Holy Mystery Advent Devotional

Day 25 

Day 25


“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28‬:‭18‬-‭20‬ ‭ESV‬‬


As we come to the close of this Advent season, I have one final mystery for us to delve into.


He ascended.


But surely He is with us.


Of all the mysteries and all the truths that we have wrestled through, nothing compares to the reality of His presence in our lives. At the incarnation, He came to us in a way that mankind had not experienced with our Creator since the Garden of Eden. When He ascended into the clouds, He promised His followers that He would be with us, even “to the end of the age.”


To the very end.


Through every trial. Through every difficult season that doesn’t seem to end. Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t have anything to fear because He is with us.


Have you realized this truth in your life. Do you know Him? We could have a deep theological understanding of every mystery in scripture, but we’ll miss the point if we don’t know Him. Have you come to the same transformative revelation of the person of Jesus that the thief came to moments before His death? Have you known Him, but allowed the troubles and trials of life to shove Him into a couple hours of your week on Sundays mornings and maybe a weekday night? Does your heart long to know Him or are you satisfied with knowing of Him.


He is the Holy Mystery; foretold in scripture and revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God.


I implore you. Know Him.


There is no greater thing you could do in your life.

Day 24 

Day 24


“One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭23‬:‭39‬-‭43‬ ‭ESV‬‬


The penitent thief.


I’ve seen many friends post his story over the years with some form of a commentary about how the apparent salvation of this thief could pose a challenge to what some Christians believe about how a person is saved. This thief had no good deeds to validate his conversion, no “fruits” to show that he had truly turned from his sinful lifestyle. The thief hadn’t even been baptized and yet, according to Jesus, entered into paradise on the direct invitation of the King of Kings. It’s a legitimate quandary for anyone who adds even an iota to the concept of saved by grace through faith, but it’s hard to find many who would deny that salvation is anything but a free gift outright. For most, the difficulty lies in the definitions of terms and two questions: What does it mean to believe and can a person believe without repentance. To answer these, let’s look back at the thief starting by looking at what the thief believed.


The first response we hear from the 2nd thief is astounding considering who he was and where he was at. A thief, likely an especially heinous criminal or revolutionary of some kind considering the fact that he was receiving the highest form of capital punishment, moments from death and he is stricken with something that has befallen the hearts of countless men and woman staring down their own demise; the fear of God.


“But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?’”


This utterance, alone is not necessarily a profession of faith in Jesus. Simply recognizing you are guilty and worthy of the punishment you are receiving is nice, but not necessarily life changing. Recognizing that you are guilty before God is definitely a further step in the right direction, but acknowledging your sin leads some to put their hope for salvation in their own works to balance out their misdeeds rather than see the futility of their striving and look for a savior.


The thief could have been just one among the countless number of lost, trusting in their own goodness to save them in the end, but remember where he was - hanging on a cross. At this point, there are no more options, no more opportunities to make amends. But, he has heard the stories about this man next to him. He witnessed the crown of thorns being placed on his head and saw the sign reading, “Jesus, the Nazarene. King of the Jews.” He had heard the incomprehensible grace as the nails were driven through His hands and feet and yet He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” As all of this unfolded before him, at some point it struck him and he realized, “This man is the messiah. This man is the Son of God!” This could all be speculative except for what the thief says next.


“‘And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’”


The thief has made some pretty huge theological claims in the matter of just a few lines. First, he says that Jesus had done nothing wrong. That wouldn’t seem too heavy of a claim, but remember what Jesus was being crucified for; His crime was blasphemy.


“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.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭14‬:‭61‬-‭64‬ ‭ESV‬‬


When the Jewish thief says that Jesus was sinless in the charge of blasphemy, that means that he believed Jesus had to be who He claimed to be. Secondly, he appealed to Jesus as not only the king of the Jews, but also the King and Lord of the next life. “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” That was a pretty massive statement, especially considering that the Sadducees didn’t even believe in resurrection or an afterlife. And the words, “Remember me.” This was not a plea of, “when You’re sitting on Your throne, think back on me fondly.” He was pleading his case before His judge. He knew that very soon he would be standing before Jesus, not as the man, but as the Judge of his eternal destination and begging for mercy when that time came. In just a few sentences, the thief has covered more theological ground than many preachers do in a Sunday sermon! Clearly, the thief believed, but did the thief repent?


