Flashback Episode — Rewarding the Hospitable: Luke 24:13-34

Read the Transcript

Following Jesus’ resurrection, there was a little bit of chaos – at least at first. Out of this confusion over whether Jesus had truly been raised from the dead, we find an amazing event that Luke includes in detail in his gospel record. This event includes two of Jesus’ followers, one who is not named, and another who only is included once in the entire New Testament, at least by this name. Some scholars speculate that the disciple who is named in this event is also the same one that is found in another event that John’s gospel includes, but this is speculation based on the names being very similar.

Our event is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 24, and we will be reading from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 13, Luke tells us that later on during the day that Jesus was resurrected, two of Jesus’ followers:

13 [And behold, two of them] were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. 17 And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. 22 But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” 25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Let’s pause reading briefly here for a moment because I wish that Luke could have included the breakdown in detail that Jesus gave to these two followers. While I imagine that most of what Jesus shares is included in what we could call the gospel side-notes where we are told some specific action or event fulfilled a prophecy, it would have been incredible to hear Jesus explain His own life and mission using prophecy, first-hand and without holding anything back.

It’s also worth noting that aside from the women who had seen some angels, and Mary Magdalene who John’s gospel tells us stayed behind and thought Jesus was a gardener at first, it seems like these two less famous disciples were the second and third to see a resurrected Jesus. In many ways, the trip these two disciples take with the resurrected Messiah was more profound than Mary’s short conversation.

Continuing our reading in verse 28, Luke tells us that as:

28 [And] they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. 29 But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.”

Part of me wondered if the unnamed disciple in this passage was one of Jesus’ eleven remaining disciples, but when we look closely at Luke’s description of what these disciples find after they had raced back to Jerusalem, they find the eleven and a number of other followers with them. This makes it sound like neither one of these two followers was part of Jesus’ eleven remaining closest followers.

What was a trip that took hours for these men going away from Jerusalem could be measured in minutes as they raced back to the city. But while everything in this event is powerful and profound, one subtle theme stands out in my mind regarding the character of these two followers of Jesus: these two disciples are rewarded the greatest because they displayed hospitality towards a stranger.

If it had not been for Jesus acting like He was going to keep going, and had these disciples not insisted that this stranger come spend the night at their place before continuing on, these two followers would not have known that Jesus was the One who explained the scripture to them. If these two disciples had let Jesus continue on the road without pressing Him to stay with them, they probably would not have made the trip back to Jerusalem that night. Perhaps the next day they would have returned with the good news and explanation that a stranger gave them, but it wouldn’t have been that night.

Also interesting is that these two disciples never once imply or suggest to go back on the road to Jerusalem with their stranger-friend – or at least Luke never implies that this happened. Part of me wonders if these two followers were so amazed at what they were learning from their Companion’s explanation of prophecy that they simply didn’t think of asking their fellow Traveler to return to Jerusalem and share what He was sharing with them to the other disciples. They may have just thought or concluded that they would bring the news and information to the rest of the disciples.

But regardless of what happened, hospitality towards a stranger led to these two disciples’ eyes being opened, and they, similar to Mary who didn’t recognize Jesus at first, experience the amazement of realizing they had been talking directly to Jesus.

Living 2000 years later, I find myself being less hospitable than these two disciples are. It is not that I wouldn’t be hospitable if I could, but culture, life, and travel are significantly different now than it was then, and even picking up a hitch-hiker is not all that common any more like it was even several decades ago. But I also wonder if the way our culture has shifted has led to many of us, myself included, missing out on God directed meetings because we are too busy, too distracted, and/or too narrowly focused in on the demands of the moment to pay attention to what God wants to share with us.

So as we come to the close of another podcast episode, let’s focus our end-of-this-podcast challenges on this theme and topic:

Be sure to seek God first and be open to His leading in your life. On the topic of being hospitable towards others, look for people who God brings into your life who need help, need encouragement, or perhaps simply need a friend. As we seek God first, let’s be sure to intentionally be open to God redirecting our path and plans to allow for meetings that He wants us to have. This challenge is really aimed at me because is one of those challenges that is harder for me as a shy introverted guy than it is for someone like my wife who can make a friendship out of thin air.

Also, be sure to prayerfully study the Bible for yourself in order to grow closer to God and build a stronger relationship with Him. With a strong, close relationship with God, we will be more likely to recognize the ways He wants to redirect us and the more likely we will have the God-inspired conversation that He wants us to have.

