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Daily Devotion for March 6, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Freedom from Depression and Fear
O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and I feel my weakness and helplessness, give me the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength. Help me to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry me, for, living close to You, I shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things.
And now let me go forth praising you, O Lord, with all my heart, telling of all your wonders, with my words and in my actions. I will be glad and rejoice in you this day. I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 22:6-11 (ESV)
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Matthew 21:23-27 (ESV)
The Authority of Jesus Challenged
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Notes on the Scripture
Jesus is no longer teaching in rural synagogues. He is in Jerusalem, in the Temple, the center of Judaism and home of the Sanhedrin. He is, in effect, climbing a ladder of authority: He speaks his gospel before increasingly important Jewish officials, and he does not intend to stop until he gets all the way to Caiphas, the High Priest of the Hebrews.
What these high priests and elders apparently want to hear Jesus say is that he is the Son of God; they seem to be seeking, in a sly way, to trap him into answering the question that Caiphas will pose to him directly: “[T]ell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:23) They need to hear an outright claim to divinity, so that they can convict him of blasphemy and be rid of him.
Christ has every intention of being found guilty of the charge, but not now, and not by these men. They have tried to trap him before, with their clever word games, but he always turns their slyness back against them.
He counters their question with one of his own: did John the Baptist have divine authority for his baptism? Thus, he catches them in their own snare. They cannot admit that John baptized with the authority of God, because John bore witness to the divinity of Jesus. On the other hand, if they were to publicly denounce John as a fraud, they would risk a riot in Jerusalem at Passover.
God, not the Jewish authorities, controls the timing of Christ's passion. Christ does not dodge the question out of fear of the consequences. He came to Jerusalem to suffer and die. But this is not the time and place God has chosen for it. Christ will die just as the Passover Sabbath begins, ensuring that we see the reference of his death to the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.