Day 18

Events in and around the Last Supper…

Luke 22:7-23 NIV84

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 

And he took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

What did Jesus ask Peter and John to do?

How did Jesus feel about this Passover meal? 

What did He say He would abstain from until the kingdom of God comes? Why do you think He is doing this?

With this Passover meal Jesus established the Christian sacrament of Communion — a way for us to remember Him and the new covenant. What does the bread represent? What does the wine represent? How is communion portrayed with Jesus? His disciples? the Church?

Father God, You sent Jesus to be broken and shed His blood that we might all be a part of Him. Help me to remember that through Communion I am enacting a physical sacrament that portrays a spiritual reality. Teach me to truly be a member of the Body of Christ.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1Corinthians 12:27 NIV84

Day 17

In and around the Temple…

Matthew 26:1-16 NIV84

When Jesus had finished saying 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 the 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. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

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

What did Jesus tell His disciples?

Imagine these two scenes happening at the same time. Judas, indignant, leaves one to enter the other. Do you think the extravagant display of worship was the last straw for Judas? How do you feel when great expense is poured out to express adoration for Jesus?

On this side of the resurrection we have access to complete forgiveness and an unfettered relationship with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, by way of the Holy Spirit. But it is also an era that believes time is money. How do you feel when people pour out their time for God in prayer? worship? study of Scripture? Do you think it is time that could be better spent serving the poor or fighting injustice?  Does it make you feel indignant? Or do you look forward to opportunities to pour out your time on Him?

Lord, You say it’s a beautiful thing to worship You extravagantly. Help me to remember that there will always be work to do, but I will not always have the opportunity to worship You by faith through the power of the Spirit.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, 
for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists 
and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV

Day 16

In and around the Temple…

Matthew 25:31-46 NIV84

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

What will happen when the Son of Man comes in His glory?

What do the blessed and the cursed have in common in their answers to the King?

Recognizing Jesus in the world around us has little to do with how we treat others. It is seeing people through His eyes, from His perspective, that changes our actions. Have you let Him effect how you see? Do you have an increasing compassion and love for the lost and hurting, no matter where you find them? Or do you offer assistance only when you perceive a “reward” for your action in ministry?

Day 15

In and around the Temple…

Luke 21:29-38 NIV84

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

“I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

To what did Jesus compare the coming of the kingdom of God? What is significant about this parable?

What will happen to heaven and earth? What about Jesus’s words?

Jesus spent the final days of His life on earth teaching, sharing His words with the people, making an eternal investment in their lives. Do you let Him speak eternity into your life each day? Do you have an appointed time to meet with Him daily? Or do you find yourself weighed down by life, no time to spare?

This week schedule a daily appointment with Jesus. Write it on the calendar, put it in your day planner, set an alarm on your phone. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day in prayer and study of Scripture asking Jesus to make an eternal investment in you.

Lord Jesus, Your words will never pass away. At creation, You set eternity in the heart of every person, nurture that desire in my life with Your Word. I want to invest in what will last, not in things that will quickly pass away.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. …” —Jesus
Matthew 6:19-21 NIV84

Day 14

In and around the Temple…

Mark 13:32-37 NIV84

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”

Who knows the day and the hour of the end of the age?

What are we instructed to do as we wait?

What does it mean for you to stay awake? How do you keep up a practical, daily watch?

Father God, You alone know the day and the hour. Fill me with an increasing urgency to be vigilant and stay awake. Teach me what this means. I do not want You to find me sleeping.

Day 13

In and around the Temple…

Mark 13:1-13 NIV84

As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. …”

What are the disciples fascinated by in this passage?

Jesus reminds His disciples that something new is in the process of being birthed. What are the signs of its arrival — the “birth pains”?

Do you see an increasing frequency and intensity of these labor pains?

Jesus warns the disciples to be on guard and to watch out for those who deceive. Anything that encourages us to cling to this world, as it is now, and not long for the new heaven and the new earth is a deceiver. Do you find yourself caught up in the things of this world? Do you recognize areas in your life where you are being deceived? What can you do to begin letting go and start preparing for what is to come?

Heavenly Father, keep my heart and mind focused on things above. Let my hope be in You alone. Tender my heart to those who are lost and hurting. I want to be someone who helps deliver Your plan into action, and doesn’t hinder its arrival.

In Jerusalem. Taken by Peetie Edwards.

Day 12

In and around the Temple…

Mark 12:35-44 NIV84

While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’ David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How than can he be his son?”

The large crowd listened to him with delight.

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything  — all she had to live on.” 

Jesus brought attention to the teachers of the law. What did He have to say about them?

In contrast, He pointed out a poor widow. What did He say about her?

In reality, we are all poor widows — for this reason David called the One who came after him: Lord. Only when we deceive ourselves can we take the prideful stance of the wealthy and the teachers of the law. Does this idea offend you? Or are you comfortable with the persona of the poor widow?

Father God, remind me that I have nothing that is not Yours already. Make me willing, like the poor widow, to commit all You’ve given me back to You for Your service.

Day 11

In and around the Temple…

Mark 12:13-34 NIV84

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

And they were amazed at him.

Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising — have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifice.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared asked him any more questions.

The Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees represented different sects of Judaism that had splintered off because of opposing agendas and beliefs. They came together to trap Jesus. In today’s society, do you see any odd mixing of groups that ban together in opposition to Christianity?

Jesus amazed all with His answers to the varied questions. How do you respond to questions about your faith? Do you hide your belief out of fear of opposition? Do you welcome questions and conversation about faith?

The Sadducees’ error came from a lack of knowledge regarding Scripture and the power of God. How confident are you when it comes to knowledge in these two areas? Are you committing the same error? 

Lord, You say that the Holy Spirit will give the words needed to defend my faith and that He will remind me of everything You have said. Help me to begin to increase my knowledge of Your Word and Your power that I may have something for the Spirit to remind me of when I am questioned about You. I do not want to be afraid of confrontation when it comes to faith.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
1 Peter 3:15 NIV84

Day 10

In and around the Temple…

Matthew 22:1-14 NIV 84

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

“But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

According to Jesus, what is the kingdom of heaven like?

Consider those invited. What attitude must they have toward the king and his son? To help you imagine, think about the most recent royal wedding, Prince William’s. Under what circumstances would you not go if you were invited?

Where do you fit into this parable. Are you one who has been invited but can’t find the time to come? Are you one that is stunned by the unexpected invitation, feeling unworthy to be included? Are you afraid you will be the one singled out because you aren’t dressed right?

To help find meaning in this parable, read it again. Identify one word or phrase that catches your attention. Ask God to give you understanding and how He wants you to respond. Be open today and in the days to come for His answer.

Heavenly Father, You say that all Scripture is useful for teaching, yet sometimes it just seems confusing. Show me what you want me to know from Your Word.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 NIV84

Day 9

In and around the temple…

Matthew 21:33-46 NIV84

“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Jesus directs another parable at those who questioned His authority. What does the vineyard represent? Who is the landowner? the tenants? the servants? the son?

What primary character trait does the landowner display?

Do you recognize God’s patience in your life? Do you reject the opportunities He gives you to turn? Or do you respond by respecting the work He wants to do in your life?

Lord, I praise Your patience and forbearance, but I also recognize it will come to an end. Open my eyes to the opportunities You give me to bear fruit for You and bless me with the faith to obey.