And as I always end each set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 49: Cam discusses the trip two of Jesus’ lesser famous disciples make to a small town not far from Jerusalem, and the conversation He has with these two men about His mission to the world.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Saving Easter While Validating a Gift: John 19:38-42

Read the Transcript

Following Jesus’ death, the gospel of John records the reappearance of a secret disciple, and the introduction of a new secret disciple. These two wealthy men have exactly what is needed for this weekend. While it might not seem like it on the surface, these two men actually save the Easter story because they give everyone involved, including the remaining disciples, the women who followed Jesus, the religious leaders, and even the Roman soldiers exactly what they need for the following 48 hours.

While it is unlikely that Joseph of Arimathea believed his gift would only be temporarily needed, that is ultimately what happened.

Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 19, and we will be reading it from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 38, John tells us that:

38 Joseph from Arimathea was one of Jesus’ disciples. He had kept it secret though, because he was afraid of the Jewish leaders. But now he asked Pilate to let him have Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission, and Joseph took it down from the cross.

39 Nicodemus also came with about seventy-five pounds of spices made from myrrh and aloes. This was the same Nicodemus who had visited Jesus one night. 40 The two men wrapped the body in a linen cloth, together with the spices, which was how the Jewish people buried their dead. 41 In the place where Jesus had been nailed to a cross, there was a garden with a tomb that had never been used. 42 The tomb was nearby, and since it was the time to prepare for the Sabbath, they were in a hurry to put Jesus’ body there.

From our passage, we discover a number of details that are worth paying attention to. In culture, there is a rumor that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross. Regardless of all the reasons that say He did, such as from blood loss, suffocation, and a spear through His heart, not to mention the fact that trained executioners were in charge of the whole scene, our passage describes even more reasons to believe Jesus had died, and our passage gives us reasons to thank these two men.

When we look at what happened normally following the death of a crucified person, the body would be typically be thrown in a large grave, or it would be tossed in the trash heap to be burned. Unless someone stepped in wanting the body, what happened to the body would quickly become untraceable. By stepping up and asking for Jesus’ body, Joseph of Arimathea gave everyone involved a location to pay attention to.

If Jesus’ corpse was thrown into a large hole with many dead bodies, no one could verify whether He had returned to life or not. The rumors would be harder to verify, or validate. Everyone from the disciples and the women to the religious leaders and even the soldiers needed a place to watch and a location to pay attention to, and Joseph from Arimathea stepped up with the perfect gift at the perfect time.

Not only does Joseph bring the perfect gift, Nicodemus also brings the perfect gift: seventy-five pounds of spices. The two men take Jesus and wrap him up in cloth with these spices, and lay His body in the tomb. The spices were intended to mask the odor of a body decomposing. While some people believe Jesus was simply unconscious during this time, He likely would have suffocated from lack of oxygen if He had been alive. With seventy-five pounds of spices wrapped tightly against your body, with no air hole, not only would the spices on top of you make it difficult for you to inhale, and on the off chance that you could inhale, it would be inhaling spices not air.

Since the passage says these men were in a hurry because the Sabbath was near, would it be possible for them to make a mistake? Sure, but any mistake they might have made would likely make it more difficult for Jesus rather than easier for Him.

Every detail in the death of Jesus points to those present believing Jesus was actually dead, and treating Jesus’ body as not returning to life. From the crucifixion performed by trained executioners, to the hasty but effective preparation of Jesus’ body, and even to the rumor that gets spread following Jesus’ resurrection that the disciples simply stole the body, no one at the time expected Jesus to return to life.

We can thank Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for their gifts which were exactly what was needed to solidify a fully dead Jesus. Jesus was actually dead, and as we will look at in the next episode, Jesus returns very much back to life.

Also, when we look at the details of how this passage ends, we discover a fascinating detail many people don’t notice on the surface. The last verse we read, which was verse 42, tells us that “The tomb was nearby, and since it was the time to prepare for the Sabbath, they were in a hurry to put Jesus’ body there.

On the surface, nothing seems abnormal in this verse, but when we look a little closer, we discover something amazing: Following Jesus completing the work of redemption, He rests on the Sabbath. This echoes what we read about following the creation of the world in Genesis when God rests after completing the work of creation.

While some people might see this as being two bookends on Sabbath observance, in my own mind and my own study, this event speaks more strongly towards Jesus validating the Sabbath during the break in His life. If Jesus’ death marked the end of the commandments, then there would be no reason for Him to rest over the Sabbath. Because Jesus rested in peace on the Sabbath, we discover an amazing validation and parallel to God resting following creation.

