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Five Minutes with God

Five Minutes with God is a distinct and exciting approach to daily Bible devotionals. Instead of a lofty goal of going through the entire Bible—or even the New Testament—in one year, Five Minutes with God focuses on shorter passages so that the reader can absorb more of the text and apply it to everyday life. This daily podcast will step you through the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ. Each day’s podcast also ends with a thought for further reflection and a call to prayer. By reading, reflecting, and praying, Five Minutes with God will help you come to know Him, love Him, and follow Him like never before.
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Nov 25, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

As they make the short journey to Golgotha, many of the disciples of Jesus followed behind. Some of these disciples, women who had been faithful to Jesus during His ministry, were weeping and mourning for Him. Even in the midst of His suffering, Jesus speaks to them, warning them of the coming judgment upon Jerusalem. Jesus has warned about this event before (Luke 21:20-24) and now reiterates the certainty of its coming. Because of the hard-heartedness of the Jewish leaders and their rejection of Jesus, God would allow Jerusalem, the holy city, to be defeated. In less than forty years from that time, the city would be overrun and completely destroyed. Jesus had earlier given instructions to His followers on what to do in order to save themselves when they saw that event taking place. The destruction of Jerusalem, not His death, was the event that was truly worthy of mourning. Jesus’ death, while terrible, represented victory. But the destruction of Jerusalem represented nothing but unbelief and defeat for the Jewish people.

How did Jesus’ death represent victory?

Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 24, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,

John reveals that, before He was led away to be crucified, Jesus was scourged. This seems to have been part of Pilate’s plan to secure Jesus’ release, thinking the Jews would be satisfied to see Jesus suffer this agonizing beating at the hands of a Roman soldier. The instrument used for scourging was a short whip made of leather strips, each one with some material (such as bone or metal) attached to the end. As the flagellum was brought down against the tightly stretched skin of the back, each strand of the whip caused deep lacerations and excruciating pain. The Jews had a law that a man could not receive more than forty lashes with a whip. To assure that they did not violate that law, their practice was to stop at thirty-nine. But Jesus was not scourged by the Jews, but by the Romans who had no such law. Jesus was completely at the mercy of the soldier wielding the flagellum. As He stood before the Jewish crowd one last time, beaten and bloody, weakened by dehydration and loss of blood, the Jews mercilessly demanded that Jesus be put to death, adamantly declaring, “We have no king but Caesar!”

What is the significance of the Jews’ statement: “We have no king but Caesar”?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 23, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

In today’s thought, I would like for us to consider what we do not read in this text. We do not read of Jesus retaliating in any way in response to the mocking and abuse. We do not read of Him responding verbally to the things that were said and done. We do not read of Him calling down an army of angels, as He told Peter was within His ability. In fact, we do not read of any attempt to defend Himself at all. Long before this day, Isaiah prophesied about it saying, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Throughout this ordeal, Jesus displays an incredible amount of strength and self-control by silently enduring the abuse and suffering. But how? How could He simply endure when He had the power to stop it, to punish the blasphemers, to free Himself from the pain, to demonstrate once and for all that He was without a doubt the Son of God? The simple answer is that God’s will was His will. Our redemption and salvation were more important than His pride, freedom, or comfort. He willingly suffered because of His great love for us!

How hard would it have been for you to be in Jesus’ position and endure silently?


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Nov 22, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

It is difficult to think about the humiliation and abuse Jesus endured on that day. Even before He was nailed to the cross, Jesus suffered immensely at the hands of the Roman soldiers. They were not acting out of hatred as were the Jewish leaders, for they did not know Jesus and had no feelings toward Him at all. The Romans had little regard for the Jews and viewed them as second-class citizens. To mock this Jewish man and by extension the entire Jewish nation, would have been an easy and natural thing for them to do. These soldiers were trained in the art of torture, and the humiliation that preceded crucifixion was as much for their amusement as it was for the victim’s suffering. But to see Jesus—the King of kings and Lord of lords, a Man full of compassion and grace—standing before them, a crown of thorns pressed into His head, blood trickling down His face as they mockingly bow down before Him as if in worship, is a painful image to consider. And if that were not difficult enough, we are reminded that it was for us that He endured such abuse. Oh, what a Savior!

