"He then began to teach them that the Son man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and He must be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this".
(Mark Ch 8 vs 31 and 32 ).
The journey to Jerusalem moves up a gear and Jesus begins to inform the disciples what will happen there. This will be no ordinary sight seeing trip to the capital but it is one that will have disastrous consequences for their Master. He tells them that He "must" suffer many things and that He "must" be killed. There is an inevitability about what He says.
He speaks plainly to them about what will happen and doesn't hide anything from them. He tells them the truth and how humbling for us to be aware that it was for us He hung and suffered there. But let us not lose sight of the final part of the Lord's pronouncement, " and after three days rise again!".
"Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so".
A prayer:- Lord, you hide nothing from us in Your Word. Help us to see that you had to suffer and to die for us that our sins might be forgiven. Amen.
"They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because He was teaching His disciples. He said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise'. But they did not understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it."
(Mark Ch 9 vs 30 to 32).
He told them once and He tells them a second time, yet the impact of what He is saying hasn't 'dawned' on them. John later tells us that it was only after Jesus was glorified that they realised that these things had been written about Him; (John Ch 12 v16). As we progress on the road to Jerusalem we too may have questions on our minds about 'Why?' it had to be this way and 'Why' Jesus had to suffer yet we progress along this road in faith, believing it is by grace through faith that we are saved. A little later a man came to Jesus saying, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief". May God by His Spirit grant us an insight into the meaning of His total love for us, even to a Cross.
"Give me a sight, O Saviour, of Thy wondrous love to me, of the love that brought Thee down to earth, to die on Calvary.
O make me understand it, help me to take it in, what it meant to Thee, the Holy One, to take away my sin."
A prayer:- 'Lord, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.' Amen.
"For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."
(1 Corinthians Ch 11 v 26)
As we eat bread today and drink from the cup may we be eternally grateful for the broken body and shed blood of our Lord for our sakes.
"This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all.....if we walk in the Light, as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin."
( 1 John Ch 1 vs 5 and 7).
John told us that, "God is love" and he also tells us that, "God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." We experience increasing daylight hours at this time yet the nearer we get to Jerusalem with Jesus on that road the dark storm clouds are beginning to gather and the outlook for Good Friday is anything but good! Looking beyond, the outlook is bright in the glory of the Easter Day. Jesus is the Light of the world and He tells us that whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness but have the light of life; (John Ch 8 v 12).
We walk with Him to Jerusalem where we will be purified of our sins so that in Him we may have life in the marvellous light of His love.
"Lord the Light of Your love is shining, in the midst of the darkness shining; Jesus light of the world shine upon us, set us free by the truth You now bring us ...Shine on me...Shine on me...Shine, Jesus, shine..."
A prayer; "Jesus, Light of the world, set me free from my sins today and shine the Light of Your love upon me. " Amen.
"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"
(Romans Ch 8 vs 31 and 32).
Palm Sunday is just 2 weeks off and Jerusalem is closing in. As we follow Jesus on that road so we ask with the Apostle Paul, 'What, then, shall we say in response to this?' What is our response to the God who is for us and did not spare His own Son for us, giving Him up for us? He graciously gives in love. He gives us His forgiveness, peace, grace, and hope, - all given in love. The concluding verses of Romans Ch 8 tell us that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We can but respond with total thanksgiving and gratitude to our Lord and our God.
“O love, that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee, I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow, may richer, fuller be."
A prayer: - 'How we praise You, Lord, for the love of Jesus which will never let us go and from which nothing can ever separate us. May that love rest in our hearts today.'
"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened up for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a Great Priest over the House of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.."
(Hebrews Ch 10 vs 19 to 22)
The road to Jerusalem would be a busy road. It is the road to the Temple, and to the centre of trade and business. For Jesus it is a one way street. There are no "U" turns, no shortcuts, no roundabouts, no by-pass. It is the Via Dolorossa, the way of the Cross, and there is no other way, and we have to take that route with Him.