The Sabbath is first given as a special gift in a perfect world, and we can see Sabbath being present in a perfectly recreated world as Isaiah describes at the close of his book. Because Sabbath is present in both perfect creations, resting on the Sabbath is not connected to sin or our salvation out of sin, but it is foundationally connected with God’s creation honoring God. If God’s perfect creation honors Him in the perfect first world and in the perfect recreated world, God’s people should be honoring Him on the Sabbath in the fallen world as well. The Sabbath was given as a specific day, and Jesus validated the Sabbath day by marking it with rest following His successful completion of the work of salvation.

While this idea is not popular today, the seventh-day Sabbath is an amazing theme that runs through the entire Bible, and this day doesn’t become less significant as history speeds towards its end, it actually becomes more significant.

While I rarely do this, if you haven’t studied the Sabbath out for yourself and you want to read everything the Bible has to say on this topic, the “Day of Rest” study available on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com is for you. This study package might be too comprehensive, because not only do I bring together all the places the Bible teaches us about the Sabbath, I also bring every reference to the seventh-day that is included. When this study moves into the New Testament, we look at every occurrence of not only the Sabbath, but also the first day of the week, and we let the Bible define for us what the Lord’s Day represents. While other study tools might be faster, none are more comprehensive, and none will give you all the amazing insights that you will learn from working through the Reflective Bible Study Day of Rest study using the Reflective Bible Study framework.

I developed this study package to personally study the Sabbath and the seventh-day out for myself, and I included it on ReflectiveBibleStudy.com because I want it to help others like it has helped me.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to seek God first in your life and live your life in a way that brings God honor. If you haven’t studied the Sabbath topic from the Bible, consider this a challenge to do so. While you will be blessed if you use ReflectiveBibleStudy.com, plenty of other studies out there cover this topic well. Just be sure to choose a study that doesn’t pick and choose verses to focus in on. If you want the most balanced approach, find two studies, one that supports the Sabbath and one that rejects it, and study both. This will give you a better idea of both sides of this important issue and then you can decide for yourself with the Holy Spirit’s leading.

As always, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself in order to grow personally close to God. While other people can give you ideas to think about, always filter what you hear and read through the pages of God’s Word.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 49: With how John finishes describing the Friday Jesus is crucified, we can discover not only two secret disciples saving Easter, but we also discover how Jesus validates one underappreciated and often forgotten gift God gave us.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Flashback Episode — Joseph Saves Easter: Matthew 27:57-66

Read the Transcript

Following Jesus’ death on the cross, a previously unknown follower of Jesus steps onto the scene. The gospel of Matthew tells us three key details about the man known as Joseph of Arimathea, but while we don’t know many more details about this disciple, the role he plays when finally entering the gospel story is incredibly significant.

All four gospels share about Joseph, and John even goes the extra step in his gospel of including another secret disciple, Nicodemus, in his narrative.

However, instead of focusing in on what John describes, Matthew’s gospel includes a unique interlude event between Jesus’ death and resurrection, and for this reason, we will look at Matthew’s gospel for this podcast episode. Our event can be found in Matthew, chapter 27, and we will be reading from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 57, Matthew tells us:

57 That evening a rich disciple named Joseph from the town of Arimathea 58 went and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate gave orders for it to be given to Joseph, 59 who took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60 Then Joseph put the body in his own tomb that had been cut into solid rock and had never been used. He rolled a big stone against the entrance to the tomb and went away.

61 All this time Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb.

–Let’s pause reading here to draw our attention onto a couple of interesting details. This is the part of our event that all four gospel writers include, and we really only are given three relevant details about Joseph, the previously unknown disciple of Jesus.

The first detail I will mention is perhaps the least relevant to us living today. This detail is that Joseph was from Arimathea. Perhaps this was significant to people living in the region during the first century, but for our discussion happening 2,000 years later, this detail is less significant.

The second detail, which comes a couple verses later was that Joseph owned a tomb that had never been used. This detail is significant because it was where he planned on burying Jesus’ body. In essence, Joseph planned on donating his tomb to Jesus. Whether Joseph believed Jesus would come back to life in a few days, or whether he was willing to give up his planned final resting place for Jesus to use, we see a unique but relevant gift to God in Joseph of Arimathea’s gift of a tomb.

The third detail is that Joseph was rich. This detail would be irrelevant except that the fact he is introduced as being rich either implies that his wealth bought him influence with those in power in Judea, or that a portion of his riches were used to buy Jesus’ body from Pilate.

