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Daily Devotion for March 23, 2011
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
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
A Prayer for Lent
Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of Your Son's death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us 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.
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
But in your hearts revere 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.
John 12:12-19 (NKJV)
Jesus Enters Jerusalem
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! [ Psalm 118:26] The King of Israel!"
Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
"Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt." [Zechariah 9:9]
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"
Notes on the Scripture
Today's scripture is celebrated as Palm Sunday. It was the day when Jesus was widely proclaimed as the Messiah by the Jews of Jerusalem; like Castro marching into Havana, or Charles de Gaulle marching into Paris at the end of WW2, the people widely believed that the Messiah prophesied for a thousand years or more, memorialized in the Hebrew Bible, had arrived and was marching triumphantly into the city to liberate it. As foretold, he rode on a donkey. Even the Pharisees were temporarily taken aback.
As we discussed yesterday, the Pharisees were not necessarily Jesus' enemies. Many of them were on the fence, either as a matter of faith or simply as a matter of political astuteness. They thought that Christ was a political figure who was rebelling against the Sanhedrin -- his most avid opponents were the great high priest Caiaphas and the Sadducees, including the powerful Annas. The Pharisees quoted at the end of today's lesson seem, mainly, to want to pick the winning side before it's too late.
As the Jewish leaders had feared, there is a great popular swelling of support for Jesus. The catalyst for this had been the spectacular, and very public, raising of Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem's walls.
There is a great dramatic irony in the scene. We know, and the apostles know, that although Jesus is the Messiah, he does not care about earthly power and has no intention of becoming the temporal king of Israel. He is operating in a completely different sphere. His real revolution is to occur at a level most of them cannot comprehend, because they have not listened to or absorbed his teachings.
The people hail him as a savior. The Sanhedrin fears him as a revolutionary leader. But, although they are correct that he comes to bring a new order, they are substantially clueless about his intentions. For he comes, not to liberate the Hebrews from slavery to Rome, but to liberate all mankind from the slavery of sin.