The Very Stones Would Cry Out

Bible:

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:39-40 ESV

Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
to set his nest on high,
to be safe from the reach of harm!
You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
For the stone will cry out from the wall,
and the beam from the woodwork respond. Habakkuk 2:9-11 ESV

Reflection:

In our second Bible reading, the prophet Habakkuk talks about people who were using their houses to cheat people and get more money for themselves. Habakkuk said that the stones of the walls of the house would cry out against these evil acts, and also the wooden beams would tell about the terrible things the owner of the house was doing. Wood and stones don’t talk, of course, and they don’t see or hear or think. But the prophet used the idea of stones crying out to say that something so terrible was happening that the stones of these houses would cry out, if only they could see and hear and were able to talk!

Jesus used a similar picture after he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, and all his followers and the crowds were shouting, “Hosanna!” They were saying that Jesus was their king and their Messiah, and they were praising him for being ready to save them. The Pharisees didn’t like this at all. They told Jesus to stop his disciples from praising him, but Jesus said that if the people were silent, the stones would cry out. He was saying that if the stones could see and hear and know and talk, they would see that Jesus was the Messiah and the king who had come to make all things new in the whole universe, and they would praise him.

Jesus is our Savior and our king, and he came to bring us back from the sin and death that has spoiled all of God’s creation. His death and resurrection defeated all the forces of evil that held everything captive, and we are now God’s people and part of his kingdom. Someday Jesus will return and completely bring death and evil to an end, and we will live forever in the new heaven and new earth, where everything in his new creation will praise and bring glory to him.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to make everything new. Help us to praise you always. Amen.

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A Very Special Donkey

Bible:

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.  And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:1-10 ESV

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever heard the story of the Palm Sunday donkey? He was the little donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem while people sang praises to their king and waved palm branches and put them in the road. Jesus knew this little donkey and had sent his disciples to find him, and the donkey knew he had been given a very special job. He was very honored to carry a king into the holy city of Jerusalem. But then sad things began to happen. Only a few days later, Jesus was put on a cross to die, and the little donkey was there when it happened. He stood and watched while Jesus died, and the shadow of the cross fell across his back. God let the shadow stay on the faithful little donkey, and today if you see a donkey, you will usually see a cross on his shoulders and back. This cross is a reminder of the very special job he had on Palm Sunday.

This is only a story, but it tells something that is true. Jesus didn’t ride a magnificent horse into Jerusalem that day, but instead he came humbly, riding on a donkey. Crowds of people praised him as their king and Savior, but they didn’t realize what was about to happen to him. Jesus didn’t come into Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government and to give the Jewish people independence and freedom. They might have expected this, but Jesus knew he was coming to die on the cross. The story of the Palm Sunday donkey helps us remember that Jesus was a humble king who had come to give his life for his people.

Jesus died on the cross for all people everywhere, and that includes us. Everyone who believes in Jesus knows the forgiveness of sins and becomes part of his kingdom. We serve a humble king, and that means that we are willing to help and serve other people rather than wanting to be powerful and to have our own way. We are a little like the Palm Sunday donkey. We might not have the shadow of the cross on our backs, but when people see the ways we are willing to help and to serve, they can see the cross of Jesus in our lives.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being a humble king who died on the cross for us. Amen.

Changed by Jesus’ Love

Bible:

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10 ESV

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. I Timothy 1:15 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old proverb that says, “A cat may look at a king.” This saying came from England and goes back almost 500 years! What it means is that anyone, no matter how humble or unimportant they might be, has some basic rights that not even a powerful king can take away from him or her.

Zacchaeus wasn’t really a humble or unimportant person, but not many people liked him very much. He was a tax collector, and he took people’s money and gave it to the Roman government, so it seemed as if he was working for the enemy. Worse than that, Zacchaeus wasn’t honest. He took more money than he had a right to take, and he cheated and stole from people. He was very rich for that reason, but that didn’t win him many friends. When Jesus was walking by, he wanted to see him, but he was really short, and no one would get out of his way so he could see Jesus. So he climbed a tree!

All Zacchaeus wanted to do was to see Jesus. He knew he had done some terribly wrong things, and he couldn’t hope that Jesus would be willing to talk to him or love him or forgive him. But when Jesus saw him, he told him to come down from the tree. He wanted to visit Zacchaeus’ home! Zacchaeus was very happy to have Jesus come and visit him. He knew then that Jesus loved him and forgave him his sins, and it changed his life. Even though other people were upset that Jesus loved and forgave Zacchaeus, the tax collector responded to Jesus’ love by promising to be honest in the future. He promised to pay back everything he stole, and to give half of his money to the poor. Jesus’ love had made a huge difference in his life.

