Scripture reading for February 19th: Mark 3:31-4:25, Psalms 37:12-28, Proverbs 10:5
“Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” “When He was alone, the Twelve and the others around Him asked Him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been give to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “they may be ever seeing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.”
Jesus taught in parables, stories that had hidden meanings for those with spiritual ears and eyes. The parables were simple stories that used common events and characters that would have appealed to the people of that culture and day. Jesus used these stories to hide truth from those who were not ready to hear and to aide those who were ready to learn the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. Not everyone with ears would be able to hear!
What were these secrets of the kingdom that Jesus was revealing to His disciples? This main parable about the sower, the seed, and the soils was a key parable to help understand all parables. The farmer was the Lord and those who worked for Him and the seed was God’s word. The people’s hearts were the soils spoken about here. There were various soils that represented their willingness to receive the word of God.
Jesus taught His disciples that their job was to scatter the seed as the Farmer (God) gave them opportunity. Some of the hearts where the seed fell would be hard and Satan would steal the seed before it could even begin to take root. Other hearts would be shallow, initially receiving the word, but then quickly falling away. Some would appear to have a good crop growing, but weeds representing cares of this life and the chase after riches would choke the good seed and leave no fruit. They were not to be discouraged but to continue on with their job of sowing.
The seed would have the power to bring eternal life in those who opened their hearts. It would be mysterious in the sense that a natural seed grows all by itself and this spiritual seed would work inside the heart and grow as well. (Mark 4:26-29) How is the soil of your heart today? Is the gospel seed producing fruit?
Scripture reading for February 18th: Mark 3:7-30, Psalms 37:1-11, Proverbs 10:3-4
Jesus called twelve disciples and designated them as apostles. His purpose was for them to experience life in His presence and learn from Him and then to send them out to preach and have authority to drive out demons. (Mark 3:13-14) Jesus wanted His followers to know Him by personal experience and to catch His heart as He preached the good news, healed the sick and cast out demons. (Mark 3:10-12) The good news was that the kingdom of heaven was near and all men should repent. (Mark 1:15) This message was opposed by the kingdom of Satan and his demonic spirits. A war was taking place in the spiritual realm as the King of the kingdom of heaven cast out the demons of the kingdom of Satan.
Jesus’ family heard about all that was happening and they were concerned and came to where Jesus was. A crowd had gathered with many seeking Jesus and the family members said, “He is out of His mind.” (Mark 3:21)They thought Jesus had gone crazy with this preaching and casting out demons.
“The teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the price of demons He is driving out demons.” (Mark 3:22) Jesus called them together and gave them a parable. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand. his end has come.” (Mark 3:23-26) The religious leaders of the day were quick to offer an analysis of Jesus’ method of driving out demons. They accused Jesus of using Satan’s power to drive them out. Jesus gave them a quick lesson on why that was wrong reasoning. The only way to drive out Satan, was to have superior power from God.
Jesus then warned them about their line of reasoning. “I tell you the truth, all sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, he is guilty of eternal sin.” (Mark 3:28-29) Jesus’ power came through the Holy Spirit. To accuse Jesus of using satanic power was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit! They were on dangerous ground of being eternally condemned! This is something to ponder!
Scripture reading for February 17th: Mark 2:13-3:6, Psalm 36:1-12, Proverbs 10:1-2
I have a brother that is a doctor and I respect doctors and nurses and those of the medical profession. There is much sickness in the world and people are often unable to help themselves to recover. The sicknesses and broken bones and organs require someone with skill and knowledge to bring healing and recovery. Doctors spend years in training and countless hours learning to “practice” medicine. A good doctor must interact with their patients to help them. They must listen to them and find the source of the problem. They must then walk them through the cure and monitor the progress to make sure all is going well. Each body reacts differently to medicines and some adjustments may be needed.
Jesus came to earth as the ultimate “doctor”. He had created man and knew all about the human body, soul, and spirit. He knew that sin had brought sickness and disease. He knew that the kingdom of Satan was behind sickness and death. Jesus specifically targeted those who were “sick”, and went to them with the good news of a cure! “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with Him and His disciples, for there were many who followed Him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw Him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked His disciples: “Why does He eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?” “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ” It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:15-17)
Jesus was not being partial or discriminating here. Jesus knew that all men were “sinners” and that none were righteous. Some people saw themselves as righteous and others as “sinners”. These religious people who would not acknowledge their own need would not come to a “doctor” for the healing that they needed. It is our own attitude about our sin that keeps us from finding One who can cure us. We must repent of that attitude in order to find help. Jesus comes to those who are broken and ready to acknowledge their need for healing! Why not take time and talk with Him today? If you are sick with “sin” and have broken God’s laws, repent and believe in Jesus our healer!