Why do you think the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus as they did?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 21, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

While Matthew and Mark’s accounts of this event focus on other aspects, Luke focuses his attention on Pilate. This Roman governor had found no fault in Jesus and had no reason to see Him punished. He knew what was right and what should happen. Even if the Jewish accusations were correct, Jesus was only guilty of misleading the people. But they had demanded that He be put to death in place of a convicted rebel and murderer. To Pilate’s credit, he tried again and again to reason with the Jews and argued for Jesus’ release, but all of his arguments fell on deaf ears. However, lest we become too sympathetic toward Pilate, let us remember that ultimately he gave into the pressure of the situation and did what he knew was unmerited and unjust. The persistence and determination of the Jewish leaders had won out and Pilate “delivered Jesus over to their will.”

What lessons are there to be learned from Pilate?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 20, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Can you for a moment put yourself into the shoes of Barabbas? A convicted criminal—a robber, a murderer, a rebel—condemned to die by crucifixion. Even the most hardened of criminals shuddered at the thought of this most torturous form of death. On this day, possibly the day that you are scheduled to die, you are taken from your cell and rushed to the platform overlooking the frenzied crowd. Then, before you know it, and for reasons that you do not understand, they have chosen you to be released. You are not going to die today. This innocent Man will die instead. Though we don’t like to admit it, that is our story. Like Barabbas, we are lawbreakers, convicted of transgressing God’s law with our sins. Because of those transgressions, we are subject to death (Romans 6:23). But there is Jesus, standing in our place, paying our price, accepting our punishment. We are released from our guilt while He suffers in our place. That is our story! Barabbas represents us!

Why do you think that Jesus was willing to suffer for us?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 19, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

We see in this text another attempt by Pilate to weasel out of his responsibility in regard to Jesus. In fulfilling the standing tradition of releasing a Jewish prisoner during this feast week as a goodwill gesture toward the Jews, Pilate placed Jesus, a man who was innocent and only before him because of envy, alongside Barabbas, a notorious prisoner that was known to them to be violent and dangerous. Pilate was confident that he had found a way to release Jesus while staying in the good graces of the Jews; surely they would choose Jesus. Surely they would not want a dangerous criminal like Barabbas back on the streets. But Pilate underestimated the hatred and malice the Jewish leaders felt toward Jesus. They would gladly accept the robber and murderer rather than have Jesus released. Jesus’ death was the only outcome acceptable to these men who were determined to destroy Him. Despite Pilate’s desire to release Jesus, his fear of the crowds and of the backlash of doing the right thing caused him to give in and deliver Jesus to be crucified.

Why do you think Pilate was afraid to release Jesus?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 18, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Jesus was a problem for Pilate. On the one hand, Pilate saw no wrongdoing in Him and knew that He ought to be released. On the other hand, there was an angry and determined group of people who would have it no other way but to see this Man killed. When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he wasted no time in sending Him to Herod, the ruler of that province who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time. Let Jesus be his problem. Then there was Herod, who had no interest in fairness or justice, but who was very interested in seeing Jesus out of curiosity. He desired to see one of the miracles that he had heard so much about, but Jesus gave him not so much as a reply to satisfy his curiosity. What strikes me most about this scene is the complete lack of integrity and justice displayed by both of these government officials. Being commissioned to rule over the people and uphold the law of the land, both of them are completely unwilling to do what is right and just. Though Jesus’ death was ultimately by the will of God, it was made possible by the cowardly acts of men like Pilate and Herod.

How did these men fit into God’s plan?


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Nov 17, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

Matthew is alone in recording the tragic end to Judas’ life, and he does so seemingly for the sole purpose of demonstrating the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in every detail of Jesus’ death. I still believe there is a valuable lesson to be learned from this text. As Judas saw the result of his betrayal of Christ, he was overwhelmed with remorse; so much so that this man, who was driven by greed and love of money to hand Christ over to His enemies, went back to the chief priests and elders to return the thirty pieces of silver that had been the price of his betrayal. He was well aware of his sin and was filled with sorrow because of it. Many have asked the question, “Could Judas have been forgiven and saved?” While I believe the answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes!”—sadly, Judas did not choose the path of forgiveness and restoration. He chose rather to try to escape his guilt by taking his own life, and in so doing, robbed himself of the opportunity to overcome his failures. The lesson? We must remember that there is no sin that is unforgivable except the one that we are unwilling to seek forgiveness for and restoration from.

Why do you think Judas did not seek forgiveness?


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Nov 16, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him."

“What is truth?” It is a profound question, even if Pilate didn’t mean for it to be. While Jesus represented (and in fact embodied) truth, every tactic and accusation employed by His enemies was untruthful. Truth has always made the difference between right and wrong, righteousness and disobedience. To know and obey the truth makes one faithful and pleasing to God. Truth is important! Jesus came to once and for all bring truth to the world. He came into the world, bringing “grace and truth” (John 1:17) and in fact claimed to Himself be “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). In a religious world that is still today filled with confusion, misunderstanding, and inaccurate teaching, Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” is a question that, if asked by an honestly seeking heart, can make all the difference, leading him away from the teachings and ideas of men and to the source of truth, God’s Word.