Jesus’ love and forgiveness also makes a difference in our lives, too. We know that Jesus died on the cross to win God’s forgiveness for us, and that his live will never fail us. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us live new lives that respond to that love.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful love. Help us respond to your love by loving others. Amen

 

Possible with God

Bible:

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:23-27 ESV

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

Reflection:

Once there was a miller who bragged to the king that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The king was a very greedy man, and so he took the miller’s daughter and locked her into a room filled with straw. He told her that she had to spin all the straw into gold before morning, or she would be put to death. When the miller’s daughter was left alone, she began to cry, because she couldn’t really spin straw into gold. It was impossible for her to do, but suddenly a little man appeared who knew how to do this. He did it for her, and her impossible task was finished before the night was over.

After the disciples saw the rich young man walk away from Jesus very sadly, he said to them that it is very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples were really surprised to hear this, because they believed that God blessed rich people with their wealth because they were extra-good people. Rich people often get what they want in this life, and it seemed reasonable to believe that they would get whatever they wanted from God, too. But Jesus said that that wasn’t the case. He also said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Of course, it’s impossible for a huge camel to go through the eye of a tiny needle! The disciples wondered who could possibly be saved then, and Jesus said that what is an impossible task for people is completely possible for God.

Entering the kingdom of God is an impossible task for anyone, because we all are sinners. We need God to bring us into his kingdom, and that’s why he sent Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to pay for all of our sins, and because of what he did for us, we are forgiven and have become God’s people. It can be extra-hard for people who think they can take care of everything by themselves to trust God for eternal life, and that’s why it can be extra-hard for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom. But God sends us his Holy Spirit, who gives us hearts of faith to trust what Jesus has done for us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us into your kingdom through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Endless Forgiveness

Bible:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:21-35 ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story about a fox who was getting into a farmer’s fields and eating his crops. The farmer became angry with the fox and tied a rope to the fox’s tail. Then he set the rope on fire. He wanted to get revenge on the fox for the damage the fox had caused, but the fox was afraid of the fire and tried to run away from it. He ran through the farmer’s fields and set all of the crops on fire, and the farmer lost everything. His desire for revenge caused him terrible pain and loss.

Jesus warned Peter and the other disciples that not forgiving others puts us in danger of losing all of the love and forgiveness God has given us. Peter wanted to know how many times he should forgive someone who had sinned against him. He thought that seven times would be enough, but Jesus said that he should forgive seventy-seven times. The idea is not to count, but rather to give forgiveness and love as completely and freely as God gives it to us. Then Jesus told a story about a servant who owed such a huge debt to his king that he could never hope to repay it, and the king was about to throw this servant into jail. When the servant begged for mercy, the king forgave him the whole debt. But after this, when the servant met another servant who only owed him a little bit of money, he demanded to be paid, and wouldn’t show any mercy at all. When the king heard about this, he became very angry with his servant and threw him into prison. This is a picture of God, who forgives all of our sins every day, but wants us to forgive others who hurt us. Jesus warns us of God’s judgment for those who will not forgive others.

This is a very hard teaching of Jesus. It isn’t easy to forgive others when we feel hurt and angry. When someone has done a bad thing, we don’t want to say that it wasn’t bad or that it was okay. But forgiving means that we leave everything in God’s hands and let him take care of it all. Forgiving means that we hope that God will change the heart of the other person and work for good through anything that is wrong, and also that he will heal our own sad and angry hearts. Forgiving is just letting the Lord be in control of the situation instead of letting our anger destroy us and cut us off from God’s mercy. Not forgiving someone is saying that we want to take care of everything by ourselves, and soon we will think we can take care of our own sins all by ourselves. That’s when we turn away from God’s mercy and say that we don’t want it.

Jesus came to show us how great and wonderful God’s mercy is. He took all of our sins and paid for them at the cross, even though it cost him his life and caused him terrible pain. We can take all of our sins to the cross and find God’s forgiveness there, and we can take the wrongs that other people have done and leave them at the cross too. God’s mercy is great enough to cover it all, and his love is wonderful enough to give us the healing and help we need.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love and mercy. Please help us to forgive others the way you have forgiven us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Way of the Cross

Bible:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:21-23 ESV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

Reflection:

Mark was a very smart young man, and he was going to college to become a doctor. When Linda started dating Mark, she had all kinds of happy dreams about getting married to him. She imagined herself as a rich doctor’s wife, and the lovely house they would buy, and the expensive car she would drive, and the nice clothes she would wear. She started to think about giving fancy parties for the new friends they would make who would be rich like them. Linda became upset and angry when Mark told her that he planned to go and be a doctor in a poor part of the world where people didn’t have any medical care. Mark planned to live a life of hard work in a small house among people who were poor and needy. Linda tried to talk Mark out of the life he had chosen for himself and to make him change his plans so he could live the life of a rich, successful doctor instead.