Scripture reading for February 16th: Mark 1:29-2:12, Psalms 35:17-28, Proverbs 9:13-18
“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but He would not let the demons speak because they knew who He was.” (Mark 1:32-34) Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God with power. The proof of this was miracles and deliverance. Jesus worked well after dark healing and delivering many in Capernaum. The whole town gathered at Peter’s mother-in-law’s house to receive healing. Crowds came to get in on what Jesus was saying and doing!
“Very early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they proclaimed: “Everyone is looking for You!” (Mark 1:35-37) The secret to Jesus’ power and authority was in prayer. Jesus took time to pray alone, seeking the Father’s will and then doing it. It would have been easy to get caught up in the crowd’s interest and adulation, but Jesus wanted to please His Father first and last!
It would have seemed the perfect opportunity to do more ministry since everyone in Capernaum was looking for Him. This was an evangelist’s dream: A large crowd of hungry people! “Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mark 1:38) Jesus did not let the crowd influence Him from doing what He came to do. He was under orders and moved because of some hidden agenda. He had business to attend to elsewhere. The crowd there had seen enough and there were many others who had not had an opportunity to experience the kingdom of God near to them. Many others were still in bondage to the kingdom of darkness!
The lesson for us today is our need to stay in focus on our mission and the means to do that. We must spend time alone with God in prayer! God has personal instructions for each of us. The crowd isn’t always right and what we did yesterday in that place isn’t necessarily what we should do today. God is looking for you and me today, in the secret place!
Scripture reading for February 14th: Matthew 28:1-20, Psalm 34, Proverbs 9:9-10
“Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph over His foes! He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His Saints to Reign! He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose! ” (Robert Lowery–1826-1899) (Low in the Grave He Lay)
This old hymn captures the essence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus died on that cross and was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man. The prophet Isaiah had written about this very thing over 700 years earlier, “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death, though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9) As He hung on the cross, He was numbered with the wicked. He was made sin with our sin. But when it was “finished”, His precious body was put in a “rich man’s” tomb! He had purchased great riches in His death. The souls of all who would believe on Him by faith were His Father’s riches! (Psalm 2:7-8) The wealth of nations would be brought to Him!
Isaiah also predicted that this suffering servant would not stay in the grave after fulfilling the Lord’s purpose for His suffering. “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand. After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge My righteous servant will justify many and He will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:10-11) God the Father sent His Son to suffer as a guilt offering for the sins of the world. After the suffering, He would again see “the light of life!” Many would be justified and God’s will would prosper through Him forever!
“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has rise, just as He said. Come see the place where He lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6) This good news has encouraged those who believe for nearly 2000 years! We serve a risen Savior who is alive! All who believe on Him can have eternal life!
Scripture reading for February 13th: Matthew 27:35-66, Psalm 33, Proverbs 9:7-8
“When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. Above His head they placed the written charge against Him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Two robbers were crucified with Him, on on His right and on on His left. Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:35-40)
It was the custom to place the charges against the criminal above their heads on the cross where they were crucified. Pilate had ordered that the charge be “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews”. The chief priests argued with Pilate and told him not to write “King of the Jews” but only that Jesus had claimed to be “King of the Jews”. Pilate was resolute and left the sign in place. (John 19:19-22) It is ironic that the sign was the truth, Jesus was and is still the King of the Jews as well as “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords”! (Revelation 19:16)
The charge was taken as a joke by the people and soldiers as well as the chief priests. They mocked and ridiculed their King, taunting Him and hurling insults at Him! As they had asked for His blood to be upon them and their children, they further incriminated themselves with the mocking. Little did they understand that this was God’s Son, and their King and Messiah. They were hardening their hearts before the one who was offering His life to save them! “He saved others,” they said, “but He can’t save Himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.” (Matthew 27:42) Even the robbers who were crucified with Him, heaped insults on Him!
One of the robbers finally did humbly ask Jesus to remember him when he came into His Kingdom. Jesus promised him he would be with Him in Paradise that day! Jesus also prayed for those who had crucified Him and taunted Him. He asked the Father to forgive them. This King of Kings is full of mercy and will save any who call on Him! Have you?
Scripture reading for February 12th: Matthew 27:15-34, Psalm 32, Proverbs 9:1-6
Jesus was tried before Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate was a politician that tried to please the people. The day of Jesus’ trial, Pilate’s wife sent him a message, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.” (Matthew 27:19) Pilate gave the crowd an opportunity to have one of those to be crucified released. He secretly hoped it would be Jesus but the crowd, whipped up by the chief priests, asked for Barabbas instead. When he tried to reason with the crowd, they shouted that Jesus should be crucified. Instead of standing for justice, Pilate washed his hands symbolically, stating that he was innocent of Jesus’ blood.
