Welcome!

Welcome to the Path of Life Daily Devotional–continuing for 2021–The Jesus Story!

The Pathsrp-experiment of Life daily devotions are designed to be an aid to daily prayer.  This year I am posting daily narratives from the Life of Christ, beginning with the Gospel of Mark.  Matthew’s Gospel was the source of devotions from March-May.  Dr. Luke’s account gives us June-August.  Next, we are wind up the Story with the Gospel of John from September-November.  December will feature the Christmas Story. As in all my devotions, I will use a single word title followed by a few selected verses on the subject, and concluding with  a prayer and a song.

Join me for a detailed walk through the Life of our Lord in this devotional form.  If you haven’t already “followed” these devotions, please select that button and register to receive email notification of each posting, including those at StevePhifer.com.  Let’s draw closer to the Savior in 2021!

The Path of Life Daily Devotions work for morning or evening.
Start your day or end your day with an encouraging word.

Each devotion, in fact each article I write, ends with the same signature:
Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

Semper Reformanda!
Semper Reformanda! is my ministry motto. It means “Always Reforming.” The church must never stop progressing toward the Coming of the Lord. We must never cease to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We must never stop seeking God’s Face. We must never restrain from testing all things to see if they are from the Lord. This ongoing process requires a growing knowledge of what God has said and a listening ear to what God is saying. If we are not constantly vigilant in these things, our lives will be tossed about by the unrelenting winds of culture. If we are constantly available to the Spirit for instruction in righteousness, we will build our lives on the Rock! To me, Semper Reformanda! is each day’s work as we walk the Path of Life.

 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

To begin reading the devotions for this year go to the end of this article.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

Interested in Christian Worship and Spirituality?–That is my subject!  For an extensive of articles on Worship  and Worship Renewal Go To StevePhifer.com.

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March 4 “Egypt”

Egypt


The Jesus Story contains one of the strangest and most unlikely of prophecies: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Naming the tiny town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Messiah was odd enough, but to name Egypt as a source for Messiah is odd beyond belief and yet it happened. This story is laden with these amazing incidences of fulfilled prophecy. One of Matthew’s purposes in writing his version of the life of Christ is to point these things out to his Jewish readers. Jesus was a Jew and He was the Jewish Messiah as well as the Savior of the World. Matthew’s account springs from a deep love for God’s Chosen People.

Not the First Time
This was not the first call “out of Egypt” in the plan of God to save the world. Before there could be a Jewish Messiah to save the world, there had to be a Jewish nation. God called Abraham out of his homeland to find a new one and found the Hebrew nation. Generations later, famine drove the children of Israel (Jacob, Abraham’s heir) into Egypt for survival. Safety became slavery when Egyptian leaders came to power who did not know Joseph. Through the stammering lips of Moses, God called His Chosen People out of Egypt. With a mighty hand deliverance was won. It took a generation of faithless wandering in the wilderness for the nation to finally return to the Promised Land. In that wilderness the people learned how to worship God. They learned the laws of the Covenant which would guide them in their re-won homeland. Though they found the land full of enemies, when their worship was right, God’s hand, the same mighty hand that called them out of Egypt, was with them to subdue the land promised to them.

The Lessons of Egypt
Former Egyptian slaves became landowners and craftsmen, people of creativity and commerce. Realize this, the Hebrews went into Egypt a nation of herdsmen. They were called out of Egypt as a nation of craftsman. Craftsmanship has been a mark of God’s people ever since. Work is holy and is another form of worship honoring God. The wonderful Tabernacle they built in the wilderness was manufactured with this formula:

  1. The plans of God from Mt. Sinai,
  2. The materials of Egypt given to the Israelites as they were set free, and
  3. The skills the people had learned in Egypt.

This is still the formula for Christian living today:

  1. The Word of God as our Guide,
  2. The redeemed systems of the fallen world (education, true science, technology, etc,) and
  3. The skills of our own hands (craftsmanship, creativity, hard work, and diligent study.)

With this three-fold blessing, we are called out of the world to minister to the world.

