Daily Readings and Prayer Points
Submitted by Iain A Macdonald
Friday 1st May
‘Each day Jesus was teaching in the temple and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple’.
In the days leading up to His crucifixion Jesus was teaching at the temple and going out to the Mount of Olives at night. On His last days on earth that is how he spent his hours. They were at the temple early in the morning to hear him. Matthew Henry in his commentary says, “They all came early in the morning, flocking to the temple, like doves to their windows, to hear him, though the chief priests and scribes did all they could to prejudice them against him. Sometimes the taste and relish which serious, honest, plain people have of good preaching are more to be valued and judged by than the opinion of the witty and learned, and those in authority.” On another occasion we read in Mark 12:37 ‘And the common people heard him gladly’ (A.V.)
Help us Lord to hear you gladly too. Help us like those crowds in Jerusalem to come early in the morning to hear your voice. Thank you that amongst the poorest of this world you are still drawing ordinary people to yourself. Help those who show the film ‘Jesus’ throughout the world so that people who often cannot read can learn what we are about to read in Luke’s gospel and believe.
Saturday 2nd May
‘He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present’.
There are many things we will never fully explain or understand. And here Judas willingly plays his part in helping the chief priests and the teachers of the law who ‘were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus’. Judas was a disciple of Jesus yet he discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. He wanted to do this when no crowd was present. Judas was an instrument in God’s plan. He was a pawn Satan used but God was in charge and Jesus knew. And in God’s master plan Jesus was complying with His heavenly Father’s will. Jesus constantly resisted Satan’s temptations and used God’s word to counter Satan in the desert at the outset of His ministry. Satan succeeded in tempting Judas which was leading ultimately to Satan’s downfall and Jesus vindication. In the midst of betrayal, disappointment and defeat we cannot always discern God’s plan or purpose. At this point in time we cannot easily say good is happening. Neither is it, of itself, easy to see good in a pandemic.
Help us Lord not to yield to temptation. Help those who are struggling with isolation to have faith, particularly the elderly, to trust in your goodness, despite the trials. Help those in church leadership to accept your way and your teaching and not to try to get rid of you and what you teach.
Sunday 3rd May
‘They left and found things just as Jesus had told them’.
The day of Unleavened bread on which the Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed involved Jews from all over the Roman empire celebrating the exodus from Egypt when the angel of death ‘passed over’ the Hebrew homes where blood had been sprinkled on the door frames. When they left Egypt all these years ago the children of Israel left in a hurry so the bread was unleavened or without yeast and the festival recollected that day with a day of unleavened bread. All males over the age of 12 were required to go to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. Jesus orchestrated Peter and John, telling them to look for a man carrying a water jar. Women usually did that. They were to follow him to a house and ask the owner where the guest room was so Jesus could have a Passover with his disciples.
V13 “They left and found things just as Jesus told them. So they prepared the Passover”.
God in His wisdom and mercy has led His people to this moment. ‘I am’ had led His people out of Egypt to this promised land. God had planned all these things. Jesus knew the plans he had for the Passover with His disciples. And He knew the plans His father had for Him.
Lord, help those who plan in National Health, police, armed services, local government, transport, education, church, finance, Scottish and UK government and throughout society that they would have your thoughts, wisdom, insight and foresight. Bless your Word today on TV, radio, internet and live streaming.
Monday 4th May
‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me”.
This remarkable event so soon before he was to die tells us that Jesus eagerly desired to eat this Passover with them before he suffered. The disciples did not always understand the significance of events, like us who are often slow to realise things, believe promises or appreciate the good things God gives. Christ still wants the companionship of His people. ‘Draw close to me and I will draw close to you’ He says. In the intimacy of the upper room with those close to him he is looking forward to the Kingdom of God coming saying ‘I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes’. It is impossible to describe fully the monumental nature of this hour when Jesus signalled a change from celebrating all God’s goodness in delivering His people in the past to this New Covenant. He is about to die to seal it. Not the passover Lamb. The Lamb of God who is to take away the sins of the world.
Lord, we ask you to help us to know your presence with us each day and that you are eagerly desiring to be with your people and come in and dine with them. We pray for the isolated, lonely and discouraged that we might help them with a phonecall or a letter.
