Daily Devotion for April 17, 2019
Wednesday of Holy Week
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 of Submission
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Prayer to Witness Boldly
O Holy One, I call to you and name you as eternal, ever-present, almighty, and boundless in love. Yet there are times, O God, when I fail to recognize you in the everyday routine of my life. There are times timidity clenches my heart and I hide my faith from the world and even from myself. Sometimes fear makes me so small that I miss a chance to express my belief. Doubts and insecurity suppress the wonderful wisdom I have learned, from your holy word, from listening to your teachers, and from the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, in the daily round from sunrise to sunset and to sunrise again, remind me again and again of your holy presence hovering near me and in me. Free me from shame and self-doubt in expressing my faith. Help me to see you in the fleeting moments of possibility and be filled with your courage and your word. In Christ’s name I pray,
The blessing of the Lord rest and remain upon all his people, in every land, of every tongue; the Lord meet in mercy all that seek him; the Lord comfort all who suffer and mourn; the Lord hasten his coming, and give us, his people, the blessing of peace, this day and always.
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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
What Bible verse tells us that Christ was fully God, and that He created the universe?
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.