The Holy Family in Egypt
Matthew gives us no details of how long Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt or what they did while there. No purpose is served if we speculate on these things. The immediate cause was the hostility of King Herod. It was imperative to remove Jesus from the reach of the wicked king. Upon news of his death, they returned to Israel. How ironic that God would use a heathen nation to protect His Son from the King of Israel. Once again, “Out of Egypt…”

Scriptures:
Matthew 2:13-15
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Hosea 11:1
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You came so far to find us and redeem us. And when You came to this earth, You were in immediate danger. King Herod was the first but he was not the last to seek Your life. Through it all, You were protected, even by a journey to Egypt, the very symbol of sin. You were, indeed, as the Scripture predicted called out of Egypt. In the end, no one was able to take Your life; You gave it willingly for our sake, for my sake. Then, You were called out of the tomb. Next, You were called out of this world to regain the throne of Heaven. Soon, You will call us out of this world, this Egypt, to be with You forever. Amen and Amen!

Song:
Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne
Words: E. S. Elliot; Music: Timothy R. Matthews

1. Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

2. Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,
Proclaiming Thy royal degree;
But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,
And in great humility.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

3. The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest
In the shade of the forest tree;
But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,
In the deserts of Galilee.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

4. Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
That should set Thy people free;
But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,
They bore Thee to Calvary.
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.

5. When the heavens shall ring, and the angels sing,
At Thy coming to victory,
Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,
There is room at My side for thee.”
My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,
When Thou comest and callest for me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

March 3 “Stars”

Stars

To the ancient mind, stars had to be more than twinkling lights in the night sky. They had to mean something.
They had no idea that stars were really suns and the distances involved were well beyond their understanding. Night after night wise men studied the stars, noting what seemed to be their movements across the sky. With imaginations more highly developed than their science, they created meanings and gave them significance in their own lives.

Wise Men from the East
Matthew tells us of a group of these men of intelligence and careful observation. They saw a new star and determined that it was there to lead them to Messiah. Like the ancient astronomers who filled in the details with their imaginations, Christian tradition has filled in missing details about the Wise Men.

  • Because three gifts are mentioned, there were three Wise Men.
  • They were Kings.
  • Their names were Caspar and Balthazar and their leader, Melchior.
  • In addition to the stars, it is possible they had copies of the writings of the Hebrew prophets left over from the Babylonian Captivity.
  • They arrived the night Jesus was born and joined the shepherds at the manger. The account of Matthew hints that perhaps they came later but the image of kings and shepherds kneeling together at the manger is irresistible and speaks to the meaning of Christmas.

When writing about the Wise Men, these inventions come in handy. In this telling we will hold to the details given by our reporter, Matthew.

Kings and More Kings
If the Wise Men were indeed kings, it makes sense that they consulted with King Herod.

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

If these men had any sense of discernment at all, they sensed that Herod was not a friend of the Child they were seeking. Troubled by their inquiry, Herod assembled his advisors to learn what they knew about where Messiah was to be born. Bethlehem was the place foretold by prophecy. Herod met again with the Wise Men to find out when the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem with a false promise to join them in worship of the child.

Following the Star
Uneasy from their interview with Herod, they followed the star to Bethlehem where it stopped over the house where they found the Christ-child. Forgetting Herod for a moment they rejoiced with great joy. Entering the house they were overcome by the holiness of the presence of Jesus and they fell to the floor in worship. They recovered enough to present their valuable gifts, each one significant in its own way:

  • Gold, a precious metal and provision for the family,
  • Frankincense, a precious resin used in the sacrifices of worship in the Temple, and
  • Myrrh, a holy ingredient in the anointing oil used to indicate God’s choice of an individual.

Being warned in a dream of Herod’s treachery, their scene in the Jesus Story completed, the Wise Men returned to their homes. It is certain they would never be the same. The presence of Jesus does that to people.

Scriptures:
Matthew 2:1-12
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'” Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Micah 5:2
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the Morning Star! My guide through this life! I will follow You wherever You lead. Like the Wise Men, I will seek Your face and fall prostrate before You in deepest worship. I will offer to You the best gifts of my life. May Your Spirit give me discernment to see the hearts of those who hate You and avoid their schemes. As I behold Your glory in worship, change me, O Lord, from glory to glory until Your likeness can be seen in me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Song:
In Your Presence
Words and Music by J.D. and Stephen Phifer

1. When the chill of life’s cold wind blows ‘round me,
I can call on Your name in my grief.
And You are there every time when I need You.
Wrapping me in a blanket of Peace.

Refrain:
In Your presence, In Your presence, there is joy.
In Your presence, In Your presence, there is peace.
Let me linger, let me stay in Your presence, I pray,
Till Your likeness can be seen in me.