Tuesday 5th May
V21 ‘but the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. Jesus has just finished saying ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you’ v20. Astounding. Love and betrayal sat together. Christ tells of His divine purpose. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. They began to question who would betray Jesus. Jesus knew. In the midst of these holy moments there was betrayal afoot. He says solemly ‘woe to that man who betrays me’.
Lord, we ask your forgiveness for the times we have let you down. We ask for grace and the power to forgive when we are let down or betrayed. We pray for Family Mediation and Women’s Refuges at this difficult time. We pray for the persecuted whose families have betrayed them. Bless the Girls’ Brigade today.
Wednesday 6th May
V26 ‘Instead the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves’.
Cassius Clay used to say that he was the greatest and in the heart of man there arises a desire to be the greatest. The disciples were no different. Jesus words act as a rebuke and His example rises high above all our pride and false ambition. ‘But I am among you as one who serves’ v27, This is a factual statement. Amongst this group of disciples at this holy passover feast we see humanity in the raw. Betrayal and self interest and ambition sit at the table with the servant King. He was soon to embody servanthood like no other. We are humbled by His grace. May we learn to serve and be faithful to this servant King who was bound to die.
We thank you Lord for serving us to the point of death. We thank you for the many people who have served others tirelessly in this pandemic. Be with them dear Jesus. We thank you for those who have died serving others in this pandemic, many from other lands. Comfort their families. Help the church to serve others and to reach out in our parish and amongst the young. Help us to find new and ingenious ways to serve one another during isolation and in the future. Help us to pray even although we cannot gather to do so today.
Thursday 7th May
V31 ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon that our faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brother’.
The disciples like us were a mixed bunch. To the list of betrayal and selfish ambition we can add Simon’s overconfidence. His assured ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death’ v33 was arguably well meant but misplaced. It is good to have wise confidence and to be able to say ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. We must recognise that we have not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. And we must know that we do not always have because we ask amiss. As we try hard to serve Christ and others He will provide the strength for the work prepared for each of us to do. Many a one, often mothers, will testify to getting strength beyond normal when they had gone as far as they thought they could. Peter denied Christ three times. But the Lord had prayed for him and he prays for us. And He knew Peter would be restored. And He restores us when we fail. Praise His Name.
Lord, we pray for those who feel a failure. Help them to know you are a God of the second chance. Help us to try afresh to help the young and old where we have failed to bring peace and comfort in the past. Thank you Lord that you restore our souls. Give strength we pray to mothers of toddlers today.
Friday 8th May
V42 ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’. Jesus has been aware that there is a traitor in the company, self centred followers and overconfident Peter who would betray him. He goes to the garden of Gethsemane and prays an agonized prayer asking for this cup to be taken from Him if possible. Yet He does not want His own will but His Father’s to be done. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in agony and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. He went back to the disciples and found them all asleep and tells them to get up and pray so they would not fall into temptation. What lay ahead for them? He knew better than they did. What temptation would they face: He knows us all and what we will face too and intercedes for us like he did for Peter. They had fallen asleep exhausted by sorrow. Christ, ‘the man of sorrows’ who knew pain like none other still keeps company with those exhausted by sorrow today.
Lord, we thank you for the loneliness you experienced so we need never feel alone but know you have promised never to leave us or forsake us. Help us to help others not to feel alone at this pandemic time and afterwards. Help Barnabas and Open Doors and other organisations to help those who are alone and persecuted because they follow you, Lord Jesus. Bless Feba radio as it reaches out to Christians who are alone and unsupported. When Open Doors is cancelled help the lonely who often come.
Saturday 9th May
‘But Jesus answered ‘No more of this! And he touched the man’s ear and healed him’.’
Jesus knew things without being told by man or sight. When Judas who he alluded to when he said at the Last Supper, ‘But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table, approached to kiss him Jesus asked, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ Jesus was being betrayed by Judas. When one of his followers struck the servant of the high priest Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ and touched the man’s ear and healed it. He challenged the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard for coming with swords and clubs saying they did not lay a hand on him when he was daily in the temple courts. Jesus used no force to protect himself, acknowledging that this was their hour – when darkness reigns. Jesus resigned to his father’s will and to darkness doing its worst.