If repentance means do works to prove your saved, then he didn’t really have the opportunity for that, but is that how scripture defines repentance?


““Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭26‬:‭19‬-‭20‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Did you catch that? Repentance precedes works. So, logically, if repentance comes before works and works are the fruit of repentance, then repentance itself cannot be a work. To repent means to change one’s mind or for your thinking to be transformed. Up to the very last moments of his life, the thief had thought, or more directly believed, one way about his life and eternity and, upon seeing Jesus, realized he was wrong and this Man hanging next to him was the only way to be made right.


That is it.


That is repentance.


There is obviously much more depth and richness to that realization, but this is the fundamental shift that occurs moving from unbelief to belief. This is the belief that saves. This is the belief that Abraham, Moses, David and all of the faithful in the Old Testament were saved by even though they didn’t know the name of Jesus or what He would do on their behalf. They didn’t have to have a fully fleshed out understanding of the coming incarnation or crucifixion, but they knew that they were not holy, that God is, and in His goodness, He would make a way for them somehow. This belief, this repentance, is a the kind that will most definitely produce fruit over the proper time as the Holy Spirit works in a person’s heart and begins the process of sanctification in their life. That fruit, by the way, is grown on His time table and in the order that He predetermined is best for their  greatest good and His eternal glory.


We are saved by grace through faith we believe in Jesus as the sole source of our salvation. When we realize that we cannot save ourselves and only He can, this is true repentance.

Day 23 

Day 23


“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.””

‭‭Daniel‬ ‭3‬:‭24‬-‭25‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Immanuel. We know that the word means “God with us.” The story of the three young Jewish men in the fiery furnace is a very tangible example of what that means. Again, another Christophany where the preincarnate Jesus is seen not only by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but by King Nebuchadnezzar, as well.


Babylon, in scripture, is consistently the root of so much evil and wickedness throughout both the Old and New Testaments. From the very beginning, the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11) was a demonically inspired affront to the sovereignty and Lordship of God on the earth and the final fall of Babylon the great is recorded Revelation chapters 17 and 18. Sandwiched somewhere in the middle of Babylon’s rise and fall is Israel’s exile, a period of time when nearly 5,000 Jews were taken into captivity and servitude of this nation which, from beginning to end, represented rebellion against the one true God.


The events which preceded the appearance of Jesus in the furnace are well known, also. The king had erected a 90 foot golden statue and then commanded all of his officials to bow down and worship it. The 3 Jews would not bow before anyone except the Lord, which enraged the king and caused him to have them thrown into the fiery furnace. But, here is the part of the story that I love so much. Most of the time I heard about these events, I heard the focus being put on the incredible faith of the 3 as depicted in verses 16 and 17.


“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.”

‭‭Daniel‬ ‭3‬:‭16‬-‭17‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Their faith and resolve was rewarded by the Lord when He rescued them from death and stood with them in the fire. That’s a good story. That’s the kind of story that inspires people to draw their own lines in the sand, standing in faith and knowing that because of their faith, God is going to come through for them and give them what they expect. That is the kind of faith that even a pagan king would recognize and it is not a bad thing, but it is also not complete. You see, the gods of the pagan nations were not just stone and wood and metal. Those were the images that they would sometimes inhabit, but there were real spirits, Elohim, who had been given spiritual dominion over geographical regions and would sometimes respond favorably when they were worshiped. (For reference, compare the Genesis 11 account after Babel to Deuteronomy’s description of that same event found in chapter 32, verses 7-9.) Of course, bowing down in front of their statues was on the lighter side of the kinds of worship they demanded, which included human and particularly child sacrifice.


In these pagan kingdoms and nations, it wasn’t just that they attributed prosperity, sickness, weather and produce as coming from their gods, their gods did actually respond to them with shows of supernatural power. This is what makes the triumphal appearance of Jesus with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego inside of the fiery furnace so profoundly astonishing to the Babylonian king. This was the inaugural worship ceremony of this new idol and it was believed that the spirit they were worshiping would enter into the idol and inhabit it at this time. This is what made the refusal of the 3 young Jews so infuriating; they could cause the Elohim to not enter the idol or, worse yet, bring the wrath of the spirit on the people, not to mention the shame and disrespect shown to the king. Sacrificing the 3 troublemakers in response to their insolence was the obvious choice to try to keep these consequences at bay. And then, Jesus appears!


