Daily Devotion for March 23, 2016
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.
The wonderful Antrim Mennonite Choir sings this Easter-themed hymn.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to live in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of the day you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.
I open my body to you and give thanks for your life that fills and warms every cell of it.
I open my eyes and ears to you and give thanks for the light of your Word, without which I would live in the shadow of ignorance.
I open my heart to you and give thanks for your love that fills me with compassion, understanding, and peace.
I open my soul to you and give thanks for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.
All that I am, I open to you and I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that fill this day. Through Christ I pray.
Almighty God, I pray for wisdom in these times of uncertainty. I look deep into my heart and soul to find your truth. I pray for comfort in times of spiritual restlessness — as I journey through the murky waters of sin and self-doubt. Lord, I pray for your word to enrich my life and bring me to a closer relationship and understanding with you, through your Son, Jesus Christ. And may all your children be granted the same wisdom, comfort, and the promise of your word throughout their daily lives, that we all can gather in your house and praise you more lovingly and faithfully from this day forward. In Christ's name,
[I open my eyes and ears to you.]
God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make me and all who confess your holy name people of this light. Make me faithful to your Word that I may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
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 51:5-9 (NKJV)
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
Matthew 26:30-35 (ESV)
Jesus Foretells Peter's Denial
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ [Zechariah 13:7] But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Notes on the Scripture
lthough all four gospels tell the story of Peter and the rooster, Matthew is the only place we find the Zechariah quote — not surprisingly, considering the overall intention of Matthew’s gospelMatthew is called the Gospel to the Jews, to prove that Jesus was the Messiah predicted by the Old Testament. Throughout Matthew, we find many more Old Testament prophecies being tied to events in Jesus' life than in the other gospels..
There is very little about his personal characteristics in any of the gospels. There is no biography of Jesus. Except for the brief passage in Luke discussed below, we have no hard facts about him between his infancy and the beginning of his ministry (at about age 30). And in the gospels themselves, we find only the tiniest hints about his personal life. But we must always be aware that he had a human life. (For all we know, he might have been married! Although it's unlikely, the Bible does not tell us He was single.)
Part of his life as a human being was the religious life of a Jew. Here we get a very big hint, for Luke recounts that his family went to Jerusalem at Passover, just like any devout Jewish family of the day. (Luke 2:41) The quote from Zechariah gives us another hint about him from his teaching style.
The quote (among others) shows us that, outside of his main role as the Messiah, he was actually somewhat closer to the Pharisees in his religious orientation than the other religious parties of the day. Their teaching style was always to quote a prior source, preferably a prophet, as authority for their propositions.
This painstaking reliance on prior authority was not Jesus' style in general. One of his defining characteristics was that, for his most important teachings, he spoke on the direct authority of the Father. (E.g. John 12:49) But here, we see him quote Zechariah for a minor statementThe later chapters of Zechariah contain messianic prophecy and, although it is difficult to see this particular quote as a direct prophecy of the crucifixion, many scholars do so. , that sheep scatter when the shepherd dies. He lapses, at least arguably, into the style of rabbinical tradition. He was even called “rabbi” sometimes, by Jews who wished to address him with respect.
Again, not to be misunderstood, this addresses Jesus' personal life outside his primary role as the Christ. But it seems likely that he attended synagogue in Nazareth, and the rural synagogues were the home turf of the Pharisees.
The more important issue here is Christ's concern with the apostles being like frightened sheep without a shepherd. And we will see this happen three times: after his arrest, when Peter will deny being his follower; after his death, when the apostles will hide in their rooms; and (at the beginning of Acts) during the ten days after his ascension but before Pentecost. John develops this concern at much more length, especially in John 14:15-31, where Jesus voices a very human concern about leaving his disciples alone and comforts them, in advance, by promising the coming of the Holy Spirit.