This month we conclude our readings in the Gospel of Luke. We are going to move very slowly through these last chapters of the Gospel because they are very significant, covering Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, resurrection and appearances to his disciples.
Tuesday 1st November
We read these verses yesterday noting that Jesus was calm in the midst of the events of his arrest, quite prepared for what lay ahead. We read them again today to note the place of Judas, who betrayed Jesus. It is no coincidence that Jesus says that they could have arrested him in day in the temple courts but they preferred the darkness. Judas was living in the darkness of a soul which had now rejected Christ. His end would follow soon. Remember the words of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3:19: ‘Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil’. Are we living in the light or in the darkness?
Pray for the meeting of Presbytery tonight and for the new Moderator, the Rev David Scott of Inshes Church.
Wednesday 2nd November
In Luke 22:31-34, Jesus told Peter that he would betray him three times before the cock crowed. Peter was indignant and protested that he was ready to die with Jesus. Here in these verses before us today, that prophecy of Jesus is fulfilled. Like all the others, Peter ran away when Jesus was arrested, following at a distance to see what would happen. Then he was challenged, first by a servant woman and then by two others. In each case, he denied that he even knew Jesus. Then the cock crowed. We’re told that, ‘The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter’. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said and was deeply ashamed and distressed. Can we think of times when we have failed God, perhaps by breaking vows we have made, or by deliberately sinning? Did we feel God’s eye upon us and were we ashamed?
Pray for the Fellowship Groups meeting this week and next, asking that God will use these groups to take us further into the Bible and to deepen our fellowship.
Thursday 3rd November
We read this again to note that Peter ‘went outside and wept bitterly’. Can we even begin to imagine what he felt at that point? He had denied his Lord. He must have imagined that it was all over for him, that even if Jesus survived, he would want nothing to do with a man who had denied him in his hour of need. I wonder if he remembered what Jesus said when he prophesied that Peter would deny him? Jesus said in Luke 22:31-32: ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers’. Jesus had prayed for him and he would be restored. In Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25, we’re told that Jesus prays for us. When we fail, we must remember that. He will lift us up and see us through, as he did Peter.
Pray for the Trustees of Covenant Fellowship Scotland as they meet today in Inverness.
Friday 4th November
It would be easy to pass over these verses but they emphasise all that Jesus suffered. Imagine being blindfolded and then your captors begin to beat you. Soon you are bleeding and sore, bruised and battered. To make it worse, every time someone hits you, you are asked to say who it was! ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ The sufferings of Jesus were progressive. First the arrest, then his abandonment by his disciples and followers, leaving him quite alone. Then the beating started. In Matthew 27:27-31 we’re told that they forced a crown of thorns on his head, they spat on him and they beat him on the head repeatedly with a staff (heavy stick). When we think of all that Jesus suffered to obtain for us the forgiveness of sins, we should be ashamed every time we sin.
Pray for Open Doors, asking that we might be able to help those who come in and also that the Gospel will change lives.
Saturday 5th November
Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin and interrogated. This was not an attempt to administer justice but an exercise in finding reasons to have Jesus killed. Jesus said that he was the Son of Man. In Daniel 7:14, the prophet describes a vision he had of ‘one like a Son of Man’ who ‘was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed’. The chief priests and teachers of the law knew that the ‘Son of Man’ was a messianic description and that Jesus was claiming to be the one whose dominion would never pass away. This would have infuriated them. Did you know about that Daniel reference? Sometimes we only understand the New Testament by reading the Old Testament. We should be sure that we read the whole Bible, so that we get the whole message God has for us.
Pray for tonight’s supper and musical evening in the church to raise money for Mary MacVicar to go to Tanzania with the Vine Trust.
Sunday 6th November
Yesterday we read these verses to note the significance of the expression ‘Son of Man’. We read them again today to focus on the second title which Jesus claims, the ‘Son of God’. They asked him, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’. His answer was clear, ‘You are right in saying I am’. This claim to be the Son of God reminds us that the eternal second Person of the Trinity (the Son of God) was incarnated, added a human nature to his divine nature and was born as Jesus of Nazareth. In a world of many religions and in a culture which refuses to prioritise one religion over another, this claim to Jesus’ uniqueness as the Son of God is constantly challenged. We hear things like, ‘All religions are part of the common human quest for ultimate reality, for the Absolute’, the implication being that Jesus Christ is simply one way to God among many others. Defending the uniqueness of Christ as the eternal Son of God will be the greatest challenge facing us in the years to come.
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services today and for Iain Macdonald as he takes the service at Raigmore.
