and depressing.

But God never withdraws His hand permanently. Jesus warns the disciples, but he comforts them as well. Because despite the presence of evil and the stubbornness of sin, Jesus overcomes all of this and redeems His people. Jesus noticed the devotion of the widow in her surrendering all to God…and that was enough. Jesus takes us as we surrender to Him and He saves us. And as we are reformed by grace, we look forward to our experience of God’s goodness restored without interference or diminishment. The path will be difficult, but he even tells his disciples not to try to plan out what to say in those moments. We are to rely upon Jesus’ provision and the Holy Spirit’s work in us.

The internet streams images of persecuted Christians from all around the world, and recent shootings inside churches in South Carolina and Texas have sent shudders into our souls. The battle rages, but for this and into this Christ came. Do not lose hope. Instead, pray with sobriety, in surrender to Christ, and for strength from Him. As we remember during this Holy Week, Christ came for us.

Holy Week Devotional – Day Three

Day Three – Made for More; Made for Christ
Luke 20:27-40
by Pastor Eddie Lim

The Old Testament law given through Moses established certain fail safes to help widows and the poor. One of these fail safes is what the Sadducees were referring to in the case of a man who dies without any descendants (Deut. 25:5-10).  The law stipulated that the deceased man’s brother would then marry the widow as a means to protect her as well as to provide a male descendant for the deceased brother.

Now, the Sadducees were a Jewish sect that did not believe in the resurrection. In an effort to disprove the resurrection, they pose this quite practical question. If the resurrection is real, whose wife will the woman be since she’s had seven husbands? Jesus responds to what may have been a head scratcher and his response reveals to us a particular truth about marriage and eternal life, namely, that marriage between a man and a woman is an earthly thing, a union that does not continue into eternity. Jesus compares “this age” to “that age” pointing to the stark difference between the now and the not yet. In the now, people “marry and are given in marriage” while in the not yet, that is eternity in heaven, people “neither marry nor are given in marriage.” There is, of course, a beautiful explanation for this. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus writes concerning marriage, “this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32).” There is no marriage union between a man and a woman in heaven because there will be only one marriage in heaven, that is, between Christ and his bride, the church.

What is your view/expectation of marriage? If you are married, would you prayerfully consider how your marriage is working to ultimately draw you and your spouse more towards God. And if you are single, would you prayerfully seek to guard against the idolatry of marriage as you find your ultimate significance, acceptance, and delight in Jesus alone.

We who were once far off have been brought near and united with Jesus. It’s a union that earthly marriage points to on this side of eternity, a profound mystery indeed, yet one that will be fully revealed in the resurrection in the great wedding feast (Rev. 19:6-10). Marriage between a man and woman is a beautiful thing and I thank God every day for my wife. But I know that she was made for more than me and I was made for more than her. We were made for more; we were made for Christ. This, he secured by his perfect life, his obedient death on the cross, and his glorious resurrection. Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Holy Week Devotional – Day Two

Day Two – Tears for Jerusalem, Anger for Sellers, & Good Words for All
Luke 19:41-48
by Pastor Young Choi

Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem to the praise and adulation of her people. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (Luke 19:38)! You could almost picture the scene of the humble king arriving seated on His colt, His apostles and followers eagerly anticipating a new chapter in the history of their holy city.  Luke’s record of Jesus’ response is unexpected and jarring.  His arrival did not inaugurate the restoration of Jerusalem, but on the contrary, it would mark her downfall and destruction.  Our Savior weeps over her ignorance and eventual destruction (v. 42-44).

Jesus proceeds to move deeper into the religious center of Israel, by entering the Temple.  Upon witnessing merchants selling oxen, sheep, and pigeons and moneychangers doing business (cf. John 3:13-17), His anger compels Him to drive them out.

In a word, Jesus is invested.  His tears over Jerusalem display the deep grief of knowing that the city chosen by God to be His dwelling would be destroyed.  Jesus displayed anger when He recognized the Holy Temple was being defiled.  His longing to see Israel repent led to His only recourse—teach and declare the Kingdom of God.  Verse 42 states that if Jerusalem “had known on this day the things that made peace.” Verse 43 echoes this sentiment.  She “did not know the time of your visitation.”  Jesus responds in the Temple, not by performing miracles, but by “teaching daily in the temple.”  The proper response to spiritual ignorance is imparting spiritual knowledge.  So what did Jesus teach?  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 1:18, 19).

We live in a time of redemptive history where God has revealed the purpose of His divine plan. In Ephesians 1:9, 10, Paul succinctly states that, in Christ, God has made “known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  Our privilege and good pleasure is to recite to ourselves and one another what the people in Jerusalem could not understand: the time of visitation, the things that make peace, the knowledge that saves are all answered in Jesus.   If our Savior is so eager to teach His audience then, surely He is eager to teach us today.  God has given to us the Bible that we may not remain ignorant of His purposes.  Let us read and be encouraged.

Holy Week Devotional – Day One

Day One – On Holy Week
Luke 19:28-40
by Pastor Billy Park

Holy. What does the word “holy” mean to you? I’m not sure if there is a definition that really does it justice. “Set apart” is often used as a definition. It’s accurate, but I like to use the following definition for holy: “most special” or “special to the utmost.”

Holy Week. Beginning with Palm Sunday and culminating with Resurrection Sunday, aka Easter, “Holy Week” has historically been the most special week in the Christian calendar. It’s a big deal for Christians. And it should be. However, it’s easy to let year after year go by without giving much thought to what these days mean. In our world of digital distractions and our preoccupation with various things that press for our time and attention, we can push “holy” things aside. What does Holy Week means in history and what does it mean to us today? These Devotionals are written to help you to see just how truly special Holy Week is. It is a collaboration by local pastors who care for our sheep and want to feed them God’s Word. Take up the Word and read.

Luke 19:28-40 is Luke’s account of the Triumphal Entry when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, a young donkey, and people praised him saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (v. 38) It is interesting in Luke’s account that you do not find the familiar word “Hosanna” (Hebrew/Aramaic: rescue, save). It might be because Luke was writing to a Gentile audience so he paraphrases with “glory in the highest” which echoes the heavenly host at the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14. Luke accurately interprets Hosanna not so much as a cry for help (“save us”) but as an adulation of praise. The crowds were praising Jesus. Probably most didn’t really know why, but Jesus still received it because Jesus is worthy of praise.  When Jesus was asked to keep his disciples’ quiet, he responded, “I tell you, if these were silent, even the very stones would cry out” (v. 40).   Why would the stones cry out praise for Jesus? Because he is the most special person, special to the utmost.  He is holy.  He is Immanuel, God with us.

The events of Holy Week play out to show who Jesus really is and what he has really come to do. It will surprise everyone in Jesus’ day. Now we know the story so we are not surprised, but we should take time to reflect on the wonder of what Holy Week is about. It is about the person and work of Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose again from death. He is worthy of our praise. Glory in the highest. “Hosanna!”  Take time today to praise Jesus for who he is and what he has done.

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