Saturday (March 24): Gospel Reading:
40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? 48 Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” 50 Nicode’mus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” 53 They went each to his own house.
Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20
The LORD made it known to me and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds. 19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.” 20 But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, who tries the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.
Meditation: When resistance and opposition to God’s word rears it head how do you respond? With fear and doubt? Or with faith and courage? The prophet Jeremiah was opposed by his own people because the words he spoke in God’s name did not sit right with them. They plotted to silence him and to “cut him off from the land of the living” (Jeremiah 11:19). Jeremiah responded with meekness and prophetic insight “like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:18).
No one could be indifferent for long when confronted with Jesus and his message. It caused division for many in Israel. Some believed he was a prophet, some the Messiah, and some believed he was neither. The reaction of the officers was bewildered amazement. They went to arrest him and returned empty-handed because they never heard anyone speak as he did. The reaction of the chief priests and Pharisees was contempt. The reaction of Nicodemus was timid. His heart told him to defend Jesus, but his head told him not to take the risk.
Who is Jesus for you? And are you ready to give him your full allegiance? There will often come a time when we have to take a stand for Christ and for the gospel. To stand for Jesus may provoke mockery or unpopularity. It may even entail hardship, sacrifice, and suffering. There are fundamentally two choices we must choose between: to have our lives fueled by God’s selfless love for others or by our own self-centered love and selfish desires, to be loyal to God’s wise rule and kingdom laws or to the standards of a worldly kingdom opposed to God, to be servants of Jesus our Master or slaves of sin and Satan. Are you ready to stand for Jesus and to show him honor and loyalty whatever it may cost you?
“Lord Jesus, your gospel brings joy and freedom. May I be loyal to you always, even though it produce a cross on earth, that I may share in your crown in eternity”.
1 O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they rend me, dragging me away, with none to rescue.
3 O LORD my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have requited my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue me and overtake me, and let him trample my life to the ground, and lay my soul in the dust. [Selah]
6 Arise, O LORD, in your anger, lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; and over it take your seat on high.
8 The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who try the minds and hearts, righteous God.
10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day.
12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and strung his bow;