But the promise of Jesus is of a new and a living way as He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. As He dies on the Cross the great curtain of the Temple was torn in two and the way to God was opened up for us, and through Jesus, the Living Way, we have access to God.
"Thou art the Way; to Thee alone from sin and death we flee; and he who would the Father seek must seek Him, Lord, by Thee."
A prayer: - "Thank you, our heavenly Father, that in Jesus we have a Great High Priest through whom we can come to You." Amen.
"Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
(1 Corinthians Ch 13 vs 12 and 13).
It was a misty morning as dawn was breaking today, but the mist cleared as the sun rose.
For Jesus, Jerusalem is coming into view but for the disciples it is a misty view as uncertainty lay before them and they saw what Paul calls, 'a poor reflection". It was only as the Son rose that the mist began to clear and their understanding increased.
As we go forward into this season and continue on into life's journey may we walk with a rock solid faith in God; may we live in a certain hope day by day; and becoming increasingly aware that, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Then we shall see face to face and we will know fully even as we are fully known.
'Love Divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down .....Finish then Thy new creation: pure and spotless let us be; let us see Thy great salvation perfectly restored in Thee...'
A prayer:- 'Lord, open our eyes today that we may see your glory in Jesus and in the world around us'. Amen.
"I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber; .... the Lord watches over you... :
(Psalm 121 vs 1, 2, 3 and 5).
Palm Sunday is 6 days off. Our verses today form part of a group of Psalms called The Psalms of Ascent. They would be repeated by worshippers making their way to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple at Festival time. Seeing the hills surrounding Jerusalem would bring a sense of security and assurance to the worshipping pilgrims as they made their way up to the city. Jesus would be very familiar with these words and as He is now just a few days away from the city He would be greatly reassured that His Heavenly Father was right there with Him, as certainly as the hills He could see, and His Father was watching over Him and would not let His foot slip. May such thoughts bring a sense of peace and reassurance to us as we approach Jerusalem with the Lord.
"On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross, the emblem of suffering and shame; and I love that old Cross, where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain..."
A prayer: -
'Loving God, as you walked with Jesus on that road, so walk with us whatever road we may be walking'.
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Hinself will redeem Israel from all their sins." (Psalm 130 vs 5 to 8)
3 more days and then it will be Palm Sunday. The pilgrims begin the final ascent to Jerusalem, reciting and meditating on their Psalms of Ascent, such as our verses today. For many it will have been a torturous and difficult road, bivouaking on the way, rising to each new dawn and wondering which way to turn and which direction to take. Five times in our four verses today the instruction is to wait on the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
They are to wait on the Lord and put their hope in His Word before heading out into a new day and thus allowing the Lord of unfailing love, in whom is full redemption, to go before them. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our paths. Jesus is the Word become flesh and He is heading before us in the direction of Jerusalem, there to redeem us. So, Ready, Steady, ...and wait on the Lord, putting your hope in His Living Word.
'I do not know what lies ahead, the way I cannot see; but one stands near to be my Guide... He'll show the way to me.'
A prayer:- 'Lord, grant me the patience today to wait on you and to listen out for the sound of Your voice in Your Word.' Amen
"Hosanna; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord" (Mark 11.9)
"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest."
In all humility we wait upon the Lord in our worship today.
"When Jesus had finished all these things, He said to His Disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away - and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.' Then the chief priests and elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill Him."
(Matthew Ch 26 vs 1 to 4)
These verses surely rank amongst some of the saddest verses in Scripture about Jesus. We read that He finished saying all these things. This marks the end of His human Ministry which was launched at His baptism three years earlier. The sly plot was now being hatched to arrest Him and have Him killed. But God cannot be thwarted.
John Ch 1 v 5 reassures us that the Light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it. From the Cross comes the Easter Day to be followed by the giving of the Spirit, and the Light still shines. We have the Word of God, and as John tell us after the resurrection, 'But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His Name. 2000 years on the message still rings true and His Word is still being proclaimed, and the mission of Jesus is not finished.
'Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us, born as one of us, Mary's son; led out to die on Calvary, risen from death to set us free; living Lord Jesus, help us see. You are Lord!'
