Believing Thomas

31st March

They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.”…..“Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!””

John 20:25,26b-27

Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ, was witness to the most extraordinary event ever to be recorded: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet, despite the testimony of his friends, Jesus’ other disciples, Thomas did not believe straight away, hence why many have given him the name ‘doubting Thomas’. However, what is more mind-blowing is not Thomas’ doubts but rather Jesus’ words when He finally appears in the flesh to Thomas, “Peace be with you”.

When Jesus revealed Himself to Thomas, the first words He used were not words of rebuke or condemnation, but words of comfort and peace. He didn’t even get angry with Thomas. He simply calmed His doubts and re-assured Him with Heavenly peace. In addition, He met Thomas were his doubts were and allowed Thomas to touch His wounds to appease his doubts. This scene speaks volumes to those who doubt or those we know doubt Jesus’ existence or resurrection.

If Jesus did not rebuke His own disciple who had been with Him, seen the miracles first hand, listened to Jesus’ own prophecy about rising again on the third day, then is that not a lesson for us today. Instead of rebuking everyone who doubts our Lord’s resurrection, may we too respond with peace and show who the resurrected Jesus is through our lives and pray that the Lord may also reveal Himself to them too. We can take comfort that Jesus meets people were they are and calms their doubts in His own loving way, just as He did with Thomas.

The Risen King

30th March

““Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at My hands. Look at My feet. You can see that it’s really Me. Touch Me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.””

Luke 24:38-39

So many people throughout history have doubted the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Some even doubt His very existence. Interestingly, the doubters of this world are not alone. Even Jesus’ own disciples doubted that He had risen. They thought that when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection He was a spirit or a ghost.

Yet after Jesus revealed that it was indeed Him, the doubts went away and instead, they were filled with such a conviction to share this news with others, even to the point of persecution and death. The testimony of these men lives on today, even after more than 2000 years. Yet it is not only the testimony of these men and the spreading of the gospel that have caused many to put their trust in the resurrected Jesus, it is the fact that Jesus continues to reveal Himself to doubters.

Once we experience the revelation of Jesus’ resurrection, we can do nothing but serve Him with our lives and tell others about this great news. Jesus is alive. He is real. He did rise from the dead, just as He said. He lives in us and we are living witnesses of His life changing grace and power. Go…. Tell the world HE IS ALIVE!

Mary: I Call You By Name

29th March

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought He was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and get Him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to Him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).”

John 20:14-16

One of the first people Jesus appeared to in His resurrected body was Mary Magdalene. We don’t know a lot about Mary, other than the fact she had been delivered from seven demons by Jesus. Some say she was a prostitute or a ‘loose woman’ before she met Jesus, yet those claims are not supported by Biblical references. What we do know about her, is that after her healing, she never left Jesus’ side. She was present throughout Jesus’ ministry, at the cross and most importantly at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection. Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of John and is especially significant for Jesus’ words when speaking with Mary.

After questioning the angels to see where Jesus’ body was, noticing that the tomb had been opened and Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, Mary encountered a Man whom she thought was the gardener. Yet in actual fact the ‘gardener’ was indeed the resurrected Jesus. However, it was Jesus’ response to Mary’s desperate questions that promoted her to recognise who Jesus really was. As soon as Jesus said “Mary”, she knew it was her Lord and Saviour. The love that could be heard through Jesus’ affirming words moved Mary to call out ‘Teacher’ or ‘Rabboni’. She knew the voice of her Good Shepherd calling her. She knew the comfort His voice brought. She knew the value of Jesus’ words. She knew that she was God’s child and that God Himself was calling her. One can only imagine the joy that Mary must have felt when Jesus called her by name.

Today, Jesus calls us too by name. He calls us as His bride. He calls us as His chosen ones. His voice is as re-assuring, affirming and loving as it was when He called out Mary’s name. His voice gives us the assurance that we are His. Heed Jesus’ loving voice. We are His beloved.

Mary: I Call You By Name

29th March

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought He was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and get Him.” “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to Him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).”

John 20:14-16

One of the first people Jesus appeared to in His resurrected body was Mary Magdalene. We don’t know a lot about Mary, other than the fact she had been delivered from seven demons by Jesus. Some say she was a prostitute or a ‘loose woman’ before she met Jesus, yet those claims are not supported by Biblical references. What we do know about her, is that after her healing, she never left Jesus’ side. She was present throughout Jesus’ ministry, at the cross and most importantly at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection. Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of John and is especially significant for Jesus’ words when speaking with Mary.