Monday 7th November
In this passage Jesus takes to himself yet another title. He was taken before Pilate, by the Jewish religious leaders and accused of many things. Among other accusations, they say that Jesus was claiming to be the Christ, a King. When Pilate questions him, he asks him if he is the King of the Jews, Jesus replies, ‘Yes, it is as you say’. Once again we have a clear-cut affirmation of his messianic identity and his status. The Jewish people were expecting a messianic king who would sit on David’s throne, not least because of prophecies such as Isaiah 9:6-7: ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever’. Jesus was the fulfilment of that prophecy.
Pray for Neil and Rachel Rae and their children, serving with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Manila, in the Philippines.
Tuesday 8th November
Pontius Pilate was the Prefect (or governor) of the Roman province of Judaea. Pilate was not much interested in Jewish religious squabbles unless they affected his responsibilities as the agent of the emperor. The fact that Jesus claimed to be the king of the Jews was, to him, an internal Jewish matter. He concluded that Jesus had done nothing wrong in Roman law and therefore he was minded to release him. Jesus’ accusers would not give up easily and they kept arguing with Pilate and urging him to take action against Jesus. At one point they said that he was a Galilean and Pilate suddenly saw a way out of his dilemma. He sent Jesus to Herod. Pilate, as we shall see, was a very weak man who knew what he ought to do but failed to do it. Have we ever been like that?
Pray for the members and adherents of our congregation who are sick, housebound or in Care Homes. Many of them miss being able to get to church. Pray that God will always be real to them and near to them.
Wednesday 9th November
The Herod in this passage is Herod Antipater, the son of Herod the Great. It was his father who massacred the children of Bethlehem when the Wise Men told him that a king had been born. Now he finds himself, in his role as Tetrach of Galilee, being asked to judge whether or not Jesus was guilty of breaking the law. Herod was pleased to have Jesus before him because he wanted to see a miracle! He had heard of the things Jesus had done and hoped that he would also see something remarkable. Herod questioned Jesus but Jesus refused to answer. His accusers continued to raise many charges against him. In the end, Herod and his soldiers ridiculed Jesus and sent him back to Herod wearing a royal robe. The Son of God was before him and all that Herod could do was mock. Is that not like so many in our country today?
Pray for the Church of Scotland and all its parishes. Pray for a return to solid biblical teaching throughout the Church and remember those congregations which are struggling in the midst of the present difficulties.
Thursday 10th November
Jesus was sent back to Pilate and Pilate reached his judgement. He said that he could find no fault in Jesus. He spoke clearly: ‘You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him’. Leaving aside why he would punish a man whom he had found to be innocent of all charges, we must ask why Pilate was so keen to get rid of Jesus. Perhaps the answer is in Matthew 27:19: ‘While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him”‘. Pilate was afraid and desperate to find a way out of his problem. Have we ever opted for the easy way out instead of taking a stand on what is right?
Pray for the Senior Citizens’ lunch in Raigmore today, asking that God would work in the lives of all who come.
Friday 11th November
We read these verses again to focus in on the character of the man. Pilate was quite clear that Jesus had done nothing wrong and he wanted to release him (verse 20). The problem was that he was a weak man. It was the custom to release a prisoner at the Passover time and he tried to solve his problem by releasing Jesus. Astonishingly, the crowd called for him to release Barabbas instead. Their hatred for Jesus (urged on by the Jewish religious leaders) was so great that they would rather see a murderer released! Here was a real test of Pilate’s character. Would he do what was right or would he crucify an innocent man. The answer is in Mark 15:15: ‘Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified’. He took the coward’s way out in face of the mob. To make matters worse, he then tried to evade responsibility, as we read in Matthew 27:24: ‘When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”‘ He was a pathetic, weak coward, who went along with the crowd. Have we ever gone with the crowd and failed to stand for Jesus?
Pray for June McGowan and her team as they make the final preparations for the ‘Women in the East’ conference in our church tomorrow.
Saturday 12th November
The Roman soldiers seized a man called Simon, from Cyrene (in modern day Libya, on the north coast of Africa), and forced him to carry the cross of Jesus. Luke doesn’t tell us anything else about this Simon but Mark does, describing him as ‘the father of Alexander and Rufus’ (Mark 15:21). It may be that Mark said this because Simon’s family were Christians. Some scholars think that the Rufus (and his mother) mentioned in Romans 16:13, may be the same man. If this is true and Simon was of a Christian family, then perhaps the shock of being seized and forced to carry Jesus’ cross gave way later to a pride in sharing the burden of the Lord at such a critical point in his last journey. Of course to ‘bear the cross’ can have a meaning for us too. As Jesus said in Matthew 10:38: ‘Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me’.