A prayer :-
'Living Lord, break through into my life today with Your eternal message of love and hope.'
"He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things....He spoke plainly about this and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan!' , He said, 'you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men'.".
Mark Ch 8 vs 31, 32, 33).
Jesus has just dropped a bombshell. It is explosive, devastating, horrific news. The One the disciples had left all to follow three years earlier was going to be killed!! No way!, says Peter, and stands in the way of Jesus heading for Jerusalem, thus rebuking Him. Jesus in turn rebukes Peter with strong words telling him to stand back for to prevent Jesus going forward was tantamount to siding with the enemy of God. It has to be, hard though it was for the disciples and hard though it is for us to walk with Jesus on that road of the Father's plan with its inevitable end.
"There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin; He, only, could unlock the gate of Heaven and let us in".
A prayer: - " Lord, help us to make way for You in our lives, and not to stand in the way of the Father's will." Amen.
"They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again He took the twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to Him. 'We are going up to Jerusalem', He said, 'and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise".
(Mark Ch 10 vs 32 to 34).
Jesus leads the way to Jerusalem and as the disciples follow they are astonished and fearful. Once again Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms what awaits Him, and them, in Jeusalem. He will be betrayed, condemned, mocked, spat on, flogged and killed. THREE DAYS LATER HE WILL RISE. We read that He tells them this three times and possibly He told them at several other times as well. It is a message that lies at the heart of the Gospel and one we need to hear over and over again especially when we are fearful like the disciples. In all we are facing in our lives and in the Church, in our nation and in the world, we must allow Jesus to lead the way and to be aware that following Calvary there is the Resurrection.
'The Saviour died, but rose again triumphant from the grave; And pleads our cause at God's right hand, omnipotent to save.
Let troubles rise and terrors frown, and days of darkness fall; Through Him all dangers we'll defy, and more than conquer all.'
A prayer:- ' Go ahead of us, Lord, into this day and may our eyes be constantly fixed on You and the victory You have won for us.' Amen.
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
(1 John Ch 4 v 10).
Jesus presses on with focused and rugged determination. Nothing and no one will distract Him from His goal and His mission. He is totally motivated by His Father's love for Him, His beloved Son, and He is unswervingly obedient to the will of His Father who sent Him. Together, the Father and the Son are united in their absolute love for us even to a Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
"Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
A prayer;- 'Loving Lord, help me to be more aware today of just how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.' Amen.
"For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the Cross."
(Colossians Ch 1 vs 19 and 20).
With the news this week of the easing of some lockdown restrictions there will be some reunions taking place, and we have already seen pictures of such reunions in Care Homes . Jesus heads for Jerusalem to bring about an infinitely greater reconciliation in that by the His sacrifice we are reconciled to God having been separated from Him by our sins. In Jesus and through the cost He has paid we have peace with God. In His Letter to the Ephesians Ch 2 v 13, Paul writes, 'But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.' -
"I will proclaim the glory of the Risen Lord, who once was slain to reconcile man to God. Forever You will be the Lamb upon the throne; I gladly bow the knee and worship You alone."
A prayer:- 'We praise You, Almighty God, that You welcome us to Your Throne of Grace through the blood of Jesus. Grant us Your peace today.'
"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory"
May we be aware of the glory of the Lord as we worship Him today.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible".
(Hebrews Ch 11 vs 1 to 3).
The faith of Jesus is resolute and strong, pressing on with rugged determination towards Jerusalem. Nothing and no one will distract Him, trusting totally in His heavenly Father, that if He is faithful to the Cross then there will be a resurrection and a return to His Father's right hand side. Ephesians Ch 2 v 8 tells us, 'For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith'. May we have such a faith and trust in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us.
The hymn, "In heavenly love abiding", has two significant lines : 'He knows the way He taketh and I will walk with Him' and 'my Saviour has my treasure, and I will walk with Him.' So we walk a little bit further on that road with Him today.
"My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Saviour Divine. Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away; O let me from this day- be wholly Thine".