Lord, we thank you that you are working your purposes out even in the darkest times. Please help the lonely in these troubled times. Help those who bring hope to others. Help us all. We pray for peacemakers and law keepers and the new justice centre. We pray for those who bring healing and all who are serving in the NHS and thank you for them. Thank you Lord that yours is a Kingdom of Love and Compassion. Help us to give of our means to the poor as we enter into Christian Aid Week tomorrow.
Sunday 10th May
V61-62 ‘The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him. ‘Before the cock crows today you will disown me three times’. 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly’.
Christ has already shown that he knows things before they happen. He has already prophesied these three denials (by the fire, a little later and about an hour later). He also mercifully had said ‘But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail And when you have turned back strengthen our brothers’ Luke 22:31-32. He was to be restored. Not taking recourse to force to protect himself and denied by one who professed ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death’. Luke 22:33 Jesus was now mocked, beaten and insulted by his guards.
Lord, thank you for what you endured for us, alone and unsupported. Forgive us when we do not stand up for you or your people or the oppressed. We pray for the young at school and university, for Scripture Union and Christian Unions. Help Christians to stand up for you. We pray for prison chaplains that they would be able to tell hopeless people that you give us a second chance, Lord Jesus. Thank you for the internet, TV and radio and live streaming and all the ways we can join others to worship today. Bless Sam MacDonald who was born 90 years ago today.
Monday 11th May
V70 ‘They all asked ‘Are you the Son of God?’ He replied ‘You are right in saying I am’’. Jesus was led before the religious leaders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law who wanted him, apparently, to say He was the Christ if he was. They were trying to get him to say it, even although they would not believe Him and think it blasphemous. He was only in their hands because God allowed it. He said something in His response in v69 which showed His real authority despite his apparent present powerlessness. ‘But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God’ Who Jesus is is vitally important. Some say he is a prophet and a son of God or one of the ways to God. He says, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In Matthew 16 v16 Simon Peter, who we read denied Jesus and wept, answered the question ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God’ Jesus acknowledged that Simon Peter was blessed and flesh and blood had not told him but His Father in heaven.
Lord Jesus we thank you that you have opened our eyes to see who you are, God’s Son. We pray for those who teach the teachers, for Hector Morrison and Andrew McGowan and others at HTC and for those teaching for the Church of Scotland and the Free Church and other churches. We pray for children in Sunday School and Youth Fellowship and Girls’ Brigade that they would know you and follow you.
Tuesday 12th May
The whole assembly took Jesus to Pilate the governor of Judea and said he was subverting the nation, opposed paying taxes and claimed to be Christ, a king. Again he is asked directly a question, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Yes it is as you say’ Jesus replied. But the governor of Judea announced to the chief priests and the crowd ‘I find no basis for the charge against this man’. They insisted that he stirred up the people all over Judea and that he had come all the way from Galilee. The establishment and earthly powers in various lands in our age still have felt threatened and have tried to subdue the influence of ‘the King of the Jews’ who said ‘my kingdom is not of this world’. And He still stirs the people up to faith, worship, and adoration of the King of Kings, now indeed at the right hand of the mighty God.
We thank you Lord that you are King of the Jews and King of kings and Lord of lords and by your Spirit stir people to praise your name today. We pray for Amnesty International and others who fight injustice and kangaroo courts and false imprisonment. We pray for those who boldly declare the truth at great cost and thank you for them. Strengthen them, O Lord. Thank you Lord that one day your kingdom fully will come. Help us on earth to pray and act so that we will see your signs of your kingdom now.
Wednesday 13th May
V8 ‘When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him, he hoped to see Him perform some miracle’.