After questioning the angels to see where Jesus’ body was, noticing that the tomb had been opened and Jesus’ body was not in the tomb, Mary encountered a Man whom she thought was the gardener. Yet in actual fact the ‘gardener’ was indeed the resurrected Jesus. However, it was Jesus’ response to Mary’s desperate questions that promoted her to recognise who Jesus really was. As soon as Jesus said “Mary”, she knew it was her Lord and Saviour. The love that could be heard through Jesus’ affirming words moved Mary to call out ‘Teacher’ or ‘Rabboni’. She knew the voice of her Good Shepherd calling her. She knew the comfort His voice brought. She knew the value of Jesus’ words. She knew that she was God’s child and that God Himself was calling her. One can only imagine the joy that Mary must have felt when Jesus called her by name.

Today, Jesus calls us too by name. He calls us as His bride. He calls us as His chosen ones. His voice is as re-assuring, affirming and loving as it was when He called out Mary’s name. His voice gives us the assurance that we are His. Heed Jesus’ loving voice. We are His beloved.

The Pharisee’s Denial

28th March

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and He is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. Remember what I have told you.””

Matthew 28:5-7

It seems as if everyone but the Pharisees knew that something special had just taken place when Jesus was crucified. What were they thinking? Were their eyes blinded to the events surrounding Jesus’ death?

Moments after Jesus’ death, the leading Pharisees and teachers of the law, went to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ tomb to be blocked by a huge stone to prevent His disciples coming in the middle of the night to steal His body and thus claiming that He had risen from the dead. Interestingly, as written in Matthew 27:63, the Pharisees were worried about Jesus’ own claims that on the 3rd day He would rise from the dead again. Sure enough, their request was granted, and in addition, the tomb was guarded by some Roman Soldiers. Yet the huge stone could not keep Jesus in His grave, and just as He said, He rose from the dead on the 3rd day.

Mary Magdalene and Mary went to visit the grave on the 3rd day, yet to their shock, they found the huge stone sealing Jesus in, rolled to one side with an angel of the Lord sitting on top of the boulder. As the two women went to the disciples to share their great news, some of the guards who had also heard about these events, went to tell the Pharisees that Jesus’ body was not in the tomb and that the huge boulder had been rolled away. The Pharisees offered a bribe to the soldiers saying, “You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body’” (Matthew 28:13).

Time and time again, the Pharisees denied who Jesus said He was, denied what the scriptures said about Him, even to the point of manipulating lies about Him, and even denied His true resurrection. Today, we also live in an age where people set out to deny the truth about Jesus. Will you accept the truth that Jesus truly rose again and invite Him to journey with you in your life?

Jesus Is Risen

Wherever you are today in the world, know this..

Jesus Christ, the Man who the enemy tried to crush, defeated the grave, defeated death, defeated the enemy, defeated sin and now lives eternally at the right hand side of God, interceding on our behalf, so that we may also have a relationship with our Creator and have victory over the enemy and sin. Today we celebrate that Jesus is no longer in the grave and is alive. If He is alive then we are alive also in Him. We are no longer dead in our sins but alive in Christ.

Rejoice. He is risen. Victory is ours. Victory today is ours!!

The Grief Of Remorse

26th-27th March

Weekend Edition

When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshipped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow.”

Luke 23:47-48

Have you ever done something so bad that had huge consequences, then after you do it, you are filled with an immeasurable amount of shame, guilt and remorse? Maybe not, but there are plenty of people throughout the Bible who had. One such man was the Roman officer, commissioned to oversee Jesus’ crucifixion. We may not know a lot about this man but based on Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ final moments, we can assume that this man knew he had made a big mistake in executing, not just an innocent man, but as Matthew records in 27:54, “..the Son of God!”

As Jesus breathed His last breath the Heavens mourned for the Only Begotten Son of God. There was an earthquake, the skies were turned black, and the curtains of the temple tore in two. There was chaos. This had never happened before after someone had been crucified. Was it a coincidence? What is a natural phenomenon? No! It was the pains of the Son of Man dying and at the same time the victory cries that what Jesus set out to do had been completed.

These events caused such a stir, that many people began to question, ‘did we just call for the head of an innocent man?’ Even the crowds, who a week earlier had rejoiced in Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem on a colt with palm trees and songs of praise, who then called for Jesus’ crucifixion with such hatred, seemed to also be filled with great remorse as they went home with “..deep sorrow.” We can also recall the story of when the resurrected Jesus met two His followers on the road to Emmaus and told Jesus that He must be “the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened…” in the last few days.

Jesus’ death and resurrection still causes shocks today. Opinion is divided as people recall the event of 2000 years ago. Some people, like the Roman officer, feel remorse for their sins and realise that what Jesus did on the cross was for them. Others ignore what He did. Yet for those who do accept, great joy and freedom await. What will you choose?

