Devotional Word for Friday, April 3, 2020
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. A crowd of Jesus’ disciples and followers and those who have heard about Lazarus being brought back from death will lay down their cloaks, wave palm branches, and declare, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” as Jesus descends the Mount of Olives, crosses the Kidron valley, and enters Jerusalem. This is genuine praise from the mouths of people who believe in Him. They will not be among those shouting for Him to be crucified on Friday. Two different groups of folk. This group is offering heart-felt praise. Earlier in His ministry the Jewish authorities sent officers to arrest Jesus. They came back empty-handed. Why? They told their superiors, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” [John 7:46]
Today I am going to read some of the words Jesus spoke. These all come from Matthew’s gospel and are in chronological order. Listen, here, to the words of Jesus:
The very first words Jesus spoke in public ministry were these: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [Matt. 4:17] It is a call to turn from our way to His way, to turn from living according to our own standards to living according to God’s standards.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is more specific when He says, Seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. [Matt. 6:33] “All these things” mean all the things we need to live our daily lives.
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells a parable to make clear how important His words are: Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. [Matt. 7:24-25]
Severe conditions are a fact of life on this earth. The Wuhan Virus is just one example. Such being the case, we can be weary and anxious. Therefore, Jesus speaks these words, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. [Matt. 11:28-30]
It’s not only external things that wear us down. We have issues deep within our souls. Jesus speaks to that as well: But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things that defile a man. [Matt. 15:18-20]
Like the disciples, we may wonder, then, who can be saved? Jesus speaks to this too: With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. [Matt. 19:26]
Well, how should we live? What is the greatest commandment to us from God? Jesus answered that question this way: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. [Matt. 22;37-40]
During Holy Week the disciples of Jesus pointed out to Him the magnificence of all the buildings of the Temple complex. He responded with words that mystified them: Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down. [Matt. 24:2]
He spoke those words on the Mount of Olives to His disciples in the broad daylight. Down below in the Garden of Gethsemane He spoke these words to His Father in the deep dark of night: My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. [Matt. 26:39]
At that time, Jesus spoke not only to the Father, but also to His disciples: Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. [Matt. 26:41]
Then, at 3 pm on Friday afternoon, Jesus cried out these words: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? [Matt. 27:46]
Finally, we need to hear the last words Jesus spoke in the Gospel of Matthew: All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. [Matt. 28:18-20]
We can agree with the officers of the Jewish authorities: Never has a man spoken as this Man. You might want to take some time this weekend to read through and ponder the words spoken by Jesus. Maybe read through John’s Gospel and listen to Jesus. Let’s prepare to give Him great acclamation on Palm Sunday. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, You are the Word of God. We are grateful that You provided for Your spoken words to be recorded. We can read them. They still speak richly and deeply to us. Open our ears to hear and our eyes to see wonderful things from Your Word. Search us and try us. Show us how to love You and live for You this day, and each day of our lives. Amen.