In His ministry many were interested in the miracles Jesus performed. Sometimes the miracles were not seen for what they were. In Mark 3:22 the teachers of the law said that by the prince of demons he was driving out demons. We also read in Matthew 12 that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law wanted to see a miraculous sign v38. But Jesus was forthright in reply ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah v39. And He is clearly saying that the resurrection will prove He was the Messiah and He was referring to His rising again after three days like Jonah came out of the fish after three days. Jesus knew what was in their hearts as He knew what was in Herod’s heart. Herod asked Jesus many questions but he got no answer. We see Herod’s true colours as along with his soldiers they mock and ridicule Jesus and, dressing Him in an elegant robe, they send Him back to Pilate. Pointedly we are told ‘That day Herod and Pilate became friends – ‘before they had been enemies’ v12. In God’s plan, these powerful men who had the authority to release Jesus, although now friends were to be no friend to Jesus or uphold justice as they could and should, despite agreeing Jesus was innocent.
Thank you Lord Jesus that we can have simple faith and not need miracles although you still today reveal your miraculous power. Forgive us Lord that we do not use the law properly to stand up for you and those who suffer. We pray for the Christian Institute as it supports your ways. We pray for politicians locally, in Edinburgh and London at this time of virus. We pray for the Church of Scotland nationally and other Christian churches.
Thursday 14th May
‘I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for our charges against him. Neither has Herod for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death’ v14,15. Pilate and Herod judged Jesus to be innocent. But man cannot judge God. Man, even fallen man has a conscience and the ability to discern good and bad, right and wrong. But fallen man, even redeemed man is prone to err in thought, word and deed. An old ‘East’ friend used to pray ‘put us right where we are wrong’. This will ever be our prayer on earth. But when ‘Christ appears we will be like him’ 1 John 3:2. Meanwhile if we say we have no sin the truth is not in us. But, despite that, fallible man was still able, during Jesus earthly ministry to discern that He was One like no other. But only in Glory will His person be fully known and will we properly know who He is. Pilate and Herod did not see who He was. But Pilate and Herod found He had done ‘nothing to deserve death’. At first I found that one of the most remarkable understatements I could imagine. They did not judge as God judges but found no offence worthy of a death sentence. But God’s judgement is that the wages of sin is death and here was one who had not sinned and had therefore ‘done nothing to deserve death’ indeed. He was like no other in that respect.
Thank you Lord Jesus that because you have done no wrong you are worthy and so we are forgiven because of your death for us as we trust in you. We pray for those who at this strange time are perplexed and wondering who you are. Open their eyes, and ours to see you more clearly and love you more dearly. We pray for CLC Christian Book Shop and those who share gospel literature so people can understand who you are. We pray for the Toddlers and for families at home. Help them in testing times.
Friday 15th May
‘But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand’.
Despite Pilate and Herod concluding that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death the crowd with one voice had said ‘Release Barabbas to us!’ Pilate wanted to release Jesus so he appealed to the crowd again who kept shouting ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ He found no grounds for the death penalty and therefore intended to punish Jesus and release Him. But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that Jesus be crucified even after Pilate had spoken to them three times. Eventually Pilate allowed their shouts to prevail, releasing Barabbas who had been charged with insurrection and murder and surrendered Jesus to their will. And Jesus was surrendering to His Father’s will. Jesus was surrendered by Pilate to the will of the crowd against the findings of the law. All things were working out together for good for Him who loved God and was called according to His purpose. Even this injustice of all injustices.
Forgive us Lord when we insist on our own way and hurt others. Help us to realise when we are insistent and persistent in our own selfish ways. Help the church, society and world to not insist on our own selfish way. We pray for the young and very young and parents who help them to be less demanding, selfish and insistent.
Saturday 16th May
V26 ‘As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus’.
There is much we do not understand in the bible and it is helpful sometimes to accept that and wait for understanding and concentrate on the parts that are plain, accepting always that we need God’s help to open the eyes of our understanding. When Jesus talks to the mourning women as he is led to crucifixion he is warning them, some have suggested, of the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in only about forty years time. And it is suggested that he is saying to the women that if this is what happens to you when you are innocent, think what will happen if you are guilty. Simon was seized in order to ‘help’ Jesus by carrying his cross. Sometimes in life we have no choice. We are made to do things we don’t see the purpose of, although Simon of Cyrene may well have been somewhat aware of the purpose of his task. We may have been made to go to Church and Sunday School. Some may have not seen the point of that. Only later do we sometimes ‘see the light’. But the purpose of being forced to assist in helping an innocent man to die would seem to have no good point. Ever. Later it would be seen that Simon was an instrument in God’s plan for man’s greater good and the death of that innocent man was central to that.