2. O how sweet just to wait in Your presence,
Just to know in my soul You are near.
I’m restored by the touch of Your hand, Lord;
Lifted up when it’s Your voice I hear.

Refrain

3. How we need to spend time in Your presence,
To draw away from this world’s frantic pace.
Let us dwell in the glow of Your nearness,
Hold us close in Your healing embrace.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

 

March 2 “Christ-child”

Christ-child

The miracle of the Incarnation is that God became a man.
The wonder of it all is that He became an infant, the most powerless of all human beings. This is the central mystery and fact of Christianity. It is a fact attested to by the most numerous and ancient of historical sources. No theologian has ever explained how it was done. In the early centuries of the church, leaders expended much effort and time and resources in conferences to try and figure whether Jesus was a man who became God or was He God in the form of man or something in between these possibilities. Various Creeds like the Nicene Creed go into detail to express the nature of God as a confessed belief and this is helpful. Statements of faith are needed but an explanation is not. We simply accept by faith that Jesus was both God and man, both at the same time. In order to become the Christ-child, the pre-incarnate Jesus had to lay aside His divine nature and take up His human nature. This is a mystery not to be explained, but to be believe and to confessed in worship.

The Most Promising Young Couple in Nazareth
In my imagination, they were the pride of the village.

  • Joseph was an excellent craftsman with his own profitable shop. He was a man of integrity in business and piety in his religion. He knew the scriptures so well, the village children would gather into his shop after class to hear his wisdom on the lessons of the day. He specialized in prophecies of Messiah.
  • Mary was as perfect for him as he was for her. She was the model of beauty and modesty. Her cheerful spirit always brightened the mood wherever she went. Most of the young men were intimidated by her and most of the other girls found her so genuine they could not even envy her—except perhaps for her Joseph.

All in all their betrothal was a bit of good news in those troubled times. People found hope for the nation in young people such as these.

“Before they came together…”
They were not yet husband and wife when Mary realized that she was pregnant. We know from other sources that she had been visited by the angel Gabriel and told that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her leaving her with child. It happened just as Gabriel said and Mary had the difficult duty of telling Joseph. As a carpenter, Joseph knew the measure of things and did not believe her story. Brokenhearted, he decided to handle things as discreetly as possible by sending her away. It was not to be. In a dream an angel appeared to him and told him the facts. Awaking from his sleep Joseph obeyed the angel’s words and took Mary as his wife. His love for her was so great, it negated logic and thus their marriage was an act of faith in God.

“Immanuel—God with Us”
When the child was born, they named Him “Jesus” as instructed. In addition, the prophet Isaiah said that He would be called Immanuel, meaning, “God with us.” Jesus means, “Savior.” And thus He came to be! He will go to the cross as a sinless Lamb to save us from the price of our sins and He will be the manifest presence of God in the earth. Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son”—fully God and fully man—the mystery of the ages.

Scriptures:
Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
Isaiah 7:14-15
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

Prayer:
The Apostles’ Creed
The Book of Common Prayer (Adapted SRP)
I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Song:
Emmanuel
Words and Music: Bob McGee

Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
His name is called Emmanuel
God with us, revealed in us
His name is called Emmanuel
(Repeat)

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

 

March 1 “Genealogy”

Genealogy

Just who was this man named Jesus?
Matthew had to prove that Jesus was qualified to be Messiah. To this purpose he did what any creditable historian would do, he consulted the official records. The scribes were excellent record keepers, especially genealogies. If Matthew had cheated in any way, crunching the names the way a crooked accountant can crunch the numbers, he would have been caught. His genealogy of Jesus was a challenge to any who took the history of the nation seriously. The claims of Jesus to be Messiah were sound from the standpoint of the records.

Luke’s genealogy differs from that of Matthew from David to Jesus. From Abraham to David they match up well. Why the differences? Several possible explanations are put forward including the fact that one person may be called by different names. The most likely reason is simple: Matthew traces the line through Joseph and Luke through Mary. Both were descendants of King David. Notice the switch from repeatedly listing fathers who “begot” each succeeding generation to a different process with Mary and Jesus:

“And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born
Jesus who is called Christ.”

Matthew traces the rights of Jesus to the throne through Joseph back to Solomon, but is careful to point out that Mary alone birthed Jesus.

Important connections between Jesus and the heroes of the faith are found in this genealogy.