Rather than being consumed by the flames that had risen to such an extreme level of heat that the guards ordered to throw them into the furnace died themselves, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were alive, unbound, walking among the flames and joined by a fourth man who the king identified as having the appearance of the “son of the gods.” This preincarnate appearance of Christ not only provided salvation from death for the 3, but put both the Babylonian king and the demonic gods he served on full notice, there is only one Most High, and you ain’t it.


Some of you may question whether these spirits, these Elohim, are still around and active today. Do they still have the same dominion and authority they held over the nations before the first coming of Christ? Many Bible believing Christians debate those questions and even how we should interpret these beings in scripture. Were they truly fallen angels or just human priests or princes who forsook their God-ordained positions of authority and responsibility in favor of elevating their own position? To me, it is clear in the world around us that, people are still worshipping these pagan deities. As paganism, Odinism and worship of the Ancient Greek, Egyptian and native tribal gods is starting to become more popular, are we also not seeing a rise in debauchery, perversion and people fighting for their right to kill their children under the guise of religious freedom as a Satanic ritual? (A tactic recently celebrated by the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan - https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a45613416/satanic-group-abortion-clinic-samuel-alito-mom/)


The difference today is not that these demons are gone, but that the Church is here. The Spirit of the Living God resides inside of each of us who is called by His name and bought by His blood. The same power that resurrected Christ from the grave lives inside of us! And the same Christ that put to shame the Babylonian king and his gods has given us the mandate to bring the Gospel to the nations that all dominion, all power and all glory is His, forever and ever.



Day 22 

Day 22


“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.””

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭32‬:‭24‬-‭30‬ ‭ESV‬‬


You and I may have a few questions.


Why are we reading in Genesis if we’re supposed to be talking about the incarnation of Jesus?

Why did God, as a man, show up and physically wrestle with Jacob all night long?

What is the point?


This little snippet found in the first book of the Bible has always been so interesting to me. Probably, in no small part, because wrestling was/is my favorite sport. I’m not a “team sports” guy. I mean, I’ll play a pickup game of basketball or baseball or whatever, but the one-on-one challenge of combat, pitting yourself against one other person with a clear goal and no excuses… that, to me, is fun. Even so, the idea of heading out into the wilderness and lock into a grapple with God incarnate is a little daunting. Which brings us to the first question: Why are we reading in Genesis if we’re supposed to be talking about the incarnation of Jesus? This is one of those Holy Mysteries; the old covenant appearances of the physical embodiment of God.


When God appears as a man in the Old Testament; to Abraham (Gen. 18,) to Joshua (Josh. 5,) to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Dan. 3,) and others, this is a preincarnate appearance of Jesus, called by Bible scholars as a Christophany. In most of these instances, God is appearing in the form of a man and speaking to people. This situation is unique as God, preincarnate Jesus, doesn’t just speak to Jacob but actually comes out of nowhere and starts an all night wrestling competition with him.




I also find it interesting how we are not given any insight into the mind of God in this situation. The outcome of the Lord blessing Jacob could have come in a much more direct manner. Also, it is evident that He could have ended the match at any moment if He could put Jacob’s hip out of socket with just a touch. Apparently God knew what Jacob needed, and this was the divinely appointed way of giving it to him. The wrestling match, the hip out of socket, the blessing and change of name; this was all intended by God. Why? We’re not given any reasoning ahead of the altercation, but we can work backwards to understand; using the ends to clarify the means.


Before Jacob’s interaction with Jesus, he was one way. When he left with a blessing and a new name, he was quite literally a different person. Jacob became Israel and from him an entire nation was descended - a nation that persists to this day! From his line not only would we see the nation of Israel, but the line of Judah, which led to the line of David, which led to Christ, Himself, and through Christ, all nations will be grafted into the family of God.


So, what was the point.


Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what the direct application is. There are principles and wisdom that we can glean from the very first wrestlemania, but we have to remember that we are not Jacob. We are not David. We are not Moses. These were real human beings who had real experiences with the real God of all creation. We can learn things from their lives, but their lives were not primarily for our educational benefit or to be the avatars of ourselves into the Biblical text. There probably isn’t another person ever who is going to have a literal wrestling match with God… this side of eternity, at least! But every one of us must reckon with the truth of the Gospel and put ourselves under submission to Him. We are all going to go through seasons when we feel like we are wrestling, spiritually, with God and we just don’t know all of the “why’s.”