Why do you think there are so many different “truths” taught today?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 15, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

As the Jews bring Jesus before Pilate, they do so with a flurry of charges of crimes against the Roman government. They wanted Jesus to be viewed as an enemy of the state, One who had no regard for the Empire or its leaders. Of course, Jesus had done nothing to violate Roman law. He had shown due respect for those in authority and had instructed His disciples to give to Caesar what was due him (pay taxes). As was mentioned in yesterday’s reading, the only charge that Pilate finds credible seems to be the charge that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews. It is the only charge that he questioned Jesus about, but even in that charge, Pilate sees no guilt in Him. He quickly sees through the ploy of the Jews and declares publicly that He finds no fault in Jesus. But the Jews had come too far to turn back now. They will not take “no” for an answer. In response to Pilate’s verdict, they simply become more fierce and demanding, declaring the guilt of Jesus.

Why did the Jews need Pilate to find Jesus guilty?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 14, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

“Are You the King of the Jews?” The Jews were hoping this charge would be seen as an act of insubordination against the Roman government, one punishable by death. In the eyes of Pilate, it was the only accusation levied against Jesus with any substance. Jesus was in fact the King of the Jews. No, He was not the Jewish king that had been condoned by the Roman government. Rather, He was the King of kings and Lord of lords, the One foretold and promised by the prophets of old. Ironically, the greatest promise of God, the greatest source of hope for God’s people, was the very thing that the Jewish leaders held against Jesus and used to accuse Him before Pilate. When asked about this charge, Jesus did not deny it but responded simply, “You have said so.” Neither the unbelief and rejection of the Jewish leaders, nor the condemnation of the Roman government could change the undeniable fact that Jesus Christ was, and is, the King of kings and Lord of lords!

What does it mean to say that Jesus is King of kings?


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Nov 13, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

According to Jewish law, one suspected of a crime could not be tried at night. All of the hearings, interrogations, and abuse that Jesus had endured the night before had been unlawful. But now the morning had come and the underhanded overnight tactics of the Jewish leaders gave way to the more “official” act of delivering Jesus to Pilate for trial. Pilate, the Roman governor, was not interested in Jewish law or in whatever infractions of that law Jesus might have been guilty of. He seemingly questioned Jesus more out of curiosity than anything else, but the thing that intrigued Pilate most was the silence of Jesus in the presence of His accusers. Why did He not speak up? Why did He not defend Himself? Pilate marveled at the quiet and humble spirit of Jesus in the face of such hatred and malice. This Man was no ordinary criminal. There was something special about Jesus.

Why do you think Jesus did not respond to the accusations of the Jews?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 12, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

John’s account of this event includes several interesting details that the other writers do not. One of those details is in the wording of the questions asked of Peter. The first two of those queries are phrased negatively—“You also are not one…are you?” Consider two quick observations about this wording. First, the negative wording of these questions suggests an attitude of disrespect toward Jesus. “Why would anyone be His disciple? Surely you are not!” Second, the negative wording of the questions encourages Peter to deny Jesus and makes that denial easier. Peter doesn’t have to defy the accusers, but simply has to acknowledge that he is not a disciple. Peter was certainly responsible for his own actions, but Satan was cunning in the way he used those around him to tempt him. What’s the lesson for us? Satan is still cunning. He still uses people and situations and even the wording of questions to tempt us to deny Christ and forfeit our relationship with Him. If we are to withstand, we must be strong and courageous.

How would you respond if someone questioned your relationship with Christ?


Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!

Nov 11, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Luke reveals a detail of this event that adds a powerful and emotional element to the story. As the rooster crows following Peter’s third denial of Jesus, Luke tells us that Jesus turns and looks at Peter. From this statement we can infer that, at least during this part of the proceedings, Jesus was in view of Peter. As he denied his Lord, he could see the questioning and abuse Jesus was enduring. Can you imagine what Peter must have felt as he heard the rooster crow and looked toward Jesus only to see His Lord, teacher, and friend looking back at him? As their eyes met, Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken to him just a few hours before and the bold confidence he had displayed in response. What must he have seen in Jesus’ eyes—sadness and disappointment? Possibly, but if so, he certainly also saw love and forgiveness. Peter had failed on this night, but it certainly would not be the end of his relationship with Jesus.