A prayer :- 'Father, I thank you for the faithful obedience of Jesus to Your will, even to a Cross; help me to trust and obey for there is no other way'. Amen
"But Joseph said to them, 'Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish the saving of many lives, so don't be afraid I will provide for you and your children'. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them."
(Genesis Ch 50 v 19 - 21).
These are the words of Joseph as he confronts the brothers who years earlier had sold him into slavery in Egypt. The brothers on later encountering Joseph are fearful he will pay them back for the way they had maltreated him. Joseph reassures them by saying that God had transformed their wrongful act into good purpose by providing food for them in a time of famine.
As Jesus gets ever nearer to Jerusalem plans are being hatched and a web is being woven to do away with this "trouble maker" from Galilee. But our transforming God is able to transform that aweful Friday into a Good Friday for the forgiveness of our sins and to save us for new life in the Resurrection. With God, all things are possible; so may our lives be reassured today.
"Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, how great Thou art, How great Thou art... '
A Prayer: - " Transforming God, work in my heart today and bring about Your own good purposes in me.' Amen.
"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds His people both now and for ever. "
(Psalm 125 vs 1 and 2).
Palm Sunday is 5 days off. The pilgrims on the road are increasing in number, including Jesus and the Disciples, making their way to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Hills can be eye catching like, for example, the approach to Brodick Pier and seeing the majesty of Goat Fell on a clear day. For the pilgrims it is Mount Zion which comes into view, which is of a similar height to Goat Fell and is similarly awesome. As Mount Zion to the Psalmist cannot be shaken so Jesus cannot be shaken from the mission on which He embarks.
He is steadfast in His approach to the city, fully aware of the consequences for Him. But as the Psamist uses the illustration of the hills surrounding Jerusalem so Jesus is aware of the love of His Heavenly Father surrounding Him and embracing Him. May we too be aware of the everlasting arms surrounding us on our journey of life as we trust in Him.
"You are before me God, You are behind, and over me You have spread out Your hand; such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too high to grasp, too great to understand."
A prayer: - 'Gracious God, help me to feel your love and Your peace unfolding me today'. Amen.
"I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the House of the Lord".
Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the Name of the Lord, according to the statutes given to Israel."
(Psalm 122 vs 1 to 4)
2 more days and then it is Palm Sunday. For the pilgrim in our verses today it is an exhilarating and joyful experience. Having responded to the invitation of friends to join them on the way to the House of the Lord for the Passover Festival, the pilgrim is quite overcome to find their feet standing on the threshold of the city gates.
As Jesus was setting out on this last journey to Jerusalem, He invites His Disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.' (Mark Ch 8 v 34).
As we set foot in Jerusalem in worship in this week to come may we be overwhelmed, like our pilgrim today, as we see God's love for us in Jesus on Good Friday, and His power at work in the victory of the Easter Morning.
'Jesus is Lord, yet from His throne eternal in flesh He came to die in pain on Calvary's tree. Jesus is Lord! From Him all life proceeding, yet gave His life a ransom thus setting us free.
Jesus is Lord! O'er sin the mighty Conqueror, from death He rose and all His foes shall own His Name. Jesus is Lord! God sends His Holy Spirit to show by works of power that Jesus is Lord'
A prayer:- ' Lord, guide our feet today and into the week ahead that we might see the wonders of Your love. ' Amen.
"Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds'.".
(John Ch 12 v 23 and 24).
Jesus is now firmly established in Jerusalem and the clock is ticking. He is making the most of every available minute to teach in the Temple precincts and in the city, proclaiming the message of God's truth and using many illustrations to do so.
Jesus is that grain of wheat who will fall into the ground and die, as a result of which new life will come. Still today where the Gospel message of God's love in Jesus is proclaimed, new growth comes in transformed hearts and changed lives, to the glory of God and to the honour of His Name. May that be so in this week, according to God's will and by the power of His Spirit.
'O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee; I lay in dust life's glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red - life that shall endless be. '
A prayer : -
'Eternal and ever loving God, may the seed of Your love for us in Jesus take root and grow in this day and in this week.'