Pray for today’s ‘Women in the East’ conference. Pray especially for the speaker, Jenny Wilson.
Sunday 13th November
Now we come to the crucifixion. Jesus is led out with two criminals and the three of them are crucified. Their hands and feet would have been nailed to the wood of the Cross and then the Cross raised. They would have hung in great pain, increasingly unable to breathe. This was one of the cruellest forms of execution. Yet there was something deeper here too. In Deuteronomy 21:23, we are told that ‘anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse’. Paul understood this and wrote in Galatians 3:13: ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” There was a transaction taking place on the Cross. Jesus took the curse and punishment of God upon himself in order that we might be redeemed. We must look beyond the facts of the story to understand its meaning. Do we understand the significance of the Cross?
Pray for the Minister as he takes the Remembrance Sunday service this morning, for Mr John Alick MacQuarrie as he takes the Gaelic Service, Bill Flett as he takes the Raigmore service and Dougie Wolf as he takes the evening service.
Monday 14th November
We read these verses again today in order to focus on verse 34: ‘Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”’. In the midst of pain and suffering, Jesus sought forgiveness for the very men who were executing him and no doubt also for the ones who sought his execution. Forgiveness was at the heart of the Cross. Not only did Jesus pray here for forgiveness for those crucifying him, the Cross itself brought forgiveness to everyone who has faith in Jesus. Having been forgiven, we are to forgive others. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: ‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins’. How do we measure up in this matter of forgiveness?
Pray for the school assembly at Raigmore Primary this morning.
Tuesday 15th November
In Mark 15:32 we read, ‘Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.’ As the day went on, this changed. One of them challenged Jesus to save himself and them, if he really was the Christ but the other criminal rebuked him, asking him if he did not fear God. Then he said this: ‘We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong’. He recognised his sin. Recognition of sin is the first step towards salvation. Salvation does not come to us because we’re good but because we recognise that we’re not! The next step the thief took was to pray to Jesus: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’. Salvation comes when we humble ourselves before God, ask for the forgiveness of sins and ask Jesus to be our Saviour. Having prayed to Jesus, the Saviour responded. The man had shown repentance and faith and was saved. Finally, the man is granted assurance of his salvation. Jesus assured the man that he would be in paradise that very day. Have we been saved?
Pray for congregations which are looking for a new minister, in our own Presbytery and further afield. Pray particularly for congregations which have been vacant for a long time and are beginning to lose heart.
Wednesday 16th November
Three hours of darkness as Jesus hung on the Cross. Then the curtain in the temple was torn in two. This was the curtain through which the High Priest went on the day of Atonement to make sacrifices for the sins of the people. No further sacrifice was now needed. Jesus our Great High Priest had sacrificed himself and the way into the presence of God had been opened to all. Then we read that Jesus committed his spirit into the hands of God and breathed his last. This is the way in which Jesus’ earthly life ended. He died on the Cross. This is a very familiar event to us but there are several points we ought to make here in order to fully understand it. First, despite the fact that he was the incarnate Son of God, it was a real death. Second, it was an agonising death, a terrible way to die. Third, it was a death which marked the end of his suffering and held open the prospect of glory ahead. Fourth, it was a death that would soon be followed by resurrection.
Pray for those organisations which distribute the Scriptures, especially the Scottish Bible Society and the Gideons. Pray that there may be open doors for God’s Word.
Thursday 17th November
We read these verses again today to notice the words of the centurion. In verse 36 we are told that the ‘soldiers mocked him’. Did this include the centurion? Most probably. Something happened, however, to change his mind. As a hardened Roman soldier, having reached the rank of centurion, he had no doubt seen many people die. Yet this death was different. We read that ‘The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man”’. Why did he praise God? How did he know that Jesus was a righteous man? We’re not told the answers to these questions but it seems that this man’s life was touched by Jesus, like the life of the thief on the Cross. Right to the end, lives were being changed through an encounter with Jesus.
Pray for The Gathering today, asking that those who come will enjoy fellowship and will be blessed by their time together.
Friday 18th November
We read in these verses of Joseph of Arimathea. We’re told that he was ‘waiting for the kingdom of God’. An expression which implies that he was a Christian. He went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body, so that he could put it in a prepared tomb. Like Nicodemus, whose meeting with Jesus is described in John 3, Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin who became a follower of Jesus. Now this man was clearly taking a major risk. The Sanhedrin and the whole Jewish leadership had conspired to put Jesus to death and here is one of their own asking for the body, to give him a decent burial. He was putting his own position as a member of the Sanhedrin at risk. Indeed, given the heightened tension surrounding these events, he was perhaps putting even his own life in danger. All this for the sake of Jesus. It is astonishing the courage that comes from faith and conviction
Pray for all the candidates for the ministry of the Church of Scotland from the Highlands and Islands, who will be meeting with the Minister at the Manse today.