“All the people answered, “Let His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25) This statement was given by the crowd as they were worked up by the chief priests. It is ironic that the blood that Jesus shed was the very thing that they needed to cleanse them from their sins. It is the only thing in the entire universe that can atone for or cover the stain of guilt that comes from sin. They invited the judgment of God against them for shedding innocent blood when the very innocent Son of God, Jesus Christ was going to give His blood as the price for their murderous deeds!
Jesus had wanted to gather all these people under His covering as a hen would gather her chicks, but they were unwilling. (Matthew 23:37-37) There house would be left desolate. These who rejected Jesus would also bring judgment on their children. Parents have an influence on children and their decisions often affect their offspring.
As I think about “Let His blood be on us and our children”, I want the blood of Christ to cover all my sins and my children’s too. I know that as a parent I must pray for my children and live in such a way that they see Christ in my life. I also have personally taught all my children about their need for repentance and faith in Christ’s blood as the only remedy for sin. My prayer is for all my children and grandchildren to be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ! Have you asked for Christ’s blood for your family?
Scripture reading for February 11th: Matthew 26:69-27:14, Psalm 31, Proverbs 8:33-36
In our passage for today we have the personal stories of two of Jesus’ close disciples. Peter had denied Jesus three times, even calling down curses on himself! Just hours earlier, Jesus had predicted that Peter would do that. (Matthew 26:33-35) Peter had faithfully sworn that he was willing to die with Jesus rather than deny Him. He failed miserably. (Matthew 26:74-75) Judas was the treasurer of the band of disciples. He had betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and had brought the soldiers and religious leaders to the Garden of Gethsemane, kissing Jesus to identify Him.
Jesus knew beforehand about how each of these men would react during His appointment with Passover. He was compassionate toward both of them, but knew how they would ultimately respond. Some people struggle with how Judas was left to kill himself and Peter was ultimately restored. They feel that God is somehow unfair. We must understand why our personal response to God must be real repentance and not just remorse!
Judas walked with Jesus for over three years. He was treasurer of the group and Scripture records that he was a thief, often stealing from the bag for his personal needs. He betrayed Jesus for the thirty pieces of silver. At the final Passover meal, Jesus announced that one at the table would betray Him. Judas asked if it was him and Jesus identified him as the one who would betray him. (Matthew 26:20-25) He did betray Him and when He saw that Jesus was condemned, Judas was filled with remorse and threw the money back into the temple. He then went out and hanged himself.
Both Peter and Judas were disciples who followed Jesus and experienced the miracles and great teaching. Both failed the Lord, along with all their fellow disciples. Peter wept bitterly over his denials but found true repentance and restoration, going on to become one of the great leaders of the early church. Judas was full of remorse, but failed to trust God for forgiveness and restoration. He instead took his punishment into his own hands and committed suicide. Remorse and repentance sound similar, but are very different. Remorse is only sorrow over sin, often just sorrow over being found out. Repentance is sorrow that produces a change in behavior and attitude. (2nd Corinthians 7:8-11) One leads to hell, the other to heaven!
Scripture reading for February 10th: Matthew 26:47-68, Psalm 30, Proverbs 8:27-32
“Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” ” Matthew 26:50b-54)
Immediately after Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, the soldiers and religious leaders stepped forward and arrested Jesus. Peter reacted boldly by drawing his sword and nearly did away with a man, cutting off his ear. Luke records that Jesus touched this servant’s ear and healed him immediately. (Luke 22:51) Jesus rebuked his disciple, telling him to put the sword away. Jesus assured Peter and the others that He had the power and ability to call for angelic help at any time. However, Jesus had spent the night in prayer and had wrestled through his own fears and desire to have the cup of sin and suffering removed. He had submitted to God’s will. (Matthew 26:36-39) How else would the Scriptures be fulfilled? Jesus was the “Word” made flesh and honored His Father by keeping and fulfilling the sacred and holy Scriptures. (John 1:14)
After addressing the crowd there in the Garden and rebuking those who came at night to arrest Him, He finished by telling them all that “this all had taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” (Matthew 26:56) Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12) Zechariah 13:7 is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 26:31, concerning striking the shepherd and the sheep being scattered. False witnesses were brought to accuse Him. (Psalm 27:12, 35:11) Jesus was to be offered as the sacrifice for our sins, remaining silent before those who accused Him. (Isaiah 53:4-12) He would be given a grave with the rich in His death. He would be resurrected–seeing the light of life! He would bear the sins of many and be numbered with the transgressors! Scripture must be fulfilled!
Aren’t you thankful that Jesus did not call the legions of angels? Take time today to thank Him for His faithfulness!