"After six days, Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There He was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses who were talking with Jesus. .. Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud, 'This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!'."
(Mark Ch 9 vs 2 to 4 and 7).
The clock is ticking, the journey continues and today we read of a diversion but one with a clear and distinct purpose on the part of our Lord. Ascending the mountain the disciples are given an insight into the heavenly glory as Jesus is transformed before them and as He speaks with the prophets of old. This is the glory from which the Saviour came and the glory to which He will return after the Cross and the resurrection. But the Cross comes first and this interlude is given to reassure the disciples and to reassure us. The voice of God speaks to the disciples to confirm that they must listen to what Jesus is telling them about what will happen in Jerusalem just as we too must listen to what Jesus is telling us.
"Master speak! Thy servant heareth, waiting for Thy gracious Word...I am listening, Lord, for Thee, what hast Thou to say to me."
A prayer: - "Lord, help me to listen out for the sound of Your voice and to learn from Your Word." Amen.
"They came to Capernaum. When they were in the house, He asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?'. But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, 'If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last and the servant of all'.
(Mark Ch 9 vs 33 to 35)
Jesus has been at pains to inform the disciples about the forth coming events in Jerusalem but how were the disciples taking this news? Unable to take it in they instead are having an argument on the road about who was the greatest among them and they couldn't bring themselves to tell Him about their 'discussion'. He in turn tells them about where their priorities must lie as they follow the One who in all humility is The Servant who will give of His life as a ransom for many. Earlier He had said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow me.' (Mark Ch 8 v 34).
'May the mind of Christ my Saviour live in me from day to day, by His love and power controlling, all I do and say'.
A prayer:- ' Lord, help me to follow you on that road in all humility and in love.' Amen.
"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God and we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love!".
(1 John Ch 4 vs 14 to 16)
It must be one of the most profound statements in Scripture, if not the most profound - 'God is love'. His love is total; His love is absolute and forms the substance of His being. He creates in love, and acts in love. Like Father, like Son, and the Father was pleased to have all His fulness dwell in the Son. Every step taken on that road to Jerusalem was taken in love for us, and Jesus carries the burden of our sins in love to dispose of them in His death on the Cross. In love, He is the Saviour of the world. So we follow Him and rely day by day on His love to sustain us, support us and uphold us and forgive us.
"Oh, the deep, deep, love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless, free. Rolling like a mighty ocean in its fullness over me."
A prayer:- 'We praise and honour You, Lord, for the boundless and limitless love of Jesus which will never let us go and from which nothing can separate us.' Amen.
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
(Romans Ch 5 vs 6 to 8).
Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem; will He and His disciples get there in time? Time for the Passover? Time for Good Friday? The Gospel records specifically tell us that Jesus died at the 9th hour which is 3pm on that Friday afternoon. Our reading today tells us that Jesus died at, "..just the right time". The right time for you, the right time for me, which in the full scale of eternity was in the Father's plan of salvation. In the same way we read that Jesus was born, 'When the time had fully come, God sent His Son' ; (Galatians Ch 4 v 4).
At just the right time, 3pm on that Friday, there is a demonstration at Calvary. It's a demonstration of love in the love that God has for us that He was willing to give of His only Son for our salvation.
"My Jesus, my Saviour, Lord, there is none like You ; All of my days, I want to praise, the wonders of Your mighty love..."
A prayer:- 'Timeless and eternal God, thank You for giving me the, 'time of my life', and thank You for giving of Jesus for me at just the right time.'
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
(Ephesians Ch 3 vs 17 to 19).
50 years ago past on the 15th of February, for those who are old enough to remember, we were coming to terms with the introduction of decimalisation. Old pence became new pence, sixpences and shillings disappeared, and still we might ask, 'what was that in old money?'. This was followed by the introduction of litres, grammes and kilogrammes, metres and kilometres.
The Apostle Paul is introducing the Christians in Ephesus to a new measure and it is the measure of the love of Christ. The road He walks for us is 'The long walk to freedom' so that we might be filled with the measure of the fullness of God. The unit of the measurement of God's love = 1 Cross in Jesus. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift', who is immeasurable.
