Lenten Devotion: Pilate’s First Appearance

…There were some present at that very time who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (Luke 13:1).

Read Luke 13:1-5

Today we catch our first glimpse of Pontius Pilate, the Roman military governor. Jesus is making His way toward Jerusalem when He gets word of a recent tragic event in Jerusalem. While some of Jesus’ fellow Galileans were offering sacrifices in the temple courts, Pilate’s soldiers rushed in and killed them. This event is not recorded by any other Gospel writer or ancient historian and Luke doesn’t explain Pilate’s reasons, he is more interested in Jesus’ reaction.

“Do you think that these Galileans where worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way?” That’s how people thought in that day, and it’s a conclusion we sometimes are too quick to jump to in our day too. If someone suffers something horrendous such as a tragic accident or an illness, then God must be punishing them for some secret sin. Jesus warns us not to judge by outward appearances.

In a short time another Galilean will be killed at the hands of Pontius Pilate. People will look at Jesus hanging on the cross and reach the false conclusion that God is punishing Him for falsely claiming to be His Son. But in truth, Jesus is God’s perfect Son. He will hang on the cross and endure punishment for the sins of all people for all time. This He will do so that God may give complete forgiveness to all who repent and believe.

Jesus continues, “No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” All people are sinners. Only those who repent and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice in their place will find salvation and eternal life.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, teach me not to judge how You feel about me or anyone else by mere appearances and circumstances. Let me instead live by faith in Jesus Christ my Lord. I pray in His Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Peace at All Costs

…(Jesus said) “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).

Read Luke 12:49-53

The hostility against Jesus grows. His enemies will not stop until He hangs dead on a cross.

That doesn’t seem to fit the words of the Christmas angels: “Peace on earth” (see Luke 2:14). But the angels weren’t talking about peace among people. They said, “Peace among those with whom God is pleased.” God is only pleased when we recognize our failings, and then trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.

The Jewish leaders won’t accept that they are misleading God’s people. They cling to their errors and refuse to turn to their Messiah for forgiveness. Jesus warns His disciples that hostility will one day turn against them.

Listen to the urgency in His voice: “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is My distress until it is accomplished!” The fire Jesus wishes to cast is the cross; His bloody sacrifice divides believers from unbelievers. The fire of that cross rages across the earth to this very day.

Jesus asks, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?” How often do we compromise the truth or stand in silence trying to live at peace with others? Not so with Jesus. He refuses to wash His hands if it will support a satanic lie. He powerfully attacks the deception of the Pharisees and scribes so they will recognize Satan’s lies and turn to Him for salvation.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, there can be no compromise between You and Satan, truth and error, life and death, heaven and hell. Help me cling at all costs to the peace believers have with You, which Jesus Christ won. I pray in His Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Midweek Worship

Pastor Edwards from Faith Lutheran will lead us in worship this Wednesday evening.

John 19:26-27

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Lenten Devotion: I’m Not Washing

…The Pharisee was astonished to see that He did not first wash before dinner (Luke 11:38).

Read Luke 11:37-54

Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time. One Sabbath He stops to teach in a synagogue. After the service a Pharisee invites Him to share His morning meal. Before they eat, the Pharisee and his other guests carefully wash their hands, according to Jewish traditions. They believe eating with unwashed hands would contaminate the food which, in turn, made the body unclean in God’s eyes.

It was time for Jesus to confront that error. Knowing all humans are contaminated by the sinful nature they receive from their parents and not from eating unclean food, Jesus refuses to wash His hands. His host is astonished, but Jesus refuses to back down.

He then starts blasting the traditions they trust to earn their way to heaven. It may seem unwise for Jesus to turn up the heat, but it is the greatest act of kindness anyone could do for them. If they keep straining to wash a little uncleanness from their hands, they will never let God remove the uncleanness and sin from their hearts, minds and souls.

This brings a complaint from the scribes. When He attacks the Pharisees, Jesus is really attacking the scribes, whose traditions the Pharisees are following. Jesus turns the heat up again. He accuses the scribes of burying God’s gracious Old Testament promises beneath their traditions, which deceive people into relying on their own works rather than God’s free forgiveness as given through His Son, the Messiah.

The Pharisees and scribes strenuously object. They pressure Him to speak on more things, lying in ambush, hoping He will blurt out something carelessly.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, Your Son Jesus made clear there is only one way into Your presence, through faith in Him. Drive from my heart and mind the lie that there are many ways. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.

Lenten Devotion: Shining in Glory

…And as He was praying, the appearance of His face was altered, and His clothing became dazzling white (Luke 9:29).

Read Luke 9:28-36

Eight days after Jesus predicted His death and resurrection, He takes three disciples up a mountain where He is transfigured before them. Peter had called Him the Christ of God. Now he can look upon the glorious face of God’s eternal Son. Jesus always had this glory, but from His conception until that very moment it had been hidden behind His humanity. Now, for a brief moment, it bursts forth on the mountain.

This glorious sight might strengthen Peter, James and John’s false dream of Jesus reigning over a glorious, earthly kingdom. But Moses and Elijah-two great leaders from the Old Testament-stand speaking with Jesus about His departure and how He will complete His earthly mission through His death, resurrection and ascension. Peter, James and John awaken. Seeing Moses and Elijah beginning to leave, Peter blurts out his desire to build three shelters so they can stay.

Suddenly, a bright cloud envelopes Jesus and the three disciples. And from the cloud the voice of the Father speaks out, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” Jesus has much to teach them-and us-about our earthly life and how He will lay down His life, so we might live forever with Him.

After the voice had spoken, Jesus was again alone with them, back to His normal, veiled appearance. He then leads them down the mountain on the path that will take Him to the cross.

THE PRAYER: Almighty God, in Jesus’ transfiguration we see His full glory as Your mighty and eternal Son. Strengthen my trust in Him as my Savior, so I may see His glory face to face in heaven. I pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.