devos from the hill


Leave a comment

God’s Love and Justice Intersect

At the cross His justice was satisfied and His love fulfilled.
Lesson 54 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

After nailing Jesus to the wood, they lifted Him up to die. Over Him they placed a sign indicating that on this cross hangs the King of the Hebrew people. The religious leaders objected, but the soldiers followed the governor’s orders. The sign remained. Some reviled Him …others mourned. Yet through it all Jesus did not say a harsh word. Instead, speaking to His Father in Heaven He said, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” For three hours darkness fell over the land. It seemed so senseless. And yet it made perfect sense.

God is righteous and just and pure. He could not accept the evil that entered the world through Satan. Nor could He accept the evil that entered humankind through Adam, for to do so would be to violate His character, and corrupt His nature.

But God is also love. He created people to love them and to be loved by them. For God to judge people for the evil in them would be to destroy the very objects of His love.

This was a dilemma of divine proportions. But according to His story, this moment had been planned before creation, and predicted throughout the ages.

At the cross Jesus took our sin upon Himself. He paid the penalty for our sin. He became our substitute. At the cross God’s justice was satisfied, and His love fulfilled.

– The HOPE, Chapter 10

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Millions of people around the world wear crosses as jewelry. But in reality, the cross is an instrument of death, not an ornament.1 After being “tried” by the Hebrew religious leaders, the governor, and a Hebrew king named Herod…after being beaten to near death…after being rejected by a frenzied crowd…Jesus was then sent out to a place called Golgotha (the Place of the Skull) to die on a cross.

While the events surrounding the cross of Jesus are described in the final chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, no amount of words can fully describe or capture the meaning of that cross and what Jesus accomplished on it. What He did was horrible and yet beautiful, obscene and yet holy, common and yet magnificent, simple and yet brilliant.

If you have not already done so, read carefully the excerpt above from The HOPE. Consider the phrase “a dilemma of divine proportions.” The dictionary defines a dilemma as a situation that requires a choice between options that seem mutually exclusive; a problem that seems to defy a solution. If you could pull back the facade of visible forces that appear to rule our world, (namely the power of people and the power of nature), you would find two invisible forces behind it all, shaping the course of history as we observe it. The first is God’s love for people, and the second is His righteous responsibility to judge them. These two great forces seem to be irreconcilable to each other – “a dilemma of divine proportions.” Yet at the cross of Jesus these two great forces were forever reconciled! Continue reading


Leave a comment

What Is Truth?

Don’t be sidetracked. The truth is a person… Jesus.
Lesson 53 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”… Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom, that I should release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” Therefore they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber. Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him.

– John 18:33–19:1

Now Jesus had spoken often of the Kingdom of God. So the governor asked Him, “Are you a King?” Jesus said that His Kingdom “is not of this world.” The governor said to the religious leaders, “This man has done nothing deserving of death.” But the religious leaders continued to seek the death of Jesus, claiming He was a threat to the people and the governor. Jesus did not defend Himself. The governor was amazed.

– The HOPE, Chapter 10

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Entire books have been written on the events that took place during the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Because The HOPE is a summary overview of the Bible, it cannot deal with all of the events of the Bible, and certainly not with each one in detail. This lesson will focus primarily on just one detail in one of these events.

After celebrating the Passover meal, Jesus and His disciples went to a garden. There Jesus was seized and taken before the Hebrew religious leaders. They questioned Jesus and found Him guilty of claiming to be the Son of God. He was then sent to the foreign governor (Pilate) who ruled over the land of the Hebrews. The Hebrew religious leaders reasoned that if Jesus asserted before Pilate His claim to be a king (or any other kind of “ruler”), then the governor would be forced to deal harshly with Jesus, perhaps even putting Him to death. This is where our present lesson begins.

Pilate asks Jesus if He is a king. Jesus answers that His Kingdom is not of this realm. Jesus then says that He has “come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” At this point we can only speculate what the governor is thinking. Both Matthew 27:14 and Mark 15:5 tell us that the governor is “amazed” at Jesus. Even though Pilate may not understand exactly who Jesus is, he knows that Jesus is someone of a very exceptional nature. The governor then asks Jesus, “What is truth?” Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Lamb of God Celebrates Passover

He wrote the story and then submitted Himself to it.
Lesson 52 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And when the hour had come He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

– Luke 22:14–20

And while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

– Matthew 26:26–28

And so it came to pass, that Jesus, whom John called the Lamb of God, went up to Jerusalem, to observe Passover…Jesus gathered His disciples to celebrate Passover. Taking the Passover bread, Jesus broke it and said, “This is my body, which is given for you.” Then He took the wine, which represented the blood of the Passover lamb, which had been placed over the entrances of the Hebrew dwellings. And He said, “This is my blood which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

– The HOPE, Chapter 10

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Recall from Lesson 34 that God instructed the Hebrew people to institute an annual celebration called Passover so that they would remember how He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. When the ruler of Egypt refused to let the people go, God sent death to every first–born child in the land, but He “passed over” those in a dwelling with the blood of a lamb over the entrance. They were “covered by the blood.” Many Hebrew people traveled great distances to observe Passover in Jerusalem, the main city of their land. Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus took His disciples to Jerusalem to observe Passover.

According to the Biblical account (Exodus 12:5-8, Numbers 9:11-12), the Passover meal included three essential food items: roasted lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Each of these elements was meant to remind future generations about what God had done to deliver their forefathers from  bondage in Egypt.1

The lamb would remind them of the unblemished lamb that had to be slain, and its blood placed on their doorposts so that death would “pass over” those inside. The bitter herbs would remind them of slavery under the Egyptians. The unleavened bread had a double meaning. First, because this bread did not require time to rise, it reminded the Hebrew people of their hasty departure from Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:3). Second, with leaven being a Biblical symbol for sin and corruption, this bread would remind them of a life that was not ruled by sin. Against this backdrop of rich history and imagery, Jesus gathered His disciples for a Passover meal and then proceeded to give a radically new spiritual meaning to this sacred tradition. Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Good Thing or The God Thing?

Everybody had an agenda for Jesus – do you?
Lesson 51 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

– Mark 9:31–32

From that time Jesus Christ 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 be raised up on the third day. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”

– Matthew 16:21–25

He began explaining to His disciples the true nature of His mission. He told them that soon He would be given over to the religious leaders and killed. Three days later He would rise from the dead. His disciples heard what He was saying, but they could not bring themselves to embrace the full meaning of His words.

– The HOPE, Chapter 10

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

As the end of His earthly ministry neared, Jesus began telling His disciples that soon He would suffer and die, and three days later rise from the dead. From the Mark 9 excerpt above, “they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him,” it is clear that His disciples had no place in their thinking for what Jesus was saying. And what’s more, His words were so hard for them to handle that they feared to ask for an explanation.

The response from Peter in the Matthew excerpt above is even more dramatic. Peter didn’t simply fail to understand, but boldly rejected what Jesus was saying. “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Peter is saying “God forbid it” to Jesus, who is God! Jesus responds to Peter so strongly that it is almost startling. “Get behind Me, Satan …you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Jesus was essentially saying that Satan himself was working through Peter to protest God’s will in action.

Jesus then spoke words that apply not only to Peter, but to everyone who wants to follow Jesus, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”

What a contradiction to our natural way of thinking! If you want to save your life, you’ve got to give it up for His sake. This statement challenges the hearer to go far beyond simply acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ (the Deliverer), the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16)! The challenge here is complete abandonment to His will. Continue reading