We thank you for work and the jobs we are called to do. Help us to work willingly as to you Lord. Thank you for those who are working for others in lorries and vans, supermarkets, bin lorries and post office and hospital staff. Thank you for all those everyday workers who help us. Help us to name them before you and pray for them. Thank you for carrying a load for us, Lord, that nobody else could carry. Help us to bear one another’s burdens.
Sunday 17th May
‘Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing’, and they divided up his clothes by casting lots’.
Many including Simon who carried Jesus cross were doing their daily jobs or had no particular desire to see Jesus crucified. Evil men, religious men, were driving the plan abetted by a willing traitor and spurred on by an unreasoning, driven crowd. Even from the cross while in agony Jesus seeks mercy for those merely doing their job. In the wrong place at the wrong time? Yet they were part of God’s plan which Jesus has resigned himself to willingly though he could have got thousands of angels to save Him. Amidst it all they cast lots, a ‘raffle’ for Jesus clothes, as was the Romans’ custom in dividing up the clothes of executed people. Some things seem what they call chance or random. Who will get His robe? God who sees all things knows all things and who has no beginning or no end says the hairs on our heads are numbered. Jesus knew who held the future. Can we say ‘I know who holds the future, and He’ll guide me with His hand. With God things don’t just happen, Everything by Him is planned. So as I face tomorrow with its problems large and small, I’ll trust the God of miracles, Give to Him my all’. Ask the Saviour to help you, comfort, strengthen and keep you. He is willing to aid you. He will carry you through.
We do not always know what we are doing wrong. Help us and have mercy on us, dear Lord. Thank you for daily work. Help the unemployed and those losing jobs. Help those who think life is a lottery and have no hope and have fallen foul to gambling and other addictions. Help us and those at Beechwood and Road to Recovery to help them. Bless those who share your word to us today and bless your Word.
Monday 18th May
V35 ‘The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One’.
The assembled company said ‘let him save himself’. The soldiers mocked, offered wine vinegar and said that if He was the King of the Jews he should save himself. And one of the criminals hurled insults at Him and told Him to save Himself and them. Jesus did not need to prove Himself to anyone. There was no ‘if’. He was the Son of God. He was the Christ of God, the Chosen One. No ‘if’. And He would not save Himself. He was not there to do their bidding. He was there to do His Father’s will. Saving Himself now would no more prove He was the Son of God than turning stones to bread would have at the beginning of His ministry. May we know that it was for us He hung and suffered there. And tasted death and punishment for us so that by faith in Him we need not fear death or judgement. Do we believe that?
Church doors have been closed Lord, help us to know that you are ever ready night and day to hear our cries for ourselves and the needy at this strange time, and our worship and thanks for dying so we may be forgiven and live. We pray for our churches. We pray for our Sunday School and Youth Group. We pray for internet services, CDs, TV, streaming music, Zoom, Skype, radio and all means we have to worship you.
Tuesday 19th May
V42,43 ‘Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom. Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with m in paradise’.’
In contrast to the sneering and mockery a lone voice goes against the tide of opposition. In response to the other criminal’s insults and call to Jesus to save Himself and them, the one hanging on the other side said, ‘Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong’. He then pleads for mercy in the briefest most urgent of pleas. ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom’. Graciously and amazingly Jesus reply is likewise short and plain. ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’. Like this man we have no merit sufficient to please a holy God who all of us should fear without His mercy. This man’s time was short. Is ours? May we be reassured afresh that we know the same mercy as the criminal or know for the first time that if we ask for mercy He turns none away and He says ‘ask and you will receive’. Let us ask.
Thank you for the promises in the Bible and for this record of your mercy Lord. Help us to ask for help and trust you. We pray for hospices, hospitals and homes where people are close to dying. Give them your comfort. Help them to believe. We pray for chaplains.
Wednesday 20th May
V46 ‘Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed His last’.
