WEEK 5 - JESUS IS OUR DESIGNATED SACRIFICE
Day 1 • Read Matthew 27:15-26 and Matthew 27:32-56
Passover is a celebration of the Hebrews' liberation from slavery in Egypt, when God's angel "passed over" the homes of His people who had the blood of a sacrificial lamb on their doorframes, and put to death a member of households of the Egyptians who didn't have a sacrifice covering them. Those covered by the sacrifice received life. Those who were not, received death. This devastating blow to the evil Egyptians prompted the freedom of God's people.
When Jesus became the all-time sacrifice to pay for sin, He covered all of us over all generations of all time - who choose to receive Him. This can feel like a vast covering that is not very personal to you and me. But it is. It is intensely personal, and imperative that each one of us receives this for ourselves. If you think of it, evil Barabbas was the first to benefit from Jesus' sacrifice. He literally was scheduled to die for his crimes, and Jesus took his place. Imagine if Barabbas had said, "Nah, I'm good," and not received the gift that was being offered. That would be crazy!
This Easter season, let the sacrifice of Jesus be personal to you. He covers all your sins, and protects you from the death you deserve! Receive it! Tell Him thank you! Evil is conquered, and you get to live!
- One of our favorite worship songs says, "When hell was my home, you stole my fate." Have you turned your life over to Jesus and let Him switch your destiny from death to life? Today is the day!
- Is there something you carry around ongoing guilt for? Thank Jesus that it was covered by His blood, and you're forgiven!
- Who do you know who needs to hear that they can be forgiven and freed? Tell them your story this week.
Day 2 • Read Matthew 25
No matter how much you love your computer, give it time and inevitably, something will go wrong and you'll discover the magic of Ctrl+Alt+Del. As the computer restarts, it goes into “safe mode." Safe mode is designed to help fix most, if not all, problems with the operating system. Safe mode is designed to be temporary, not a permanent way of operating. But too often, we'll try to live our lives like a computer in safe mode.
That's what happened with the workers in Matthew 25:14-30. Three workers had the choice to either play it safe or make a move. As each was called to stewardship and faithfulness, only two of the workers seized the opportunity to capitalize on the talents given them. As a result, the two workers received a double portion of their investment and were highly praised for their faithfulness. The third worker, however, made the choice to do nothing. This worker decided to play it safe, and he buried his portion. The lazy worker was not only severely rebuked and punished, but the resources given him were also taken away and distributed to one of the faithful workers.
As we anticipate the Lord’s return, let us remain faithful to what God has entrusted in us. As believers, we can either play it safe or we can take action. As we follow Jesus, we should not linger in “safe mode,” but instead, we should move forward in productivity.
- Is there any area of your life where you're operating in safe mode? What is keeping you from taking action?
- We are called to make wise investments with what the Lord has given us. What's one way you can better manage your time, talent, or money to bring glory to God?
Day 3 • Read Matthew 26
When you take a trip to another county, you can’t buy anything without the correct currency. To get the right money, you visit an exchange booth and trade your money for that country's currency according to the exchange rate. Sometimes, you receive more than you gave, and sometimes you get less.
In Matthew 26, we find two instances of people making an exchange. The first is a woman who interrupts a gathering to pour an expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. We find out the price of the perfume was equivalent to one year's income. This woman was willing to give up a year’s pay for the opportunity to worship at Jesus’ feet. The second exchange is made by one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, Judas. Judas was willing to betray Jesus for 30 silver coins.
In these stories, Matthew shows us that one person sacrificed something in life for Jesus while another person sacrificed Jesus for something in life. We have the same choice to make today in our lives. Each day we have the decision to either worship Jesus or betray Him. We can either sacrifice our lives for Jesus, or we can sacrifice Jesus for our lives.
- What is one thing you are tempted to exchange for the full life Jesus promises?
- Do you think we get more or less than we give when we follow Jesus?
Day 4 • Read Matthew 27
Every other Friday, people everywhere rejoice. Why? Because it’s payday! We get a little slip of paper that represents exactly what we’ve earned from the work we’ve done. It’s easy to understand: the wages of work is money.