Jesus And His Mother

25th March

When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.”

John 19:26-27

Jesus had much on His mind as He hung dying on the cross. The pain was killing Him – literally. He no doubt yearned to rejoin His Heavenly Father. He knew His job on earth was finished; He had accomplished everything His Heavenly Father had ordained. Yet He was also aware of His disciples’ shock. He was probably stung with grief over Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal. Only God knows everything that went through His mind.

But one topic is clearly recorded. As Jesus looked down from the cross, He saw the need to do something about His grieving mother. Referring to John, His beloved disciple, He said to His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” He then made a similar statement to John: “Here is your mother.” (Bible scholars assume that Mary’s husband, Joseph, must have passed away by this time, and thus needed assistance.)

Early in His ministry (Mark 3:31-35), Jesus had said His true family members were “anyone who does God’s will.” But here, near the end of His earthly life, His love and concern for His birth mother are apparent as well.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the important work we are doing that we neglect our commitments to our loved ones. If anyone could have claimed that His ministry was the top priority, it would have been Jesus. But even in the middle of His most important act of ministry, even while enduring unspeakable physical and spiritual agony, Jesus cared enough about His mother to ensure she would not be left vulnerable and alone. His charged His closest disciple with her care. May we, too, remember to care for our loved ones even while we carry out the other work God has given us to do.1 May we never forget the importance of ‘mothers’ in our lives. Jesus didn’t, neither should we!

1Men’s Study Bible, Pg 1422, A Son and a Mother

The Great Divide Healed

24th March

Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart…”

Matthew 27:50-51

Can you imagine what a sight this scene would have been. The age old temple curtain torn in two revealing the Most Holy Place. Rocks cracking. The earth shaking. Darkness descending and thunder clapping. It sounds like a scene from an ‘end of the world’ film. Well in actual fact, it was the end of the world as it was known. Jesus’ sacrifice changed the destiny of man-kind forever and the temple curtain being torn signified an important change in our relationship with God.

According to the description written in Hebrews chapter 9, the temple, where people would gather to worship God, was divided into two. The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. These two rooms were divided by a huge curtain as the Most Holy Place was were the tangible presence of God was. Only the High Priest could enter this room once he had cleansed himself of his own sins and only once a year to offer a sacrifice for the people’s sins.

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his owns sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”

Hebrew 9:7

The imagery described here in Hebrews would have been a very normal picture for the Jewish people of Jesus’ time. They knew the temple rules. The knew the role of the High Priest. And they knew that once a year he would make an offering for their sins.

Yet when the temple curtain was torn into two, it symbolised something greater than what they would have understood. It showed that by Jesus’ own sacrifice, He made a way that we no longer have to speak to God through a High Priest or have our sins forgiven by the sacrifice of the blood of a lamb. We now have a Perfect High Priest, Jesus Christ, who ever lives to make an intercession for us by His own blood. He became the sacrifice, He became our High Priest and He became our sin offering. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we can freely enter into the Most Holy Place (God’s presence), and freely have a relationship with God without religious restrictions. Hallelujah!

Jesus flipped the script when the veil was ripped!

The Innocent Man

23rd March

So Pilate sentenced Jesus to die as they demanded. As they had requested, he released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he turned Jesus over to them to do as they wished.

Luke 23:24-25

As we discussed yesterday, Jesus was completely innocent. He didn’t do anything worthy of receiving the death penalty, even by the judgement of Pontius Pilate. Yet why did Jesus have to be innocent? Luke paints such a wonderful picture of why an innocent Jesus had to die.

As was the custom every year, the Governor would release a prisoner to appease ‘the people’ and keep them on his side. Incredibly, the crowds choose a murderer to be released instead of an innocent man. Yet this is imagery paints a marvellous picture in understanding the great exchange that took place at the cross; the guilty released from their debt, by an innocent sacrifice.

Hebrews 8 verse 26 tells us that Jesus’ innocence was exactly what we needed.. “He is the kind of High priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honour in Heaven.” If Jesus had sinned, then His own sacrifice would have been meaningless. Jesus needed to be perfect and spotless in order to present Himself before God as our substitution. Just as in the Old Covenant, a spotless lamb was presented as a sacrifice for the sins of the people, so Jesus had to be unblemished for our sins.

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

God in His grace, allowed Jesus, His innocent Son, to become our sacrifice, so that we can be made right with God. This picture was wonderfully shown, when Barabbas was released and Jesus was punished instead. Jesus took not only Barabbas’ sins, but all of humanities sins to the cross, and in doing so, made us right before the Father. He now stands as our intercessor forever, as the Perfect High Priest! Because Jesus was innocent, we can now stand before the Father as innocent children.