Darkness came over the whole land for about three hours for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. The One who controlled the skies and the planets signalled the death of the Son of God with the darkness. And a new beginning that would be heralded in by His once for all sacrifice as the curtain was torn in the temple from top to bottom. Christ’s death meant no need for the Most Holy Place where the high priest alone entered once a year for the sins of the people. Now all people could approach God directly through Christ. Some who witnessed this amazing event may have praised God like the centurion who recognised that Jesus was a righteous man. Those who knew him including the women stood watching these things.
Lord, help us to know that in the darkest of times good things are happening. Thank you for all the churches. Thank you for those who look after them. Thank you for the East Church and those who help run it. Thank you we can worship you anywhere. Help us to do so. Thank you for the ‘Easties’ women’s WhatsApp group and for women across churches. Help them to pray.
Thursday 21st May
V55,56 ‘Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment’.
Not everyone in life goes along with the crowd, thankfully. And often it costs them. Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jews) was a member of the Council and along with Nicodemus, (who had once come to Jesus by night), came to Pilate. He asked for the body of Jesus. They wrapped his body in spices and linen and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock. The women who came from Galilee with Jesus and watched his crucifixion from a distance followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how the body was laid in it. They then went home, prepared spices and rested on the Sabbath. After all the action there was a rest from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. We should know that when nothing seems to be happening or when we are resting that God’s plans can still be working out. And that there is always still a place for a day of rest and we don’t always have to be doing.
Lord help us to be still and know that you are God. We pray for those who have lost loved ones and who have not been free to mourn openly with friends or family because of the virus. We pray for the families of those who have died in tragic ways and for those who bring comfort.
Friday 22nd May
V6,7 ‘He is not here! He has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee. The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, crucified and on the third day be raised again’. After the day of rest, very early in the morning the women took spices and went to the tomb where they found the stone rolled away. Inside there was no body. They were wondering about this when suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening stood beside them. Frightened, they bowed to the ground. The men asked why they were looking for the living among the dead. ‘He is not here, he has risen!’ they said. And they reminded them that he had told them while in Galilee that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again. Then they remembered what Jesus had said. Like many who Jesus taught the women did not fully understand the significance of the empty tomb although they had been told. When the men told them they recalled his words. He said He was going to be raised on the third day. Here was the evidence. We are often like the women and need to be reminded of God’s promises and word.
Thank you Lord that you are a risen Saviour. Thank you that you promise never to leave or forsake those who place their trust in you. Thank you Lord that you gave the news of your resurrection first to women to pass on. Help the women of our church and other churches in Inverness and Scotland to share the good news. Bless teacher and pupils in day schools as they try under new circumstances to teach clearly.
Saturday 23rd May
V11 ‘But they did not believe the women because their words seemed like nonsense’.
The women Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others told the apostles Jesus was risen. They did not believe them.
Using past experience, our rational mind and common senses will never get us to a place of understanding the God of the impossible. It will seem like nonsense. Indeed we cannot make sense of it. Blind unbelief is sure to err. In Hebrews 11 v6 we read ‘and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and He rewards those who diligently seek Him’. The apostles found what the women said to be like nonsense. They did not believe them and had no faith in their words. Nor did they have faith in what Jesus told them would happen yet. But it was not their faith or lack of faith that made Jesus rise from the dead. God had decreed it and it HAD happened. Peter, however ran to the tomb looked at the linen and wondered. Later Thomas was allowed to put his hand into the side of Jesus who told him to stop doubting and believe after he had said he wouldn’t believe unless he saw the nail marks and put his hand in Jesus’ side. But Jesus encourages us as he encouraged these faltering early followers.
Lord, thank you for your patience with us as we grow to understand more and more how amazing your love is and what you are able to do, and the promises in your word. Help those who are ministers of God’s Word, and teachers to share and explain the Word of God. Help us to share with others the gospel and encourage Paul Haringman who encouraged us to share the gospel. Pray for Hugh Watt our Interim Moderator.
Sunday 24th May
V15,16 ‘As they talked and discussed these things with each other Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising him’.