  • Abraham was the first of the Hebrews, the father of the nation.
  • David was Israel’s greatest King.
  • Solomon was Israel’s wisest King.
  • King Jehoshaphat was the leader who won a battle with praise music.
  • King Uzziah started so young and did so well until he usurped the office of the priests and died from leprosy in a house alone. His death changed the life of young Isaiah. A vision of the pre-incarnate Christ on Heaven’s throne transformed the historian into the prophet of Messiah to come.

Women figure prominently in this list and each is a demonstration of God’s grace, giving us hope that in spite of failures, God can still use the repentant soul.

  • Tamar was a prostitute.
  • Rahab was the harlot who lived on the walls of Jericho.
  • Ruth was the foreigner who loved her adopted nation.
  • Bathsheba had an adulterous affair with King David.
  • Mary was so virtuous she was chosen to bear King Jesus.

Matthew provided the proof needed to make his case for Jesus. One commentary says this:

“Matthew’s genealogy answered the important question a Jew would rightfully ask about anyone who claimed to be King of the Jews. Is He a descendant of David through the rightful line of succession? Matthew answered yes!” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries)

Just who was this man named Jesus?
He was the virgin-born Son of Mary. He was the legal heir of King David. He was a certified son of Abraham. His story deserves to be told still today. He has the answers to the answerless dilemmas. He has the power of good over evil. He has written a New Covenant between God and man in His own holy blood. He is the firstborn from among the dead. He stands at the door of your heart, knocking and seeking entrance there. If You will let Him come in and take over, peace will be yours and forgiveness. There is no other source of these things. He is the One, the only hope for this earth. Hear His story and be challenged. Behold His glory and be changed!

Scriptures:
Matthew 1: 1-17
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
Colossians 1:15-18
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Philippians 2:5-11
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there is no one like You; there never was before and never will be again. Thank You for the Gospel record that still stands today as indisputable evidence though more than 2000 years old. I believe, Lord, I believe. I believe You. I believe my sins are forgiven and cast far away. I believe in Your call on my life and the work You have commissioned me to do. I will tell Your story till my dying breath. I believe in the life to come You are preparing for me. Thank You, Lord. Yes, I believe. Amen.

Song:
Fairest Lord Jesus
Anonymous

1. Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature,
O thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.

2. Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer
who makes the woeful heart to sing.

3. Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling starry host:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.

4. Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
now and forevermore be thine.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

 

February 28 “Commission”

Commission

Some things are so very real, they can only be seen with eyes of faith.
With repeated appearances to those who had loved and followed Him, Jesus convinced them all that He was, indeed, back from the dead. He gently rebuked those who failed to believe the good reports from the first witnesses. After all, He had told them this was going to happen!

From other sources we know that He did meet with the disciples in Galilee. On one occasion He met with the Eleven and those wonderful women and convinced even the skeptical Thomas that he was back and His power was greater than ever. He could appear and disappear at will and could pass through walls without effort.

We cannot imagine the joy of the followers of Jesus to have Him back. But this was not the end of surprises. There were always surprises with Jesus! It seemed He wasn’t planning on staying. Later they would realize that He had come to earth to complete a two-fold mission:

  1. To show people what their God was really like, and,
  2. To redeem the sins of the world so that we could walk with God in this life.

That two-fold mission had been accomplished and it was time for Him to return to the throne room of God in heaven.

There was one more thing that He had to do: Commission His followers to continue His work in the earth. His story had to be told to the whole world and they, and those who came to know Him through their ministry, were the ones to tell it. He condensed the mission into a single statement and a promise:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

“Gospel” means “Good News.”

  • In a world in the iron grip of Rome, Good News was needed.
  • In every epoch of time since the ancient world existed, Good News has been needed.
  • Any type of news rooted in man’s character will eventually be found to be corrupt.
  • Any message based on the intellect of man will present only partial solutions since the knowledge of mankind is inadequate.
  • Any hope of staving off disease that rests in man will itself be found infected with sin.

Death rules man as it always had until that day at the empty tomb. The only source of Good News is the Gospel of Christ.

The Power of the Holy Spirit
The Jesus story is not complete without the story of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not commission us to go out in our own power! He sends us the Holy Spirit to make us holy and empower us to be His witnesses. We should expect the demonstration of the Spirit when we tell His story. We will be protected from harm as we go and signs will follow as we pass through this life preaching the Gospel. Demons cannot stop us for we can call on Jesus’ name. The sick will be healed as we pray in Jesus’ name. Wild animals and poison will not even slow us down.

