Week 31 Readings

July 30:  Judges 13; Acts 17 (family); Jeremiah 26; Mark 12 (individual)

July 31:  Judges 14; Acts 18 (family); Jeremiah 27; Mark 13 (individual)

August 1:  Judges 15; Acts 19 (family); Jeremiah 28; Mark 14 (individual)

August 2:  Judges 16; Acts 20 (family); Jeremiah 29; Mark 15 (individual)

August 3:  Judges 17; Acts 21 (family); Jeremiah 30, 31; Mark 16 (individual)

August 4:  Judges 18; Acts 22 (family); Jeremiah 32; Psalm 1, 2 (individual)

August 5:  Judges 19; Acts 23 (family); Jeremiah 33; Psalm 3, 4 (individual)


Week 30 Readings

July 23:  Judges 6; Acts 10 (family); Jeremiah 19; Mark 5 (individual)

July 24:  Judges 7; Acts 11 (family); Jeremiah 20; Mark 6 (individual)

July 25:  Judges 8; Acts 12 (family); Jeremiah 21; Mark 7 (individual)

July 26:  Judges 9; Acts 13 (family); Jeremiah 22; Mark 8 (individual)

July 27:  Judges 10; Acts 14 (family); Jeremiah 23; Mark 9 (individual)

July 28:  Judges 11; Acts 15 (family); Jeremiah 24; Mark 10 (individual)

July 29:  Judges 12; Acts 16 (family); Jeremiah 25; Mark 11 (individual)

Are you innocent?

“I am innocent of this man’s blood.” (Matthew 27:24)

Pilate said it.

Maybe you’ve said it, too.

It’s a natural thing to say. It was for Pilate.

He was a governor appointed to keep peace in the troubled Roman province of Judea. History remembers him as the ruler who presided over the trial of Jesus. As governor, he would have been responsible for issuing a just ruling over every case brought before him. One case seemed to give him fits.

The Jewish leaders presented him with Jesus of Nazareth. They accused him of many things, but to Pilate, none of their accusations seemed to ring true. Their testimony was contradictory. It dealt with the Jewish religion. And Jesus hadn’t broken any Roman laws. Ultimately, Pilate saw no grounds to convict him.

But the pressure of the Jews could be very great, especially at the time of their great feast, when messianic expectations against Rome were at their highest. As the newly appointed governor, Pilate could not afford a riot in his province.

So he thought of a way to release Jesus peacefully.

Each year at the feast the Roman governor would release a Jewish prisoner. If he gave them a choice between Jesus (an innocent man) and the notorious murderer Barabbas, they would surely wish Jesus to be released! But they chose Barabbas. So Pilate did the only politically expedient thing. He denied any responsibility for Jesus’ death.

That’s really what his words meant.

He knew who Jesus was and that he was undeserving of death. But he wouldn’t admit that he was responsible. As far as he was concerned, Jesus was innocent. Someone else would bear the guilt of Jesus’ death. Not Pilate. He was innocent of his blood.

Or so he thought.

And what about you?

Are you tempted to think that because you heard the story of Jesus in the church nursery that you are innocent? Or do you think that because you believe the right things and do the right things that you are not responsible for Jesus’ death? After all, it was the sin of the world that caused Jesus to die.

You see, we don’t usually take personal responsibility for his death. But we should.

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5)

It was our sin that put him there. And we need to be reminded of this–not because we need to be on a constant guilt-trip, but because we need to live by the mercy and grace he gave us in salvation. He died the death we deserved. This is the ultimate act of mercy on us. And he gave us a life we could never earn. This is the ultimate gift of grace.

“I am guilty of this man’s blood.”

Until we have said this we have not come to terms with what Jesus did because of us and for us on the cross. We’re guilty of death. We’re totally undeserving of life. That’s good news.

Week 29 Readings

July 16:  Joshua 23, Acts 3 (family); Jeremiah 12, Matthew 26 (individual)

July 17:  Joshua 24, Acts 4 (family); Jeremiah 13, Matthew 27 (individual)

July 18:  Judges 1; Acts 5 (family); Jeremiah 14, Matthew 28 (individual)

July 19:  Judges 2; Acts 6 (family); Jeremiah 15, Mark 1 (individual)

July 20:  Judges 3; Acts 7 (family); Jeremiah 16, Mark 2 (individual)

July 21:  Judges 4; Acts 8 (family); Jeremiah 17, Mark 3 (individual)

July 22:  Judges 5; Acts 9 (family); Jeremiah 18, Mark 4 (individual)

Week 28 Readings

July 9: Joshua 11, Psalm 144 (family); Jeremiah 5, Matthew 19 (individual)

July 10: Joshua 12-13, Psalm 145 (family); Jeremiah 6, Matthew 20 (individual)

July 11: Joshua 14-15, Psalms 146-147 (family); Jeremiah 7, Matthew 21 (individual)

July 12: Joshua 16-17, Psalm 148 (family); Jeremiah 8, Matthew 22 (individual)

July 13: Joshua 18-19, Psalms 149-150 (family); Jeremiah 9, Matthew 23 (individual)

July 14: Joshua 20-21, Acts 1 (family); Jeremiah 10, Matthew 24 (individual)

July 15: Joshua 22, Acts 2 (family); Jeremiah 11, Matthew 25 (individual)

A Vision of Jesus

Have you ever had a vision of Jesus?

Peter did. So did James and John.

Check it out in today’s reading: Matthew 17.

Jesus led the three of them up a high mountain by themselves. “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (17:2, ESV).

But it got better. “And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him” (17:3).

How do you think you’d respond to something like that?

Check out Peter’s response: “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (17:4). There’s no doubt that what Peter was seeing was awesome, so awesome that he wanted it to last. Here was Jesus, the Christ (16:16), in his glory! With Moses and Elijah! Why wouldn’t he want to stay there with them on the mountain?

But this wasn’t necessarily God’s intent for them. While Peter was still speaking God spoke from a cloud, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (17:5). Peter would have done better to listen rather than offer his own opinion. Here was Jesus, talking to Moses and Elijah. What were they talking about? I have no idea. But maybe if Peter would have kept his mouth shut the disciples would have heard it and written it down!

Sometimes in our excitement at being in God’s presence we speak too soon. We want what is happening to last–it’s good! But it’s not about us. It’s about what God is trying to tell us. We, with Peter, should follow the advise of the proverb, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise” (Proverbs 17:28).

Ultimately, our response should be similar to that of the disciples, who, upon hearing the voice of God “fell on their faces and were terrified” (Matt. 17:6). Christ’s glory is infinitely great and we are infinitely unworthy to be in his presence. When we recognize that, it should cause us to fall in reverent awe before him, overcome by infinite gratitude of his grace toward us.

His grace is evident in Jesus’ words to his disciples. “Rise, and have no fear” (17:7). It is Christ who causes us to stand before God, not in our own worth, but in his righteousness.

When you experience a vision of Jesus, listen.

Listen with awe. Listen with gratitude.

And be changed.