Two disciples were walking on the Emmaus road away from Jerusalem the same day that the women found the body missing from the tomb. They were downcast and Jesus came alongside and walked with them and asked what they were talking about. They stood still at this and Cleophas asked this apparent stranger if he was the only visitor to Jerusalem who didn’t know what happened there in these days. Jesus asked, ‘What things?’.
God in His sovereignty can reveal Himself in great power or ‘conceal’ Himself. The disciples were kept from recognising Him. How? Are we presently in a situation that means we are discouraged and downcast and walking away from people who could encourage us and instead are helping each other to have a disheartening time? And do we not realise Jesus is right beside us and wants to hear our apparent problem and help us from His word and encourage us. Was Jesus veiling His face or was it they who kept themselves from recognising Him? Does Jesus want to speak encouragement to your soul?
Help us Lord to encourage each other and to support each other especially at this challenging time and when we face problems. Help us to draw heart from what you say and not what dark discouragement suggest, Lord. Help us to find ways on the TV, radio, internet and CD and live streaming to get encouragement from praise and your Word.
Monday 25th May
‘About Jesus of Nazareth’, they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people’. V19
This was the beginning of the reply the disciples gave to Jesus to the question of what things had happened. They explained that Jesus had been sentenced to death and crucified. They had hoped He would redeem Israel. They also said the woman amazed them by saying they had gone to the tomb and hadn’t found the body but a vision of angels saying He was alive. It was confirmed that the body was gone but nobody saw Him they said.
Sometimes we do not understand what the purpose somebody has in doing something. The disciples on the Emmaus Road seem to have thought, like many Jews, that Jesus came to fulfil Old Testament prophecy to be a military and political Messiah. This may have explained their discouragement. They didn’t seem to understand that Jesus’ Kingdom was as He said ‘not of this world’. And that He came to serve and that Christ’s path to glory was through the cross, apparent defeat. Nor did they realise that He was alive and right beside them. Do we still expect Christ to build our Kingdoms or are we interested to help His Kingdom to come and His will to be done?
Lord, we pray for missionaries who are helping your Kingdom to come. We pray for the Nominating Committee that they will be guided by You Lord.
Tuesday 26th May
V27 ‘And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in the Scriptures concerning Himself’.
Jesus had risen from the dead and the disciples on the Emmaus road had not realised that or the express purpose He had come to earth for or the significance of the Scriptures that spoke of Him. Jesus had listened to them and then replied after drawing out from them what they actually thought. He said how foolish they were and how slow of heart they were to understand that the Christ had to suffer these things and then enter His glory. And then He explained to them what was said in the Scriptures concerning himself. As yet they did not realise who He was. Christ has engaged with them as they walked along. Is Christ helping you to realise things about Him as you walk along? Lee Strobel, the author, thought the divinity of Jesus was ‘nothing more than the fanciful invention of superstitious people’. As a journalist he carried out an investigation of the evidence and in the book ‘The Case for Christ’ came to a different conclusion as he saw Christ and believed.
We pray for Christian Unions at Universities, and chaplains that work in hospitals and prisons and amongst the forces helping to explain the good news, and for students at this uncertain time. We pray for the Girls’ Brigade as they try to share at ‘meetings’ with Zoom on the internet.
Wednesday 27th May
V29 ‘But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over. So he went in to stay with them’.
Having explained what the Scriptures said about Himself, the disciples had not yet recognised him. He moved as if He was going on further but they urged him strongly to stay with them. When He accepted their enthusiastic invitation they had a meal together and as he broke bread and began to give it to them their eyes were opened and they recognised Him. And He disappeared. They said to each other how their hearts burned within them on the road when He opened the Scriptures to them. Are we similarly excited when we read the Scriptures which inspire, encourage and calm our troubled hearts? Do they give us wisdom, explain things, clarify matters and give us hope in believing?
We thank you for church prayer meetings in all the churches and for family meetings in our homes and for the phone and internet. We thank you for the Women’s Bible Study group and House groups. Bless them. Help us to entertain strangers.
Thursday 28th May
‘They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon’.