Having spoken His final words to them until the Holy Spirit would come upon them and bring His words back to them as needed, He made His exit into the welcoming skies. Heaven took Him back and He resumed His rightful place at the right hand of Majesty on High.

What did they do then? They waited in Jerusalem until they received “power from on high” and they went out and preached His Story everywhere. The Lord was with them confirming the Word with miraculous signs. Amen.

Scripture:
Mark 16:14-20
Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I have heard Your call to follow You. I have obeyed that call. I hear Your call to tell Your story, to preach the Good News about You in every possible way. I will fear no demons or dangers, no sickness or setbacks, no opposition or lack of opportunity. I will follow and I will tell. I receive Your Holy Spirit to make me holy, Your power to make me mighty, and Your love to make me lovable. Use me, all of me, my gifts and my gaffs, my head and heart and hands to do your work. Thank You, Lord. Thank You.

Song:
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations
Words and Music: H. Ernest Nichol

1. We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.

Refrain:
For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.

2. We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword, and shatter the spear and sword.

Refrain

3. We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above
has sent us His Son to save us, and show us that God is love, and show us that God is love.

Refrain

4 We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples may come to the truth of God, may come to the truth of God.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

 

February 27 “Victory”

Victory

When you have seen something with your own eyes, it is most difficult to believe otherwise.
And so it was with the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. With their own eyes they had witnessed His death. After His body was taken down from the cross, the women who loved and followed Jesus had hastily prepared His lifeless form for the tomb. After the Sabbath had come and gone, they returned to do proper service to the body of their Lord.

We cannot imagine the grief they experienced that Saturday. Each of the women had received countless undeniable blessings from the hands of Jesus.

  • Mary and Martha of Bethany had seen their dead and decaying brother, Lazarus, come waddling out of his own tomb, wrapped in grave clothes, at the command of Jesus! How could the One who was the Master of death, be overcome by death? It made no sense, but they had seen the still body of Jesus for themselves and handled it in preparation for its rest in Joseph’s tomb.
  • Mary Magdalene had been delivered from the violence of seven demon spirits at Jesus’ command. Now His voice was stilled and she had to wonder if the forgiveness He had granted was just an illusion. Was she still in her sins?
  • From other accounts, we know that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was at the cross when he died. Without doubt she was among the women who went, early that Resurrection morning, to visit the tomb.

They went to the tomb not knowing how they would roll away the huge stone placed over the entrance by the Roman soldiers. There was little logic in their mission but they were compelled to make the effort.

When they arrived, they saw that the stone was already moved. Their first thoughts were that someone had stolen His body. Cautiously, they entered the tomb. A young man dressed in brilliant white robes was standing on the right side of the large flat stone where the body of Jesus should have been. Startled, they shrank back in fear. His voice was both commanding and soothing

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.
He is risen! He is not here.”

They did not, they could not, move. From other accounts we know that the linen in which the body was wrapped lay flat on the stone, as if it had been deflated. The linen that had covered His head was folded neatly at the head of the stone. The body was gone but this was not the work of mortals.

“See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

The man spoke with an authority very much like that of Jesus Himself, so they knew they must obey. They ran from the tomb but shared this experience with no one. Who would believe it, anyway?”

Other Witnesses
Mary Magdalene was the first to actually see the risen Lord. She told the other followers of Jesus, but in the depth of their grief, there was no way for them to ascend to the level of this truth. They could not believe what they were hearing; they knew what their eyes had seen. When He appeared to two of them as they were walking, the two were convinced but even this was not enough to counter the witness of the eyes.

The world’s greatest victory had been won and so many could not see it. We are all witnesses to the reality of death. It is for us to see the Risen Lord with eyes of faith.

Scripture:
Mark 16: 1-13
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away — for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you told Thomas that those who believe in Your resurrection without actually seeing You, would be blessed. I am in that number. I believe You conquered death. I believe You hold the keys of death, hell, and the grave. I believe that death has been swallowed up in victory. I believe that my loved ones who have departed this life are with You now enjoying life everlasting. I believe that to be absent from the body is to be present with You. I believe that You are the Lord of the living. Through Your grace, I walk each day in newness of life! The Lord is risen—He is risen, indeed! Amen!

Song:
Christ Arose!
Words and Music: Robert Lowry

1. Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Refrain:
Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o’er 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!

2. Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Refrain

3. Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

 

February 26 “Calvary”

Calvary

Due to its remarkable shape, Golgotha was called the place of the skull.
It was a place where lives were ended in blood and shame. On this day it would live up to its image and name.

Roman soldiers paraded Jesus through the city streets and out of the city gates with whips and curses to the delight of the mob. Perhaps growing weary of the excessive time this duty was wasting, they conscripted a man, Simon from Cyrene, to help Jesus bear the cross. Arriving at the place of execution they offered Jesus a sedative to dull the pain. He refused it. With practiced efficiency the soldiers nailed Jesus to the wooden beams by His hands and feet and lifted Him to the sky. Criminals received the same, one on either side of Him, fulfilling an ancient prophecy.

“And He was numbered with the transgressors.”

The soldiers also nailed the indictment made against Jesus to the top of the cross. It read:

THE KING OF THE JEWS.

The crowd, enraged by this proclamation, began to revile Him, taunting Him with cruel words designed to pierce His heart just as the nails pierced his body:

“Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself,
and come down from the cross!”
“He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

The soldiers gambled for what was left of His clothes. It was the third hour of the day.

Six hours later, Jesus replied, not to His tormentors, but to His father:

“…Why have you forsaken me?

Someone soaked a sponge in sour wine and, using a stick, raised to His mouth. He did not drink it. He cried out again with a loud voice and it was over. From other sources we know that all of creation cried out at His death in storms and darkness and earthquakes. Struggling to keep his footing upon the shaking soil and in the driving wind, a Roman soldier realized that this was no criminal.

“Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

Meanwhile, at the Temple
Far away from Golgotha, deep in the heart of the Temple, a heavy veil designed to isolate the Holy Presence of God from an unholy world, trembled and tore from the top to the bottom. The Old Covenant with a loving God held hostage in the Holy of Holies by the sins of mankind, broke out of this confinement. A New Covenant was now in force made secure by the innocent blood of Jesus shed at Calvary. Now the New Temple of God, His dwelling place on earth, would not be in houses of stone, but in hearts of flesh, redeemed human hearts! The church would be His dwelling place in the earth by His Spirit.

At Calvary the women who followed Him looked on as His body was taken down. Unknown to them, a friend on the council, Joseph of Arimathea, arranged with Pilate to have the body of Jesus placed in His tomb. The women rushed to do what they could before the Sabbath began.

Scripture:
Mark 15: 21-41
Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take. Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. And the inscription of His accusation was written above:
THE KING OF THE JEWS. With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him. Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.” And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may I never forget that day, the day You paid the full price for all my sins and those of everyone everywhere. With every voice of thunder I hear, may I remember that storm that day as all creation—Your handiwork!—shook in protest to Your death. Help me remember that when You said “It is finished!” it really was. There is nothing I can do to earn my salvation. As the song says, “Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.” Thank You, Lord! Amen and Amen.

Song:
He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels
Words and Music: Ray Overholt

1. They bound the hands of Jesus in the Garden where He prayed.
They led Him through the streets in shame.
They spat upon on the Savior so pure and free from sin.
They said “Crucify Him. He’s to blame.”

Refrain:
He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels
But He died alone for You and me.

2. Upon His precious head they place a crown of thorns
They laughed and said, “Behold, the King.”
They struck Him and they cursed Him
And mocked His holy name.
All alone He suffered everything.

3. When they nailed Him to the cross
His mother stood nearby.
He said, “Woman, behold thy son!
He cried, “I thirst for water.”
They gave Him none to drink.
Then the sinful work of man was done.

4. To the howling mob He yielded He did not for mercy cry.
And when He cried, “It’s finished,”
He gave Himself to die.
Salvation’s wondrous plan was done.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

 

February 25 “Pilate”

Pilate cared nothing for the religion of the people. He had two goals: control and peace.
The problem with control was that everybody wanted it. The challenge of peace was balancing all the groups competing for control. As the sun rose and Pilate attended to his morning routine, he had no idea he would make history that day.

The leaders in the Temple held an early morning meeting to prepare their presentation of Jesus to Pilate. How could they present Jesus as a threat, not just to their control mechanisms, but to those of Rome itself? They strengthened the bonds on Jesus’ hands and feet and shuffled Him into Pilate’s court. Hearing their confused case against this beaten, powerless man, Pilate was faintly amused that such a one could cause such a stir. In a voice dripping with irony he asked,

“Are You the King of the Jews?”