This is a little like what happened when Jesus started to teach his disciples about what was going to happen to him. Jesus knew that the time was coming when he would be arrested and mistreated and whipped and mocked and finally be put on a cross to die, and he told his disciples what they could expect to happen. This upset all of his disciples very much, because they believed that Jesus was the Messiah God had promised to their people, and they expected him to become a great king and to drive the Romans away from their country. Peter was so upset that he took Jesus aside and tried to tell him that he shouldn’t go the way of the cross, but instead that he should go the way of triumph and power. But Jesus scolded Peter very strongly. He even called him Satan! He said that Peter was thinking about things in a human way instead of in God’s way. Jesus wouldn’t let Peter turn his away from his road to the cross.

Jesus went to the cross because of his great love for us. We had turned away from God and gone our own way, and Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven and we could come home to our Heavenly Father. He set aside all his power and glory and let himself be killed for our sake, but that wasn’t the end of the story. Peter and the other disciples missed one thing that Jesus told them. He said that on the third day he would be raised again. God’s way for Jesus started with sorrow and pain, but it would end with triumph and joy. We also will someday know the full joy of Jesus’ resurrection when our dead bodies are raised and we enter God’s heavenly kingdom forever!

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for going the way of the cross for me. Amen.

Food that Perishes

Bible:

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” John 6:22-27 ESV

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV

Reflection:

Calvin’s dad got up on a beautiful summer morning and felt gloomy. It was such a nice day, and he didn’t want to go to work. He didn’t want to deal with the traffic and the stressful schedules and the phone calls, but instead he wanted to stay home and enjoy the house and the family that he was working for. He had just about decided to take the day off when Calvin came running by, and in a minute Calvin’s mom came after him, very angry and yelling at Calvin for putting dead bugs into her shampoo. Calvin’s dad realized that the home and family he was working for wouldn’t satisfy him or make him happy if he took a day off, so he went to work after all.

After Jesus had fed many, many people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, he quickly went away to be by himself. He knew that the people wanted to make him their king so that he would give them food every day. In the middle of the night he joined his disciples in their boat after walking on the water to meet them, and the next day the people wondered where he had gone. They got into boats and went to the other side of the lake themselves, and were very surprised to find Jesus there, teaching and healing. “When did you come here?” they asked him. Jesus didn’t answer their question, but instead he started to teach them and to warn them. He knew that they were only looking for him because he had given them food to eat, and he wanted them to see that he had so much more to offer them than that. He told them not to put all their energy into earning money to buy food and other things that don’t last forever and don’t really satisfy. He wanted them to look to him for the gift of eternal life.

Jesus came to give everyone who believes in him the gift of eternal life. Sometimes we also get caught up in the things of this world. We work hard to get nice homes and clothes and delicious food other things that we think will make us happy, but these thing won’t last forever, and they can’t really satisfy us. Jesus calls us to turn to him and see the things that really do matter, our life with God and his love for us. He came to die for us for our sins of turning away from our Heavenly Father and going our own way, and he forgives our sins every day. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust in him for everything we need, and especially for his best gifts of all.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help us to trust you for everything, and to value your gift of eternal life more than all the things we have in this world. Amen.

Source:

Watterson, Bill Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1992, p. 18.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

Bible:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
 make his paths straight.’”

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Matthew 3:1-6 ESV

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5 ESV

Reflection:

In 2015, King Harald V of Norway came to visit Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State. The university had to do many things to prepare for their royal visitor, even months before he came. They inscribed some stones on campus to honor the king. They invited people to come and wave flags and perform Norwegian dances and greet the king when he arrived on campus. The university made sure they had a Norwegian flag to fly on the campus square and arranged to have it flying when the king appeared. They had to make sure they had an appropriate gift to give the king. They had to plan to let the media–TV and radio and newspapers and the internet–know about the visit, but they had to make sure that the announcement they made was okay with the king’s employees at the royal palace in Norway. Parking plans for the visit and seating arrangements for a special luncheon had to be arranged. In all, it was very stressful and challenging to prepare for a visit from the king!