How does this detail affect your view of this story?


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Nov 10, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

As Peter came to the place where Jesus was being interrogated, he did all he could to blend in. He wanted to see what was going to happen to Jesus, concerned for the welfare of his friend and Lord, but he did not want to put himself in danger. Instead of hiding in a dark corner, he warms himself by the fire. He not only denies being with Jesus, but even denies understanding what they are talking about. He even stoops to cursing and swearing in order to avoid suspicion. It occurs to me that we often follow a similar pattern in our own lives. We want to be close to Jesus, maintaining a relationship with Him, but we do not want that relationship to endanger our place in this world. So just as Peter did, we work hard to blend in—to look like, sound like, and act like the world around us, hiding our relationship with Christ. But just as it did in the life of Peter, those actions can only result in our sinful denial of our Lord.

How did Peter’s blending in contribute to his denial of Jesus?


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Nov 9, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

In real time, it had only been a few hours since Peter had stood before Jesus, adamantly denying Jesus’ warning that he would deny Him. In Peter’s mind, there was nothing that could happen that would cause him to shrink from his commitment to His Lord and friend. But he never imagined things would go as they had. When the armed mob showed up in the garden to take Jesus, he had tried to fight in defense of Jesus, but had been rebuked. Jesus had allowed them to bind Him and take Him away. Peter, along with all the others, had fled the scene, but he hadn’t gone far. He was confused and concerned. He wanted to see what would happen, and he was willing to go into harm’s way to follow Jesus. But before he knew it, Peter found himself being confronted. “You were with Him.” Fear took over and—not once, not twice, but three times—Peter heard himself denying his relationship with Jesus. Then, as he heard the rooster crow, Jesus’ words came flooding back into his memory, crushing his spirit and sending shockwaves of guilt and shame through his body. “And he went out and wept bitterly.”

What do you think motivated Peter to follow Jesus into the city?


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Nov 8, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people. [...] The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

John is alone in mentioning the scene at the home of Annas on the night of Jesus’ arrest. Before He is taken to Caiaphas the high priest, the soldiers escort Jesus to the home of Annas, the former high priest and father-in-law of Caiaphas. The Romans had dictated a limit to the amount of time one could serve as high priest, but under Jewish law, the office of high priest was to be a lifetime appointment. So while, as the former high priest, Annas had no official position or authority, he may have, in the eyes of the Jews, still been considered the rightful high priest and thus continued to have a great deal of influence. Only Caiaphas, as the official high priest, could bring charges upon Jesus before the Roman governor, but it is Annas who performs the preliminary examination. It is in the home of Annas that we have the first recorded act of abuse against Jesus, as He is struck by one of the officers for what was considered disrespect toward the high priest. With that act, the physical suffering of Jesus at the hands of His enemies had begun.

Was Jesus disrespectful to Annas? Why or why not?


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Nov 7, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him. When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

“Are You then the Son of God?” It was the right question, the most important question. But it was asked with the wrong heart and motive. The Jewish leaders were not interested in believing in Jesus as the Son of God and promised Messiah. They were not interested in following Him as disciples. Their only desire was to find fault and a reason to accuse Him of blasphemy. Their question was nothing more than a means of finding guilt. Nevertheless, their question was the right question. It is that question that can still make all the difference. Is Jesus the Son of God? If He is, then He is surely worthy of our faith and obedience and our very lives. Still in our own time, if honest and searching hearts are willing to ask the question and accept the obvious answer, then Jesus the Son of God is still able to change their lives and give them salvation. What a Savior!

Why is believing in Jesus as the Son of God so important?


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Nov 6, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’ ” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

To properly understand the events that led to Jesus’ death, we must consider the circumstances of His trials. In yesterday’s reading, we considered the hatred the Jews felt toward Jesus and the hard-hearted determination with which they pursued His death. But to fully realize the lengths to which they were willing to go, we must remember that these religious leaders and teachers of the day were in violation of their own laws with practically every action on the night of Jesus’ arrest. From trying Jesus at night, to the involvement of Annas and Caiaphas, to the lack of opportunity for defense to the physical abuse that Jesus suffered—every element of these trials was a travesty of justice. It boggles the mind to consider how these men who had devoted their lives to upholding the law of God could, on this occasion, treat it with such abuse and disregard. It is a testament to the depths of depravity to which greed and jealousy had taken them, and it serves to warn us against allowing those same attitudes to take root in our hearts.

Why did the Jewish leaders feel such hatred toward Jesus?