The disciples had found their hearts burning within them on the Emmaus road as Jesus opened the Scriptures to them but now they realised Jesus was risen. They had been told He has risen but now they had seen it with their own eyes. They got up and returned to Jerusalem at once where the eleven were together and saying that it was true that the Lord had risen and appeared to Simon. The two then told them that they had met Jesus on the road and recognised Him when He broke bread when He accepted an invitation of hospitality. There must have been great rejoicing after the great sadness and discouragement. Joy after sorrow. We may not be able to meet together to celebrate the reality of Christ’s resurrection and rejoice together like the disciples but let us find ways to share our joy in believing.
We pray for the Toddlers’ group and for young families as they grow up. Thank you Lord that we are still able to share the Good News that you are risen. And thank you for those who work the technology to share that and to communicate with family and friends.
Friday 29th May
V38,39 ‘He said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in you minds. Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have’.
While they were rejoicing together and talking about Jesus being alive, Jesus himself stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you’. Strangely we might think, given their rejoicing, that they were startled and frightened. They thought he was a ghost! Jesus reassured them. He asked why they were troubled and why doubts arose in their minds. ‘Look at my hands and my feet’ He said, assuring them that it was Him, and that ghosts didn’t have flesh and blood and invited them to touch Him. And while they did not believe it because of joy and amazement he asked if they had anything to eat. So they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. It seems strange that they did not believe because of joy and amazement and that they were reassured by physical evidence. Like us they didn’t always find the truth was easy to understand or believe, admitting to this event being the most remarkable of all events.
Thank you Lord that you are risen. Forgive us when we have doubts. Help us when we have fears Lord. Help those who have missed celebrating and having meals with family and friends. Thank you for those who make meals and deliver them to others during these strangest of times. Help those who have not been able to go to church and events like ‘Open Doors’ and ‘The Gathering’ that provide company and tea.
Saturday 30th May
‘He said to them ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you! Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures’.
As we read the Scriptures and take more time to meditate on and examine them we realise more and more how they are linked up. But unless our minds are opened up by God we will be as blind as those who crucified Jesus. As we read them and digest them we should ask God, ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law’ Psalm 119:18. The more we do so the more we want to do so. The old adage ‘Sin will keep me from this book and this book will keep me from sin’ applies. Jesus explained that these Old Testament Scriptures told that He would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be reached to all nations in His name beginning in Jerusalem. But they must wait for the Holy Spirit that the Father promised. At the outset of His Ministry Jesus confirmed to an amazed gathering in the synagogue in Nazareth after he had read the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’ Luke 4:21. He was the long awaited Messiah. He is still inviting you and me to recognise who He is and to read the Scriptures and, with our minds opened, find out. John says in his gospel, ‘But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name’.
Help us Lord to find as we read your Word that we are drawn to you and believe you are the Christ and that we have life in your name. Comfort us. We pray for the Bible Society, the Gideons, CLC and Scripture Union and all who reach out with your Word. We thank you that you reach out to all nations. We pray for missionaries we know and organisations we know who spread the Good News to all the earth.
Sunday 31st May
V52,53 ‘Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually in the temple praising God’.
Since His resurrection, Jesus and His followers travelled from Jerusalem to Galilee and back before He returned to heaven spending forty days with them between resurrection and ascension. He led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, a town outside Jerusalem at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed them and while He was doing so He ascended into heaven. Then they worshipped Him. They had been with Jesus for some time, seen Him heal and do miracles, raise the dead, speak like no other, pray like no other to His Heavenly Father and end up crucified on the cross. They had been slow to understand, competitive and doubting and fearful. Now they had seen Him raised from the dead and had just witnessed Him ascending to His Father, vindicated. They worshipped Him. He was worthy of all Glory and Honour and they had witnessed His majesty, power and His great love. And they stayed continually in the temple praising God when the returned to Jerusalem with great joy. May we too know that great joy in believing.
Lord Jesus, ascended and at God’s right hand, forgive us and help us to simply trust and have faith in you. Help us to worship you in spirit and truth when all our churches are closed or we are confined to homes or hospital. Help us to praise you at home and in the bus, the car, or wherever we are. Thank you for music, choirs, the internet and CDs and tapes to help us praise your great name. May you, the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in you so we may overflow with hope by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13