Saturday 19th November
This chapter describes the fact and the aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Early on the Sunday morning, several women who were followers of Jesus went to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus, as was the custom. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James. They were surprised to find that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb where Jesus had been laid and even more surprised to find that his body was missing. Then something dramatic happens, two men ‘in clothes that gleamed like lightning’ tell them that Jesus is alive, having been raised from the dead! It is clear that the women believed Jesus had been raised. These women were among Jesus’ most faithful followers. They had been at the foot of the Cross and they were the first to believe. Do we believe in the miracle of the resurrection?
Pray for Fraser and Dawn Jackson and their children Ruth and James, in Nigeria. Continue to pray against the plans of Boko Haram. Pray for the family in the stresses and strains of life in Nigeria.
Sunday 20th November
We read these verses today to notice something else the men (angels) said to the women. They said, ‘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, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Then they remembered his words’. One of the astonishing aspects of the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus is that it took all of Jesus’ disciples and followers by complete surprise, despite the fact that he had told them on several occasions precisely what was going to happen (see, for example, Matthew 16:21). Their hopes for Jesus were earthly hopes and their understanding of him was as an earthly messiah or even a king. They did not understand that he was the Son of God come down from heaven to save them. Only afterwards, did they understand. Have we grasped that crucial truth?
Pray for Dougie Wolf as he takes the morning service and for the Minister as he takes the Raigmore service and the evening service.
Monday 21st November
The story then turns to the disciples. They were not so willing to believe as were the women. We are told that when the women came with their story, ‘they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.’ John’s Gospel fills out this story a little. Peter and John both ran to the tomb. John reached there first but did not go in. Peter arrived and went in, wondering what to make of these things. Then John went in and we are told in John 20:8 that ‘he saw and believed.’ The disciples as a group did not belief because the report sounded like nonsense. Peter and John go to see for themselves. Peter is not sure, John believes. Here we have a mixture of belief and unbelief. It would take a little time before they all believed.
Pray for the Church of Scotland Council of Assembly, meeting today in Edinburgh and pray for the Minister as he attends the meeting.
Tuesday 22nd November
Two disciples, one of whom is called Cleopas, are returning from Jerusalem to Emmaus and are discussing everything that had recently happened. On the way, they are joined by an apparent stranger, who professes ignorance of the events which have left them so downcast and gets them to tell their story. The stranger encourages them to believe what was written by the prophets, namely, that the Messiah would suffer before being glorified. By this time the two travellers had reached their destination and they invite their unknown companion to share their hospitality overnight. He agrees and when they begin to eat, the stranger gives thanks for the bread and breaks it. Recognising him in these actions, they suddenly realise that it is Jesus. Can you picture this couple in your minds? Only a week had passed since they went up to Jerusalem for the Passover. On that occasion they had almost certainly been excited, hopeful, wondering if Jesus was now going to declare his Kingdom. After the arrest and execution of Jesus, they were no doubt confused, disappointed, perhaps a little angry, almost certainly afraid. Now they were exultant again, having met the risen Jesus. What a torrent of emotions to go through in a single week!
Pray for the Trustees of Rutherford House, meeting this morning. Ask that God would give clear guidance as to the future of the work.
Wednesday 23rd November
These two disciples came to believe when ‘their eyes were opened’ (verse 31). We must not be too critical of these disciples because there is good reason to think that we would have acted in precisely the same way. Only when Jesus opened the Scriptures to them did they properly understand them. Similarly, only when their eyes were opened did they recognise Jesus. This is always the case. Even when the gospel is clearly presented and there can be no doubt as to its meaning, men and women can only come to the point of belief and faith through the work of the Holy Spirit. Becoming a Christian is a supernatural event. This is the doctrine of effectual calling. Like these disciples on the road to Emmaus, we can only come to Christ when God, by his Holy Spirit, opens our eyes and minds to see and understand.
Pray for the wider family of the congregation, especially those young people who have left for college and university or to find work. Pray that they may be faithful in their walk with the Lord.
Thursday 24th November
Having been raised from the dead, Jesus appears to his disciples. They were ‘startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost’. Jesus shows them his wounded hands and feet, the marks of his crucifixion. He also urges them to touch him since ghosts don’t have flesh and blood. They are still not convinced, so he eats some food to demonstrate that he is real. Luke says that the reason they did not believe was because of ‘joy and amazement’ and we can surely understand this. If someone we knew to be dead arrived at our door, would we believe it? Soon, however, they would not only believe but would spill out on to the streets of Jerusalem to tell everyone that the Lord was risen and to declare the Gospel.