"How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure..",
A prayer: - "Lord, help us today and in this season to get the full measure of Your love for us in Jesus " Amen.
"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." "But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
(Roman's Ch 5 vs 2 and 5 and Ch 8 vs 24 and 25).
We could imagine the Disciples saying to one another as they followed Jesus on the route to Jerusalem, 'I hope He knows what He is doing!' They did not understand what He was doing and John tells us in Ch 2 v 22, 'It was only after Jesus was raised from the dead, His Disciples recalled what He said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken". Jesus knew precisely what He was doing and what would happen to Him, just as He had explained to the Disciples several times. He was going there to attain for us the hope of glory, in which we truly rejoice.
The hymn, 'Will your anchor hold', is based on words from the Letter to the Hebrews, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf."
What a hope! Hallelujah!
"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness....on Christ the solid rock, I stand...."
'Thank you, Lord, for the Living Hope that we have in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Help us to live in that hope today.' Amen.
"Praise the Lord. Praise, O servants of the Lord! - praise the Name of the Lord. Let the Name of the Lord be praised, both now and for evermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the Name of the Lord is to be praised"
(Psalm 113 vs 1 to 3)
On this lovely sunny morning may the Name of the Lord be praised in our worship wherever we are.
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, 'Peace be within you.' For the sake of the House of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity."
(Psalm 122 vs 6 to 9).
Palm Sunday is 4 days off. The destination is in sight. The name Jerusalem means, City of Peace and another of the Psalms the pilgrims would recite and chant on their way to the Passover Festival contains the words in our verses today, as they would pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The week ahead would be anything but peaceful but the peace Jesus will win for us in the City of Peace is a lasting peace which passes all understanding.
In the Upper Room, the night before the crucifixion, He says to His Disciples, '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 Ch 14 v 27). Jesus is our peace and may that peace be ours today and in this season.
"Peace I give to you, I give to you My peace. Peace I give to you, I give to you My peace.
Let it flow to one another, let it flow to one another, let it flow, let it flow."
A prayer: - 'Help us Lord to be still and to know that You are God. Instill Your peace within our hearts today' Amen.
"As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany, Jesus sent two of His Disciples, saying to them, 'Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, "why are you doing this?", tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.'."
(Mark Ch 11 vs 1 to 3.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and Jesus is making advance preparations to enter the city. He has prearranged for the colt of a donkey to be made available to Him, and He gives His Disciples instructions accordingly. This will be the very first time this animal has been ridden and in riding this donkey Jesus is making a bold statement.
This is a beast of burden that has never borne such a burden as Jesus will demonstrate that He as the One and only Son of God, will take on Himself, as never before, the burden of our sins. In total humility He enters the city. He makes Himself nothing, humbling Himself, and becomes obedient to death - even the death of a Cross.
"My song is love unknown; my Saviour's love to me; love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.
O, who am I, that for my sake, My Lord should take frail flesh and die.
A prayer: - "Dear Lord, arriving at Jerusalem with Jesus, prepare me for all I will see and hear in this week."
"Then Jesus told them this parable, 'suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, He joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, 'Rejoice with me, I have found my lost sheep,' ."
(Luke Ch 15 vs 1 to 6).
The Apostle Paul refers to our Lord in this week as the Passover Lamb. Jesus in His ministry uses the illustration of lambs, sheep and shepherds to make significant points. In the parable in our verses today we see the very personal and individual way in which the Lord cares for each one of us.
We are not just a number but He knows us each by name. He tells us that, ' I know my sheep and my sheep know me'. Can our relationship with the Lord be anymore personal than that? Jesus tells us, 'I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.' (John Ch 10 v 11). This is what Jesus is doing for us on Good Friday in a unique and individual way as our personal Good Shepherd.
'The King of love MY Shepherd is, whose goodness faileth never. I nothing lack if I am His and He is MINE forever '.
A prayer: - "Thank you, Lord, for being the Good Shepherd who found me and laid down His life for me '.
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