When Jesus was about to begin his ministry, John the Baptist began his work of preparing the people to receive their king. But John didn’t arrange for flags and luncheons and dancers and royal heralds. Instead, he made his announcement out in the wilderness, and the people came out to hear him. John dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt, and he ate wild honey and locusts–which taste a little bit like shrimp when they’re cooked. But as unusual as John’s location and clothing and diet were, his message was very simple. He called on people to repent, to turn away from their sins. And people who were sorry for their sins and wanted to be ready for the promised Savior were baptized in the Jordan River.

When an earthly king comes to visit, people work hard to make sure things go smoothly, and usually they don’t make any serious mistakes. But preparing for Jesus perfectly isn’t possible for anyone. We might try really hard not to sin anymore and to do better, but we always fall short. We need the forgiveness that only Jesus can give us, and that’s the reason he came. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and he washes us in the water of Holy Baptism. He sends us his Holy Spirit to give us hearts that want to turn away from sin and walk in God’s ways. Because of Jesus, we are forgiven every day, and he helps us to follow him and is with us every day with his love and blessings.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for doing everything we needed to make us ready for you. Please forgive our sins and help us to walk with you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.plu.edu/resolute/fall-2015/king-harald/

The Favored One

Bible:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:26-33 ESV

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

Reflection:

Once there was an African king named Cophetua. He didn’t have a wife, but one day he looked out the window and saw a beggar woman named Penelophon. He fell in love with her and decided that she would become his wife and his queen, so he went out with some coins and gave them to all the beggars in the street. When Penelophon came up to him he took her by the hand and told her that he loved her and that he would marry her and make her the queen. So Penelophon went from being a beggar to being a queen, and she and the king lived happily together until they died.

This is only a story, but it’s a little bit like what happened to Mary. She was a humble young woman who lived in a little village called Nazareth, but one day the Angel Gabriel appeared to her with some amazing news. He told her that she was highly favored by the Lord. Mary was afraid and worried about what all of this meant, so the angel explained it to her. God had chosen Mary to be the mother of the Messiah. Her Son would be the one God’s people had been waiting for for centuries, the one from David’s line who would be the king forever. The Lord was giving Mary an amazing, incredible honor.

God has given us his favor, too, through Jesus the Son of Mary. We haven’t been chosen to be the mother of God’s Son, but we have been chosen to be God’s people. We were as weak and helpless as beggars, but God has taken us from the sin and death that had us in their power and brought us into his kingdom. Jesus came to defeat sin and death by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead, and because of Jesus, we have all of God’s love and favor, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us your love and favor through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/boeb/boeb04.htm

Undoing the Evil Edict

Bible:

The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal stud, saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift horses that were used in the king’s service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king’s command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. Esther 8:9-14 ESV

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:10-14 ESV

Reflection:

Once there was a king and a queen who had a beautiful baby princess. When they had a party for their new baby girl, they invited seven fairies from the kingdom, and each of them brought the princess a good gift. When six of them had given their gifts, such as beauty and grace and the ability to sing and dance, an evil fairy who had not been invited came in. She was very angry to have been left out, and she put a curse on the baby princess. The evil fairy said that when the princess was seventeen years old, she would prick her finger on a spindle and die. There was one good fairy left, but she couldn’t completely undo the curse. She couldn’t stop the princess from pricking her finger on a spindle, but instead of dying the good fairy said that the princess would sleep for one hundred years, and then a prince would come and awaken her.

When King Ahasuerus made the law that on a certain day the people of his empire would be allowed to attack and kill all the Jews, it became a law that couldn’t be changed. All of Esther’s pleading couldn’t change the law, but the king did what he could to undo the evil effects of his edict. Mordecai acted for the king to send out a new edict that said that the Jews were allowed to defend themselves from anyone who would attack them. They were also allowed to take any of the wealth and property of the enemies that they killed. Messengers were sent swiftly throughout the empire to get the word of the new edict to everyone.

We were all under a curse because we couldn’t ever obey God’s law perfectly, and the curse of our disobedience to the law is death. But Jesus came to undo that curse for us, and he undid the curse of the law completely. He obeyed God’s law perfectly in our place, and he died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. When Jesus hung on the cross, he became a curse for us, but then he defeated the power of sin and death by rising again from the dead. Because of Jesus, we are free from the curse of sin and death, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior, to undo the curse of the law for us. In His Name, Amen.