Pray for the meeting of the Deacons’ Court tonight. Give thanks for all the work done by the Deacons, much of it unseen. Pray that they would find fulfilment in the work.
Friday 25th November
This story of Jesus appearing to his disciples is very dramatic and powerful but, in John 20:24-31, we’re told that Thomas was not with the other disciples on that Sunday evening. When they told him what had happened, he would not believe it. A week later the disciples were again in the same house and this time Thomas was with them. Jesus came into the room and confronted him, challenging him to ‘stop doubting and believe.’ This was too much for Thomas and he answered, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Then Jesus says, ‘Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Jesus is no longer walking around Galilee with his disciples and it is not possible to have physical confirmation of the resurrection. He is now at the right hand of the Father. Faith is required. Do we have that faith? Do we believe in the risen Christ?
Pray for our Sunday School teachers, Ark teachers and Youth Fellowship leaders. Pray that God will help them in their preparation and in their teaching. Pray that our young people would grow up to love and serve the Lord.
Saturday 26th November
These verses speak to us of the fulfilment of prophecy. Jesus says something very important: ‘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’. In the Old Testament, we find many prophecies which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. For example, the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14); the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10); the Messiah would be heir to King David’s throne (2 Samuel 7:12-13); a messenger would prepare the way for Messiah (Isaiah 40:3-5); the Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4); and much more. The fulfilment of these prophecies was proof to those early Jewish Christians that Jesus was the one for whom they had been waiting.
Pray for the Girls’ Brigade and for our faithful team of officers and helpers, led by Susan Mackenzie. Pray that the girls may hear and understand what they are being taught and may learn to seek, serve and follow the Lord.
Sunday 27th November
Notice that Jesus ‘opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures’. This is the same action of Jesus as we saw on 25th November, when Jesus opened the eyes of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Another example of this is found in the story of Lydia, whom Paul met outside Philippi, as described in Acts 16. There we read, ‘One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message’. It is possible for anyone who can read to pick up a Bible and start reading but true understanding and true spiritual understanding can only come when God, by his Spirit, opens our eyes and hearts and minds to understand. This understanding is not just intellectual, it involves a life-changing event.
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services today and for Ian Challinor as he takes the Raigmore service.
Monday 28th November
Having been raised from the dead, Jesus appears to his disciples, showing them his wounded hands and side, the marks of his crucifixion. Now he tells them that they are to be witnesses to the resurrection. They are going to be sent out but only after they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. In John’s version of the story, he then commissions them for service, grants them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the authority to declare the forgiveness of sins (John 20:19-23). All of this has to be understood carefully in the light of other passages of Scripture but certainly Jesus is giving them apostolic authority. They are to continue the ministry which he has begun, calling men and women to believe in Christ and assuring those who do believe that their sins are forgiven.
Pray for Dougie Wolf and his family and pray for Dolly Coventry and her family. Ask that God would help them in all that they do for the East Church.
Tuesday 29th November
Notice that they are to wait ‘until you have been clothed with power from on high’. This would happen on the Day of Pentecost. Why was this necessary? It was necessary because the work of God can only be done in the power of God’s Spirit. Left to themselves, these disciples were scared and were hiding in an upper room. After the Spirit came upon them everything changed. It is not possible to witness for Christ unless we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Human strength, human wisdom and human action will all fail. Perhaps the reason why the church often seems so weak and ineffectual today is because many are trying to do God’s work without depending upon God’s Spirit.
Pray for the Word at One service today. Give thanks for an opportunity to worship the Lord and share a meal together.
Wednesday 30th November
Jesus now takes his leave of the disciples. They go out to Bethany and he is taken up into heaven. Here in this passage is described an event which is at the heart of the Christian Faith, the Ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God the Father on high. We bear witness to this truth every time we say together the Apostles’ Creed. In a good modern translation, the Creed says, ‘He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.’ Jesus had promised that we would ascend to his Father. You will remember that, after the resurrection, he appeared to Mary in the Garden and he said this: ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ (John 20:17) A fuller description of the Ascension is found in Acts 1:9 where we read this, ‘After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.’ Christ’s work on earth would now be taken forward by the Holy Spirit, not least by working in and through the ones whom God had chosen.
Pray for our organist Jim Fraser and for those who help out with the organ when Jim is away: Myra Jerrit, Muriel McCulloch and Andrew Sutcliffe. Pray too for the Music Group and their contribution to our worship.