While all the gospel writers imply that Joseph simply asked for Jesus’ body, it would be irrelevant information to describe him as rich unless his riches were important to the narrative. I wonder if some of the Jewish leaders were upset with themselves at not asking for Jesus’ body for themselves. While the request from anyone would have been considered out of the ordinary, Jesus’ enemies would have had ample reason for requesting Jesus’ body as Matthew soon points out.

Matthew, as well as several of the other gospels, point out that some women watched everything that happened, and while this is a side-note for our passage here, this detail becomes very relevant on resurrection morning.

After sharing the details about the women watching Joseph of Arimathea burying Jesus, Matthew goes on to describe something that none of the other gospels share. Picking back up in verse 62, Matthew tells that:

62 On the next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. 63 They said, “Sir, we remember what that liar said while he was still alive. He claimed that in three days he would come back from death. 64 So please order the tomb to be carefully guarded for three days. If you don’t, his disciples may come and steal his body. They will tell the people that he has been raised to life, and this last lie will be worse than the first one.”

65 Pilate said to them, “All right, take some of your soldiers and guard the tomb as well as you know how.” 66 So they sealed it tight and placed soldiers there to guard it.

These details are incredibly significant for us to pay attention to. Nowhere in any of the gospels is the idea even hinted that the disciples were planning on stealing the body to spread a lie that Jesus rose again. This concern originated directly with the chief priests and Pharisees.

This is important for us to pay attention to for two reasons. The first is that the religious leaders set themselves up for depending on this lie even when it could be easily disproved. Because they craft this lie before anything has even happened which might warrant them using it, they blind themselves to the possibility that there would be a much better story they could spread. While a resurrected Jesus is hard to believe, so is a group of soldiers sleeping on the job while what they are guarding gets stolen from behind a sealed heavy stone. Equally unbelievable is a group of untrained men overpowering a band of highly skilled soldiers.

But the second reason we should pay attention to Matthew’s event is much more significant than the first. The only reason there were guards at the tomb and not disciples was because the Jewish leaders had more faith in Jesus’ words than even Jesus’ followers had. The religious leaders paid attention to Jesus’ message about being resurrected on the third day, while it would seem that either the disciples missed this message entirely, or they had dismissed it because of their preconceived ideas about who the Messiah would be.

Roman guards posted at the tomb, while posted there at the demands of the Jewish leaders, become the most valid testimony of a resurrected Jesus that could have been asked for. If the guards wouldn’t have been present at the tomb, then no one would have witnessed the resurrection and Jesus’ disciples would have been just as confused as the religious leaders. Instead, we find a group of religious leaders with a lie premade for their worst possible fear, and a group of followers who are confused when learning about an empty tomb.

Joseph of Arimathea’s gift was perfectly timed because it gave everyone the ability to track where Jesus was at, and the fact that He was resurrected. Had Jesus’ body simply been thrown into the dump of bodies or into the trash heap to be burned, there would have been no way to prove or disprove a resurrection because no one would have known where the original body lay.

The gift Joseph gives Jesus saves the Easter story, because it gave the followers of Jesus – women included – a place to look for Jesus at, it gave the Jewish leaders a place to seal and watch closely, and it gave the Roman soldiers a clear place to guard. Joseph’s gift led a group of Roman soldiers into being the first witnesses of a resurrected Jewish Messiah – and perhaps some of these soldiers were among those who beat and mocked Jesus just days earlier.

We have been forgiven because of what happened on Calvary, but it is up to us to accept the forgiveness God offers, and place our trust, hope, and belief in Jesus for our ultimate salvation.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I want to leave you with:

Accept God’s forgiveness and seek Him first in your life each day.

Choose to intentionally and prayerfully study the Bible for yourself to grow closer to God and to help develop a better understanding of who He is and what He is like.

And as I always end every set of challenges by saying, never stop short of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 48: Cam discusses Joseph from Arimathea and what we can learn about this previously unknown, unnamed disciple, and how his gift saved Easter.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Prophecy Fulfilled: John 19:28-37

Read the Transcript

If you have ever wondered if Jesus tried to force His way into fulfilling prophecy, our passage for this episode sheds light on how unlikely this could be. In our last episode, we looked at how Matthew’s gospel records the time Jesus takes His last breath on the cross, and the amazing things that happened when Jesus gave up His Spirit.

To follow up what we looked at in Matthew’s gospel, John’s gospel records some other interesting details relating to what happened after Jesus had died. From John’s gospel, we discover some very difficult to reconcile prophecies that were fulfilled following Jesus’ death if you believe Jesus tried to force His way into fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah. In John’s gospel, we discover just how eerily accurate the Old Testament pointed towards Jesus as the Messiah.