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Nov 5, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

It would be difficult to overstate the level of hatred and disdain the Jewish leaders felt toward Jesus. He had questioned their authority, condemned their hypocrisy, and threatened their power. Despite His wisdom, power, and claims to the Son of God, they had made a firm decision that Jesus must be done away with. Their purpose and goal was clear—to see that Jesus was put to death. As they bring Him to the home of Caiaphas in the middle of the night, they search for false witnesses to testify against Jesus. Driven by hatred and treachery, it was not the truth that they were interested in, but only incriminating testimony. However, the flawless character of Jesus’ life is seen in the fact that they could not find even false witnesses who were agreed in their lies concerning Jesus. Finally, when two witnesses recount Jesus’ statement concerning the tearing down and rebuilding of the temple (a prophetic statement about His death and resurrection), the Jewish leaders had their evidence—a statement that they considered to be blasphemous. They were ready to deliver Him to death.

How do you think the Jews were able to justify their actions?


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Nov 4, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John records an interesting detail of this event that the other writers do not. When the band of armed soldiers and officers recognized that it was Jesus who stood before them, John records that they “drew back and fell to the ground.” How do you explain this uncharacteristic response of well-trained and armed men? As Jesus pointed out to them (in other accounts), He had been with them daily in the temple. They knew Him, His character, and His temperament. But they also knew His power. If they had not witnessed it in person, they had certainly heard the stories of Jesus’ power over nature, disease, and even life. They could only imagine what He was capable of if He felt that His life was in danger. Would He strike them down? Would He call fire down from heaven to consume them? Would He inflict them with some terrible disease? Their minds must have reeled with thoughts of what this man could or would do when they confronted Him. As they stand face to face with Jesus, they are for the moment filled with fear and awe to be in His presence.

Is there any lesson we can learn from the soldiers in this text?


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Nov 3, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

The scene was tense and chaotic. Judas arrives with a band of soldiers and officers who are armed and ready for a fight. The apostles are confused and not sure how they should react. Should they fight? Should they run? Should they just do nothing? While some of the apostles turn to Jesus for guidance, Peter takes matters into his own hand and draws his sword, striking the servant of the high priest. But what happens next is truly amazing. As He had done on other occasions throughout His ministry, Jesus brought calm to the chaos. He puts a stop to the violence and bloodshed as quickly as it begins and, in an incredible act of mercy and compassion, heals the injured servant. Can you imagine being Malchus? You are there to take Jesus into custody and lead Him to what will surely end in His death. But He shows nothing but kindness and love toward you. What would you do? How would you respond? Could you continue with your duty, or would you be forced to change your mind? We read nothing more of Malchus and do not know what became of him, but it is difficult to believe that He wasn’t changed by His experience with Jesus on that night.

What would you have done if you had been in Malchus’ place?


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Nov 2, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all left him and fled. And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

As we consider Mark’s account of Jesus’ arrest, I want to focus on Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. He had been a hand-picked apostle of the Lord. He had spent every day of three years with Him, witnessing His love, compassion, and wisdom, learning from His teaching, and experiencing His power. But Judas’ heart belonged to the world, and he had sold His Lord for a mere thirty pieces of silver. As he leads the mob into the garden to take Jesus, notice that Judas addresses Jesus as “Rabbi Rabbi,” a term of respect and reverence. He then identifies Jesus to the mob with, of all things, a kiss—a show of love and friendship. Oh, the depths of Judas’ betrayal! To not only lead Jesus’ enemies to Him, but to make a mockery of the friendship and tutelage that Jesus had extended toward Him was the very epitome of disregard and betrayal. What a powerful force greed and sin can be when they are allowed to take root in the heart!

What can we learn from Judas and his betrayal of Jesus?


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Nov 1, 2015

HOST: Ron House

SPONSOR: Start2Finish

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

From this point forward, we will look at every account of every event. As the mob comes to arrest Jesus, Peter draws his sword in defense of His Master. In Matthew’s account of these events, He is alone in highlighting a statement made by Jesus to Peter as He commanded him to put away his sword. Jesus reveals that, despite the armed men who have come to take Him, He is in complete control of all things. Just a word and His Father will send an army of angels to His rescue. There is no man and no mob that can forcibly take Jesus’ life from Him. His death is to be completely voluntary. If it is not, then He is not truly a sacrifice. What a sobering thought to understand that, at any point, it was within Jesus’ power to stop the suffering and demonstrate His power and glory. But He did not say that word. He willingly endured all the suffering and allowed Himself to be made a sacrifice for us. What a wonderful Savior!

Why is it important that Jesus’ death was voluntary?


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