What we can certainly take from Jacob’s strange battle is that, regardless of what we are experiencing, God does have His perfect reasoning which will ultimately end in blessing for each of us who is called according to His purpose.


And, His purposes stretch far beyond anything we could ever imagine!

Day 21 

Day 21


“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭14‬ ‭ESV‬‬


How does our Creator see us?


There is a significant difference between how we view ourselves, how we experience life, and how Jesus did. While it’s clear that during the time of His incarnation on the earth there were some things known to the Father which were veiled to Him for a time, He did still have knowledge about who He was, what His mission on the earth was and things that would happen to Him. For Jesus, the cross, and all of the pain and rejection that came with it, was always set before Him.


With that knowledge came knowing who would reject Him, who would betray Him, who would soon be yelling crucify Him! How would you treat someone that you knew was only hanging around for a free meal? How would you have treated the trusted friend who stabbed you in the back if you had known about it before it happened? Jesus knew these things. He knew what they would all do. And when He saw them in pain, in sickness, in bondage, He was moved with compassion.


God’s wrath is real, but it is not human wrath. He doesn’t punish us because we hurt His feelings. We incur His wrath rightfully through our repeated rebellions. The fact that we find the concept of God’s wrath offensive proves that we don’t understand how truly rebellious we are. We are like the child who gets angry that we are in trouble saying, “Well, he shouldn’t have been in my way!” even after the kid we just shoved is lying crying and bleeding on the pavement. That, times infinity, because the one we are shoving, spitting on, rejecting and abusing is Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. And God, seeing how we would treat Him, knowing the choices we would make before we even existed to be able to make them, looked at us in our sin, in our anger, in our rejection, in our rebellion, and was moved with compassion.


“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭6‬-‭11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Day 20 

Day 20

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.””

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭5‬:‭1‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬


He is worthy…because He was slain.


Victory in seeming defeat. A death which shook the kingdom of darkness from its very foundations and ushered in a new covenant between the kingdom of heaven and the people of earth.


The ministry of Jesus while He walked on the earth was far more monumental than even the most profound of theologians could comprehend. We throw around terms like, “Jesus died for my sins,” or “He died so we could go to heaven” and have no clue how much weight those statements carry. We have no idea what it meant for the supernatural to step into the natural, for the Divine to take on mortal flesh, for He who knew no sin to become sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. We. Don’t. Get. It.


But even beyond all of that, there is still the matter of dominion. There are some strange passages in the Bible. Weird verses talking about principalities, powers and world rulers in this present darkness. Verses about territorial gods (little “g”) who wield supernatural influence, control and authority which manipulates events in the natural world. These are the fallen host, disgraced princes of heaven who have forsaken their rightful positions in order to wage an unseen war against the Most High. When Jesus came, He had business with them, too.


This all may sound like some pagan mythology or pseudo-Christian mumbo jumbo, but if that were so, how are we to interpret the offer the devil made to Jesus in the wilderness?


“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬



Notice, Jesus did not laugh and say, “Those aren’t yours to give!” There is nothing in the passage to indicate that this deal was outside of the devil’s ability to make. All the nations would be His and He wouldn’t have to die. But, the Creator cannot bow down before the created. The Almighty is infinitely humble but never humiliated. The devil could offer this to Jesus in vain foolishness, but Jesus knew how the story would end. There is a kind of death that the demonic horde fear, the kind that brings their judgement upon them and casts them into the abyss.


“Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭8‬:‭30‬-‭31‬ ‭ESV‬‬


These rebellious spirits dread the future judgement waiting for them. The devil looked for every opportunity to steal the right to judge away from the Son of Man, and when he failed to sully Him, he entered Judas and had the Jewish leaders crucify Him. But, it was exactly this death that became the undoing of all of the schemes of Satan.


He is worthy…because He was slain.

Day 19 

Day 19


“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.””

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭5‬:‭1‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Who is worthy?


The book of revelation is possibly one of the most challenging and most debated books in the whole of scripture. It also happens to be one of my favorite. My understanding of the book has shifted and grown over the years as my perspective grew from what I had been told that it meant, to the point where I began to read it in broken parts and trying to make sense of the interpretations I had been given, to a more sober minded and wholistic approach, reading it as one letter with a coherent message and intended to be heard, read and understood.