Our passage for this episode is found in John’s gospel, chapter 19, and we will be reading it from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 28, John describes the moment Jesus dies by telling us:

28 After this, when Jesus knew that everything had now been finished, he said, “I’m thirsty.” He said this so that Scripture could finally be concluded.

29 A jar filled with vinegar was there. So the soldiers put a sponge soaked in the vinegar on a hyssop stick and held it to his mouth.

30 After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, “It is finished!”

Then he bowed his head and died.

31 Since it was Friday and the next day was an especially important day of rest—a holy day, the Jews didn’t want the bodies to stay on the crosses. So they asked Pilate to have the men’s legs broken and their bodies removed. 32 The soldiers broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus.

33 When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. 34 However, one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus’ side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out. 35 The one who saw this is an eyewitness. What he says is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth so that you, too, will believe.

36 This happened so that the Scripture would come true: “None of his bones will be broken.” 37 Another Scripture passage says, “They will look at the person whom they have stabbed.”

In this passage, we discover three prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus’ time on the cross. Two episodes ago, when we looked at how John’s gospel describes the early portion of Jesus’ time on the cross, we discovered another prophecy that was fulfilled related to how Jesus’ clothing would be divided and gambled for.

Throughout the entire event of the cross, at least four prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled, and only one of these four Jesus had any direct involvement in. It was predicted that He would say He was thirsty while dying and this fulfilled one of the Old Testament predictions. Jesus did step into the role of Messiah willingly.

However, earlier in John’s gospel, we learned that the dividing and gambling of Jesus’ clothing was predicted, and this was not something Jesus had any say over. And then we conclude this passage and learn that Jesus was stabbed instead of having His legs broken. This was not something Jesus could have directed, and the soldiers likely could not have cared less about whether they were fulfilling a Jewish prophecy or not.

Using an unscientific ratio from just this event, if 25% of the prophecies about Jesus were under His control while 75% of the prophecies were not, the amazing reality that Jesus fulfilled so much of the Old Testament predictions regarding the Messiah are overwhelming. This was not something Jesus could force His way into. Even if we were to flip the ratio and say that 75% of the prophecies were within Jesus’ control, the remaining 25% is impressive enough of an amount that we should take note.

Earlier this year, we looked at how Jesus’ betrayal was predicted, the price that was paid for this betrayal was also predicted, and how the money was used after it was returned was also predicted. All this was also outside of Jesus’ direct control, and it was orchestrated by people who should have known better if they wanted to keep Jesus’ life and death from fulfilling prophecy. Their ignorance, or simply ignoring the knowledge they did have, incriminates them because they play into prophecy’s hand.

During Jesus’ crucifixion and death, we discover another group of people who fulfill a section of Old Testament prophecies and we discover that this group wouldn’t know or even care that they were doing so. The Roman soldiers follow a surprisingly specific set of conditions that were prophesied centuries earlier, and any thought that they intentionally orchestrated it is ridiculous when we look at Jewish vs. Roman hostility towards one another.

All this fulfilled prophecy speaks to one simple truth: Jesus is God’s Son and the Messiah God promised to the world! This truth is simple to acknowledge, a little more challenging to accept, and impossible to fully understand.

John writes that he personally witnessed the details that are described here, and that he shares them so that those who follow Jesus and who want to know God better can believe like he believes in Jesus.

Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we discover the picture of History. History is God’s story, and the high point of God’s story is displayed at Jesus’ death and resurrection. The entire scriptures point us to pay attention to Jesus.

When we pay attention to Jesus, we discover who He truly is, and we can then put our faith, hope, trust, and belief in Him. Through the record of the cross, we discover how much God loves us and what He was willing to give to restore our relationship with Him. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we have the offer of a new, eternal life with God!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and intentionally focus on Jesus in your life. When looking at your life, your history, and your future, intentionally choose to see yourself in the big picture of history – specifically in the picture of God’s story. Our lives only make sense when we begin to see them through the eyes of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself and intentionally study the scriptures with the understanding that Jesus is the focus. Only when we place Jesus as the focal point of scripture will we begin to discover God’s amazing love for His fallen creation. Decide today that you will discover this truth for yourself by praying and studying the Bible for yourself.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 48: At the end of Jesus’ life, the gospel of John records how this death fulfills several prophecies in ways that could only be described as God-directed. Learn how Jesus amazingly fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies in ways that He could not directly control.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.