The Bible also uses the idea of wages. In Romans 6:23, Paul writes that “the wages of sin is death.” That means that sin earns death. But what exactly is sin? Sin is missing the mark, falling short of God's law in our thoughts or actions. Sin isn’t just about what we do or don’t do; it’s also about what’s inside of our hearts. The death that sin earns is both physical and spiritual. Physical death is the end of your body. Spiritual death is an eternal separation from God. Earlier in Romans 3:23, Paul wrote that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Based on the Bible, we know that sin earns death and that we’ve all sinned. But, here’s the good news: God loves us so much He wants to rescue us from our sin! The debt of sin must be paid. In the Old Testament, people paid the debt of their sins with sacrifices. But this method of atonement wasn’t permanent. One sacrifice didn’t cover all of a person’s sins. God wanted to not only erase our debt, but in doing so restore us to a right relationship with Him.
To do this, a sacrifice like no other was required. Jesus' death was significant for many reasons. First, while Jesus faced temptation, He never gave in (Hebrews 4:15). Second, Jesus willingly gave up His life (John 10:18). And third, it provided forgiveness for our sin (1 John 4:10).
- Ask God to reveal to you any sin that is in your life right now. What is one step you can take to help you turn from that sin and pursue righteousness instead?
- Take a moment to thank God for loving us and sacrificing His Son for us. If you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, you can do that today.
Day 5 • Read Matthew 28
We’ve all been asked at some point: “How’d you hear about us?” Maybe it was the new patient paperwork at the doctor's office, a survey after your first trip to a restaurant, or part of the checkout process while ordering online. Chances are the answer to that question is the same: heard about it from a family member or friend. When we are satisfied with a product or service, we want to tell others about it. We want the people we love to experience the good things we experience.
Our relationship with Jesus is no different. Jesus' love, grace, and mercy are the most satisfying things we could ever be offered, and they’re free! Through Jesus, we have hope, joy, and the promise of eternity. There is no better product, service, or offer out there. If we are excited to share tips on sales, food, and physicians, why wouldn't we be bursting at the seams to share the news of salvation with the ones we love?
Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He wanted His disciples to go ahead and tell everybody about His sacrifice and love, but He also reminded them that they aren’t in it alone. Jesus is with us as we go, tell, and make disciples.
- Who do you know who needs to hear about Jesus?
- What is one thing that keeps you from sharing the Gospel with your friends and family as easily as you would share a recipe or favorite store? What can you do to overcome this obstacle?
- One of the best ways to share Jesus with others is through telling your story. What has Jesus done for you? Let someone know today!
Day 6 • Read Matthew 28:1-10
Jesus glared into the eyes of death and said, "Not today!" The resurrection of Jesus is the most powerful news story the world will ever hear. Humor me for a minute. You arrive home from work, make something to eat, and then proceed to sit down to watch your favorite TV show. The words, "We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this breaking news," pops up on the screen followed by, "A man who was buried just three short days ago, came out of the grave and is walking around perfectly healthy. Apparently death couldn't hold this One in the grave!" How could this happen? More importantly, WHY?
Death couldn't hold Jesus because Jesus NEVER sinned! Jesus had nothing of Himself to suffer for. He was perfect, holy, blameless, and sinless. His personal death wasn't for Him; it was for us! He died as a payment for our sins. But wait, there's more! Jesus rose from the grave for us, too! The reason we have hope beyond this life is because we will raise from the dead just as Jesus did. He is our eternal hope. We WILL BE resurrected and live forever with Him!
- What is holding you down today?
- Do you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?
- Do you understand that you have been forgiven?
- Take a minute and give thanks for all that Jesus has done to be sure you will spend eternity with Him.
Day 7 • Read Matthew 28:16-20
Ever watched a relay race? One runner passes the baton off to another runner who carries the baton to the next runner until the race is won. This is what Jesus does in Matthew 28. He ran His race, sacrificed Himself for our sins, rose from the dead, and then passed off the baton to us to carry His message to the nations.
The gospel spreads as we run our race and carry the baton to those around us. Jesus did not just die for us, but also for every life on earth. He wants us to make disciples. We do this by telling our family and friends about the good news of God‘s grace and mercy and love and sacrifice.
- Who will you share Jesus with today?
- Who will you point to the Savior at work or school?
- What If you made a choice to go to sleep today until you have talked with one person about the goodness of God and His grace for their life?
Some of these devotionals were used with permission and courtesy of NewSpring Church, South Carolina.