To me, Revelation, is another glimpse into the unimaginable complexity and yet, utter simplicity that is the nature of our God. He is so far beyond our understanding that we can’t begin to produce an accurate description that would not fall laughably short of our subject. On the other hand, He chooses to reveal all that we need to know about Him in order to not only come to salvation but to call this ultimate Being, this Alpha and Omega, “friend.”


But, when we look at the current state of His creation, it is evident that something is just not right.


We see rampant and unrepentant sin celebrated and propagated in every corner of society. We see the wicked appearing to prosper and the righteous left in want. We see truth being silenced and ridiculed while lies and deception not only being spread but readily accepted like dogs waiting for scraps and shards to fall from the table. We are told that disagreeing words are violence while babies being butchered both in the womb in the western world and outside of the womb in the Middle East, is hailed as reproductive rights and warranted casualties of battle. The earth is stained in blood and it’s as if you can feel the rocks preparing to break out in their own cries for justice. The heart cry of so many believers around the world is beginning to ring out in unison, “Maratha! Come, Lord Jesus!”


But, the only One who can right what is wronged, the only One who can make the crooked line straight and bring justice to the world is the same One who judges us. We each view the world through the individual lenses of our own experiences and all of the wrong out there. We sit in the judgement seat and see the fault all around us, AND THERE IS SO MUCH OF IT, but we cannot be the ones to make it right. Who is worthy? Our spirits cry out for a judgement that our flesh will not be able to stand under. Even the unbelieving world is crying out for justice, but not realizing or flat out ignoring their own acts of complicity and outright rebellion. Who is worthy?


There is One. One who is worthy to open the scroll. One who makes it possible for us to come underneath His covering so as not to be subject to the wrath that we have earned. John, the revelator, saw this One; the Lion or Judah. The Lamb, standing as though it had been slain. Just as it was told to John, when your heart is made low by the troubles and trials of this world, when you weep for the sin-blinded world that your children will have to grow up in: “Weep no more.”


He is coming.

Day 18 

“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?”” 

Matthew 26:63-68 ESV (Psalm 2:1–12, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, Acts 4:25–28, Acts 13:33, Hebrews 1:5, Hebrews 5:5) 

The Son of God. 


Just sit in the weight of that title. 

We are so irreverent in our culture; in our humanity. We were made in the image of God and yet so often we cast God in the image of man. We would like to think that we are wise. We point to our technology and our accomplishments, but we forget that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. Where is our fear? 

This isn’t even the main point of today’s devotional. I just can’t simply read the passage above and not be taken back by the arrogance of man in the face of God and not be reminded of my own sinful pride. 

The Son of God. 

One thing we have to understand is that “Son of God” is a title, an identifier of which Person of the Trinity that we are talking about, not a reference to some sort of eternity past birthing event. 

In the ancient Jewish culture, the adult son had the full legal weight of his father to buy, sell and make deals and transactions in his father’s name. The son carried the authority of the father and it was assumed that whatever he said was coming from and on behalf of the father. In carrying the title “the Son of God,” Jesus was saying that the authority by which He spoke was from the authority of God. It wasn’t, “I’m the Son of God, so if you don’t listen to me, I’ll tell my daddy.” It was, “Everything I say and do has the full weight of the words of God.” 

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” 

‭‭John‬ ‭5‬:‭19‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

“Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” 

‭‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

This is a convicting truth for those who wish to unhitch from the Old Testament or who believe that Jesus is somehow saying anything different or inconsistent with the message of God throughout the first 39 books of the Bible. Jesus has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it to completion. He is the image of the invisible.

Day 17 

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”” 

Matthew 21:12-13 ESV 

It is so interesting to me that the first thing Jesus did after His triumphal entry in Jerusalem was to cleanse the Temple. This was actually not the first time that He had done something like this. Another, separate instance of Jesus cleansing the temple in this way is recorded earlier in Jesus’ ministry in John 2. At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and immediately following His triumphal entry, days before His crucifixion, He made a very public point of casting out those who had turned the house of the Lord into a den of thieves. 

These pictures of Jesus tend to clash with the “Jesus, meek and mild” that many of think about. Jesus, in His time on Earth, was an extremely polarizing figure to the outside world as well as to the religious leaders. Today, Jesus is still equally as polarizing. The problem many of us make is that we want to focus on the parts of Jesus that we like while ignoring the parts that make us uncomfortable. Some people don’t like “their Jesus” to turn tables, confront sin or speak of judgement. I’ve seen others use the first instance of Jesus cleansing the temple, the time when He fashioned a whip to drive the people out, as a green light for them to own guns and “own” their political rivals on social media. (That is not a statement for or against owning guns or engaging in politics, but pointing out that that is not what that passage is about!) 