Jesus looked up, his face already showing deep bruises.

“It is as you say.”

It was like a punchline to a joke. Pilate smiled in spite of himself thinking, “Yes, this is the kind of king these miserable people would have!” Choking back his contempt for these accusers, Pilate listened to their conflicting testimonies, accusing Jesus of outrageous but harmless things, matters of great importance to these small-minded leaders but of no consequence to Rome. When Jesus did not attempt to answer their charges, Pilate began to be more interested in this man. He marveled that this one so eloquent in reputation would be so mute in court.

Barabbas
There was a custom at the time of the feast. To appease the people and maintain control without force, a prisoner could be released. They were holding a rebel, named Barabbas, who had committed murder. Pilate offered him to the people. The people, stirred by the priests, called for Jesus instead. Pilate knew that envy was the driving force behind the priests and other leaders. Here was a man they could not control so their fragile peace was threatened. To be sure, Pilate made the question clear:

“What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”

As if on a conductor’s cue, a shout of “Crucify Him!” became a rhythmic chant. Pilate’s protests of the innocence of Jesus could barely be heard over the chant. Pilate, for the sake of control and for the hope of peace, released Barabbas and delivered Jesus to the mob. Roman soldiers tied Jesus to a whipping post and did their worst. They took Him to headquarters to mock Him publicly, stripping Him and putting on Him a purple robe. They twisted a crown of thorns and jammed it onto His head. They struck Him with a rod and pretended to worship Him. Finally tiring of their sport, they removed the “kingly” purple robe, put His own clothes back on Him, and led Him off to be crucified.

Neither Pilate nor the cruel soldiers knew that the blood they spilled that day would someday save the world.

Scripture:
Mark 15: 1-20
Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered and said to him, “It is as you say.” And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified. Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, sometimes I feel that I am a victim of injustice. Sometimes, for the sake of Your Kingdom, I suffer for the sins of others. This is nothing new. The Bible warns us that we will join the “fellowship of Your sufferings”—suffering when we are innocent. However, none of us will ever suffer the level of injustice that You endured that day, not even close! Yet, You share Your strength to endure with us. Help us take joy in this privilege. With it comes the joy of knowing You better. Amen.

Song:
I Find No Fault in Him
Words and Music: Andrea Crouch

They led Christ to Calvary
And He spoke not one word.
Just the cries of lost sinners
Was all my Savior heard.
Then they pierced Him so deep in His side
Until the Blood came streaming down.
And that’s how Jesus purchased my salvation
And I find to fault in Him.

I find no fault in Him, I find no fault in Him,
Yet He was rejected, despised of men.
But I find no fault in Him.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

February 24 “Peter”

Peter

Peter wanted to run away from the sounds of torture from the Chief Priests’ court, but his heart would not let him.
Every blow from the open palm of a guard brought shouts of approval from the blood thirsty crowd. Every taunt from bold individuals in the mob brought laughter and derision. Peter listened for some sort of sound from the voice he knew so well, the voice that had said, “Follow me.” Would he indeed follow Jesus, even in this? Of all the chosen men, only he was close enough to hear the terrible sounds coming from inside.

The fire did little to warm Peter in this cold pre-dawn drama. He was careful not to stand close enough for his face to be clearly seen. Suddenly, a brand in the fire fell creating a shower of sparks, illuminating Peter’s face. He quickly jumped back, out of the light, but not before a servant girl belonging to one of the priests caught a good look at his face. Her voice brought the action out of the inner chamber into the servant’s court.

“You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”

First, Peter panicked and then, gathering his thoughts, he shifted farther into the shadows and denied what the girl had said. This brought more unwanted attention to him. He moved away from the fire completely; better the cold than to be recognized. In his mind, he could see the servants calling inside to their masters, “Here he is! Here is one of his men!” Peter could see himself bound and beaten too. “Follow me.”

Just then a loud noise came from the trial and all the attention shifted back to the other chamber. Peter took a deep breath, the first, it seemed, in quite a while. He climbed to an elevated porch, seeking anonymity. It was not to be. A rooster crowed, signally the coming of the day. Peter was so startled by the sound he froze in the light of a nearby torch. The same servant girl was there and called him out again. Again he denied her charge.

Things settled down for a while. People had more interesting things to think about than this one man hiding in the fleeting shadows. The sun, unhindered by the clouds that would later that day hide its face, began softly lighting the eastern sky. There was no place to hide. This time, several onlookers recognized Peter. They put the accent together with the face and remembered that Jesus and His men were from Galilee.

“Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.”

Trapped, there was only one course of action for Peter to prove he was not a follower of Jesus, the man known for eloquent speech and powerful blessings; he began to curse. Language he had seldom used at sea came flooding out of his mouth. With obscene vows he swore that he did not know this man, Jesus.

At that moment a second rooster called to the rising sun. The raucous sound of the bird and the sounds of torture a few feet away were all drowned in Peter’s hearing by the memory of the sad words of Jesus:

“Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”

There was nothing Peter could do now. He too, abandoned Jesus to the authorities. He ran from the servant’s court hiding tears that he could not control.

Scriptures:
Mark 14:66-72
Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the shame of Peter’s denial has touched believers since that terrible night in the servant’s court. Why? Because He was so bold! He declared that You were Messiah. He walked on water! He saw Your glory on the mountain of transfiguration. If he could fail You so miserably, what hope is there for us? Yet there is hope for us. You are that hope. Your Spirit now dwells within us to give us strength. We know about the resurrection! You will make us strong in the time of trial. Thank You, Lord! Amen.

Song:
Keep Me True
Traditional

Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
There’s a race that I must run.
There are victories to be won.
Every hour, by Thy power,
Keep me true.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.

February 23 “Trials”

Trials

He was not a violent man, but His hands were bound with leather thongs. He was not a flight risk, hut His feet were bound with iron shackles.
Abandoned by His followers, betrayed by the kiss of a friend, Jesus stood alone before the collected leadership councils of His own religion. Peter followed at a safe distance, stopping in a courtyard where servants of the high priests awaited orders on this strange night. They had built a fire to keep out the chill. Peter joined them, hoping that he would not be recognized. From this secure location, Peter could hear the case against Jesus.

The chief priests were interviewing witnesses to testify against Jesus. They were having a difficult time getting people to agree on what Jesus had said and done. Many of the potential witness were obvious liars who would never get past the Roman authorities. Some misquoted Jesus about the destruction of the Temple and a promise to make another but the details never seemed to line up. In frustration the Chief Priest confronted Jesus.

“Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?”

This brought no response from Jesus. These inept witnesses didn’t need His assistance. The calm demeanor of Jesus unnerved the Chief Priest. He went straight to the point.

“Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”

The arena grew suddenly quiet as each participant realized the importance of the answer. In the courtyard, Peter moved to a different place by the fire, seeking safe shadows. Jesus had asked him a similar question in the wilderness. Peter remembered the deep conviction welling up within his heart as he boldly answered. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Would Jesus be so bold? It would be a death warrant. Further witnesses would not be needed. As Peter thought of these things, the expectant silence was broken by the soft but convincing voice of Jesus

“I am.”

Jesus spoke as if there was more He wanted to say. The crowd took a collective breath. At last He continued.

“And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

At this the High Priest screamed and tore his robes. His associates, not to be outdone, did the same. The crowd responded in a deep groan and then a high pitched wail that lasted some seconds before yielding to the uplifted hand of the Chief Priest.

“What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy!
What do you think?”

It was unanimous. The crowd put their words into violence, spitting on Jesus, blindfolding Him, beating Him from the left and then from the right demanding that as a prophet, He should prophesy beneath their fists. The guards, not fearing reprimand from their superiors, took their turns at him with open palms, blows designed to hurt but not kill him.

Peter heard the crowd and felt the heat of their madness. He wished above all things that He could take the blows in the place of Jesus. With a start, he realized then he, indeed, might be next.

Scriptures:
Mark 14:53-65
And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.'” But not even then did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, so innocent were you of wrong-doing before the high priests and the councils of Your religion! It was a sham as well as a shame. You were bold beneath their blows and assertive amidst their accusations. If their charge was love; You were guilty. If their indictment was for telling the truth; You were guilty. Their inept witnesses could not agree. Your confession of Your identity was the device they needed to condemn You. This means You willingly gave Your life; they did not take it from You! Why? Because You loved us! Still today, You love us. Thank You, Lord!

Song:
Man of Sorrows
Words and Music: P.P. Bliss

1. Man of sorrows what a name for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

2 Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

3 Guilty, helpless, lost were we; blameless Lamb of God was he,
sacrificed to set us free: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

4 He was lifted up to die; “It is finished” was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

5 When he comes, our glorious King, all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we’ll sing: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.