Sunday - A Triumphant Arrival
Please read Mark 11:1-11. On the first day of the week, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfilling an ancient prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). Politically, it would have been wiser to slip quietly into the city and avoid the hostile authorities. Instead, Jesus entered as King, encouraging His disciples to participate in the drama.
Though he was their King, he would reign as the Prince of Peace and by his coming, would make it possible for them to have a new relationship with God. Recognition brings many things but in this instance it brought a great burst of praise.
Thought for today: It is easy to get carried away in praise yet it is so hard to follow Jesus when it means taking up our cross. Pray that we will not expect our life to be a bed of roses and ask God to help us to keep on trusting when we get scratched.
Monday - Clearing The Temple
Please read Mark 11:12-19. Instead of the quiet, peace and restfulness, indicative of the presence of God, when Jesus came to the temple he found it a thriving community where commerce, not commitment was the order of the day. The greatest shock for some at the beginning of that week, was that Jesus' wrath was not directed at the hated Romans but at the hypocrisy that He saw within the nation of Israel. What a reminder that is for us to keep our own short accounts with God - and with one another. God is looking for us to deal with the issues in our own life first, so that we bring integrity and honour to the gospel we proclaim.
Thought for today: Ask God to show you what areas of your life and what areas within the life of this church need a good cleansing. Pray for forgiveness of sin, release from anything that holds you in an unnatural way and pray that God may make this fellowship a beacon of light for all who need to hear and discover the good news.
Tuesday - Controversy and Parables
Please read Mark 11:27-13:37. At every stage of his ministry, there is usually someone around, trying to catch Jesus out.
Today it's no different as we find the Chief Priests, Teachers of the law, the Elders, Pharisees and Herodians and the Sadducees confronting Jesus once again.
Everyone was amazed at Jesus' teaching (Mark 12:17). He reminds us of our need to put God in his rightful place, loving him with all our heart, soul and strength and loving our neighbours as ourselves. In the parable of the widow's offering (Mark 12:41ff.) we see that she gave out of her poverty, sacrificially; her values were kingdom ones responding to what God had given.
Thought for today: To what extent do we still hold onto the values of the world as opposed to Kingdom values? Ask God to help you to focus on what is important to Him rather than to yourself. Be prepared to give generously out of your riches in Christ.
Wednesday - A day of rest?
The gospel accounts seemingly do not refer to this day. Take time today to prepare for Easter; pray, fast if that is right for you, read Mark's account of Jesus' last days in one sitting and bring your prayers of adoration and thanks to Jesus for all that he did for you.
Thursday - Passover Celebrations: The Last Meal
Please read Mark 14:12- 26. The scene is set as the final drama begins to unfold. In an upper room - fully furnished - in the house of a friend, Jesus prepared himself and his disciples for his death, fully aware that this would be His last (but greatest) Passover. They ate and shared together, conscious of what the meal meant for them: from their history, a reminder of God's love for his chosen people; for the present a celebration of fellowship; for the future a new covenant - a new way - of life, given for many.
As believers we are often conscious of God's hand at work in the past but how aware are we of God working in us now? Do we realise that God is not just a God of history but the God of the present and the future as well?
Thought for today: What is God doing in your life now? Are you growing, standing still or slipping back? Spend time thanking God for saving you, thank him for the provision of all you need for today, ask him to help you grow closer to him. (You may wish to use the Lord's Prayer in your prayer time - take time to reflect on each phrase).
Friday - Interrogation and Crucifixion
Please read Mark 15:1-47. A night of interrogation, torture, rejection and abuse climaxes in public humiliation and execution by crucifixion - a criminal's death.
Almost at the last, the pain of separation that Jesus had begun to experience in the garden the night before, reaches its height. His own Father's face is turned away.
We cannot imagine the pain and anguish of Christ as he hung on the cross. Physically the nails ripped his hands and feet, his breathing would, at best, be laboured as he struggled to keep upright. Spiritually, the world went dark as he hung there. In that place, within that short span of time, the sins of the world from ages past and ages to come were heaped onto Jesus - our sins amongst them. Jesus went to this place and to this punishment voluntarily; it is the only way that you and I could ever be free.
Thought for today: What has impressed you most about the way Jesus behaved through the last week of his life as he went to his death? His humility? His love? Thank God today that Jesus was prepared to die for you, to take your punishment and in doing so, release you into the opportunity of a new relationship with God.
Saturday - In the tomb
Centuries ago, a Chinese Emperor had his tomb surrounded by hundreds of full sized terracotta models of fighting men, as if to defy death and somehow hold on to glory. It was all in vain. That wasn't the case with the death of Jesus: it was not in vain but His glory was about to be revealed.
As the Sabbath fell at about 6 pm on Friday evening, the body of Jesus had been removed to a nearby tomb. What had already happened was remarkable: a criminal receives forgiveness; an army officer becomes aware of who Jesus is, a wealthy member of the ruling council declares his hand for God. The great harvest has begun!
Thought for today: Lord, I have joined those who stood around your cross so many years ago as I watched you dying there. I have felt my love responding to your sacrifice. Let my love become words and actions today I pray.
Sunday - He is Risen!
Please read Mark 16:1-8. An empty cross, empty grave clothes and an empty tomb - the best news ever!
Critics of Christianity question the truth of the resurrection by suggesting that Jesus did not really die.
Try telling that to the women who watched his last hours and who saw the body being carried into the tomb. Try telling that to the Roman soldiers who did their gruesome duty.
On that first Easter day, the women were looking for Jesus but in all the wrong places; people still do. He isn't in church institutions nor religious tradition or even in books. He can't be confined or locked up in those ways because he has brought freedom and release for all who will trust and believe in him. All because He is alive – He is risen from the dead!
He is at work in the world, so he is here with us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit. The truth has not changed: He was, is, and will remain, the way the truth and the life.
Thought for today: Praise God and thank Him that Jesus rose from the dead. Ask that God may forgive us when we look for Jesus in the wrong places and that he might set us free to boldly proclaim the truth, so that many people will find peace and hope through the risen Jesus.