To be clear, Jesus is not “on” any of our sides. What we need to be heavily concerned with is, are we on His. Are His priorities our priorities? Jesus came in peace to Jerusalem and then started flipping tables in the temple. That is what happened. That should give us an idea of what peace with God looks like. There was plenty of corruption in the city. Ample opportunities for Jesus to upend the power structures, right various wrongs and set the record straight. While, over the next week He did confront the religious leaders and legal authorities, His mission was clear from the moment He stepped into the temple. 

There is an important truth that we need to understand and make sure we get grammatically correct; The Gospel will affect every area of our lives but the Gospel is not about every area of our lives. The Gospel is about Jesus. His mission was to reconcile us to Himself; to create peace between us and God. When Jesus cleansed the temple, He was proclaiming a very clear statement that “this” is what it was all about. The temple was overrun with greed and corruption as people used the law as a means of extorting people trying to offer their sacrifices. Their sin became an obstacle, a hinderance that kept people from being able to be made right with God. The temple was the old covenant house of the Lord, but all of this was a foreshadowing of a greater reality that Jesus was ushering in. Jesus was zealous for the house of the Lord. (Psalm 69) He drove out the thieves who preyed on the people trying to worship God. In the new covenant, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19) Jesus violently paid for our sins so that we can have a redeemed relationship with God, worshiping Him for all of eternity. 

This was His mission, from the very beginning. Are we about what He is about or are we co-opting the aspects of Jesus that we like in order to fit Him into our way of living? May Jesus purifiy the temples of our hearts and remind us that it is all about Him.

Day 16 

16 - “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”” 

Matthew 21:1-11 ESV 

“Jesus was so humble that He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem by riding on a donkey!” 

Jesus is absolutely the most humble person to ever walk the face of the earth. That’s not in question. HOWEVER... His riding into the city on the back of a donkey is not actually representative – only – of His humility. Think about the rest of the scene – Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Does this processional sound like a particularly humble affair? Not really. In fact, it sounds a lot more like the entrances of the Ceasar’s when they would have entire parades as all of Rome ushered their ruler back from foreign wars. Those scenes were so NOT humble that there were literally men in the processional whose sole job it was to walk beside the emperor and cry, “Memento Mori” or “Remember your death” so the whole thing wouldn’t go to the Ceasar’s head. 

Rather than being simply a declaration His humility, Jesus riding in on the back of a donkey was actually a declaration of both His royalty and His Messianic authority. Ancient Kings and dignitaries would enter the city gates similar to this frequently, but they would ride either horses or donkeys. If the leader was riding on a horse, it signaled to the people that he was on a militaristic conquest – that he was coming because he had conquered and was establishing his rule or that he was coming with the intent to conquer. However, if the leader was riding on a donkey, this signified that his entrance was done in peace and civility. Seeing either type of entrance, the people would instantly know what the intentions of the entering king were. By riding in on a donkey, Jesus was telling everyone that He was, in fact, the royal authority but that He had come to bring peace. He was inspiring people to come to Him safely rather than recoil from Him in fear. 

His Messianic claim was evident to the Jews as His entrance was also in direct reference to and fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9. Not only was He saying that He was a king, but that He was The King; the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior they had been looking for! The people clearly understood this because of how they responded to His arrival. They were jubilantly praising God for the coming of their Savior King. Can you imagine the hope and joy that they were feeling in that moment? Jesus had come to bring peace, but it was not the peace they expected. They were looking for a Jewish Messiah who would overthrow the Roman occupation and make them great again. Instead, they were welcoming a King who, in just a few short days, they would be shouting to crucify. And He let them. He wasn’t the King that they wanted so they wanted Him dead. But, the crazy thing is, that was exactly the peace that He came to bring them and to us – an everlasting peace with God that could only come by His atoning sacrificial death. He came to bring us peace and, by His death, He did! 

When He entered Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was humbly riding on a donkey as the King who had come to bring peace. Soon, Jesus will return again and when He does He will be coming on the clouds, riding a white horse and armed for battle – a conquering King, coming to conquer once and for all.