September 8—Read Luke 16
In this chapter, we have the parable of the wicked servant who shrewdly uses his master’s money to make others indebted to him, so that they will help him after the master throws him out. Two of the main questions that come to mind after reading this parable are why does Jesus tell us to make friends of the unrighteous mammon, and why is the wicked thief an example to us?
Rev. Lanning answered these important questions for us in a sermon on the chapter. Mammon here refers, not to men themselves, but to the money that is the object of man’s worship. Therefore, when Jesus says to make friends of the unrighteous mammon, he is telling us to take all that God has given us and use it to glorify his name and for the cause of the kingdom. The wicked servant is an example to us, not because of his stealing, but because of his single-minded purpose. We must have the one goal of glorifying God and focusing on the kingdom of heaven. The wicked are very good at focusing on their one goal of glorifying man, and we must have that same laser-focus on God.
Sing or pray Psalter #308.
September 9—Read Luke 17
In Luke 17:7–10, Jesus compares our relationship to God by describing a slave who works hard all day and comes in dead tired at supper time, only to have his boss command him to get his supper before he eats himself. The slave is expected to obey at once without praise or thanks. The point here is that we are unprofitable servants, even if we do everything that’s required of us. This was even true of Adam before the fall. He obeyed perfectly, but deserved no thanks from God, because he was only performing what was required of him, nothing extra.
Rev. Ron Hanko says this truth must be brought to people who believe in a covenant of works. Those who hold to the Federal Vision, for example, believe we can lose our salvation when we don’t obey God’s word. If perfect Adam was still an unprofitable servant and could do nothing to merit with God, then who are we to think we may be able to? Although it makes no sense, this error is so appealing to the pride of our sinful nature, that, as Martin Luther said, it’s almost impossible to get out.
Sing or pray Psalter #284.
September 10—Read John 11
Yesterday, we mentioned the Federal Vision in connection with the truth that we are unprofitable servants. Today, we see that false doctrine refuted again in a sermon by Rev. Nathan Langerak covering the story of Lazarus’ resurrection. Rev. Langerak explains that the believer lives immortality, meaning there is no sin we can commit by which we lose our life. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have been resurrected unto eternal life, and that promise can never be taken away from us. We all experience hardships in this life, but alongside all that, we always have the joy of the forgiveness of sins. We have the promise that our true home is in heaven. Mary and Martha didn’t fully understand that heaven was their real hope. Why would they want their brother to come back to this life of sin when death for the believer is merely the passage into eternal life?
I’d like to end with a thought question today. Since death is the realization of our heavenly goal, why did Jesus raise people from the dead? Doesn’t that sound cruel? What do you think?
Sing or pray Psalter #238.
September 11—Read Luke 18
Prof. Gritters preached a sermon entitled “The Justification of Sinners” on Luke 18:9–14 and Lord’s Day 23. In this sermon, he clearly explained what justification is and what it does. Justification is the blessing of God from which all the other blessings flow. Justification is our standing before God just as if we’d obeyed perfectly. We can’t justify ourselves, although we often try. Those who are justified receive and experience the removal of guilt and the imputation of righteousness by faith. God doesn’t make us righteous by giving us good works so that we don’t sin anymore, but he imputes it to us so that we stand before God as one who’s innocent. Our legal standing is different. It’s not like a blood transfusion, but a verdict. We’re sinners who will keep on sinning, but we’ve been declared to be righteous. We are perfect from the point of view of justification, because that’s how God sees us. This is what the publican experienced, and it must be our experience as well.
Sing or pray Psalter #111.
September 12—Read Matthew 19
In preparation for this devotional, I listened to a 1987 sermon by Rev. Kortering on Matthew 19:6, 9. He explains that there were two schools of Jewish thought at Jesus’ time regarding Moses’ teaching on divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1–4 (please read this). Many claimed anything that was found undesirable in the wife was reason for divorce, while others said it was only allowed if the wife had committed some kind of sexual sin other than adultery (since she would have been put to death for that). Jesus makes it clear here that both schools of thought are wrong. Moses wasn’t telling the Israelites to give their wives bills of divorcement in Deuteronomy 24; he was merely presenting them with a situation. The husbands were told they couldn’t take back their wives after divorcing them, because God was teaching them the consequences of their sin. Jesus’ words make it clear that divorce is a separation, not a dissolution of the marriage bond. For one, why would remarriage be outlawed if the bond had been broken? Even when divorce becomes necessary, the marriage bond is still intact, because “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Sing or pray Psalter #292.
September 13—Read Mark 10
Prof. Cammenga preached about the healing of blind Bartimaeus, recorded here at the end of this chapter. Bartimaeus, who is a picture of us spiritually, pleaded to Jesus for mercy, demonstrating the apostasy of the church at that time. They had stopped caring for the poor as God had commanded them. A church’s care for its poor gives you a good indication of the spirituality of the congregation. Bartimaeus not only cried out to Jesus, but he was also very persistent in his crying. Jesus ignored him at first, but he wasn’t offended. Instead, he showed faith by calling Jesus his Lord. When Jesus finally acknowledged Bartimaeus and his companion, he asked them what they wanted. This was done to impress upon the man the desperate nature of his condition, and to cause him to give a public testimony of that great need. Bartimaeus asked that his eyesight be restored, not his sins forgiven, because he already enjoyed the forgiveness of sins, and he knew that the Jesus who granted the one would grant the other. Blind Bartimaeus wanted his eyesight restored so he could see the Jesus on whom he believed.
Sing or pray Psalter #400.
September 14—Read Matthew 20
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be great in the church, preached Prof. Decker. In fact, 1 Timothy 3:1 speaks favorably of men who desire the office of a bishop. This greatness, however, has nothing to do with exercising authority. We must aspire to true greatness, which is defined strictly in terms of service to one’s fellow believers. This definition creates a sharp contrast between greatness in the world and greatness in the church, a truth that Salome needed to understand in Matthew 20. Being great in the church is not prestigious. The minister exists for the sake of the church, not the church for the minister. Prof. Decker shared the wonderful advice given to him by Rev. Vos, back when he was first getting into the ministry. This great aging man in the church said the best advice he could give Decker was to be humble from the heart and allow God’s people to then bear him up. May we all pray for humility that we serve each other and allow them to care for us in return.
Sing or pray Psalter #298.
September 15—Read Matthew 21
Reading about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a colt made me think of a book that was recently brought to my attention, entitled Wild at Heart, by John Eldridge. This book, which was published back in 2001, remains one of the most popular books on Christian living and has sold over 4 million copies in the US alone. The book teaches that God is a wild, unpredictable, risk-taking deity, and man is created in his image to be the same. Man, says Eldridge, needs to stop beating himself up and living a lie and become the wild and free being that God has called him to be.
This portrayal of God and leaders in the church is in complete opposition to what we read in Matthew 20 and 21. Yesterday, we learned that being great in the church means serving others, not living for self and throwing off our responsibilities. Today, we see Jesus’ extreme meekness as he rides into Jerusalem. The king of heaven and earth made it clear he was NOT the kind of manly man the world would flock after. He was a servant, and that’s what we must be as well.
Sing or pray Psalter #47.
September 16—Read Luke 19
Prof. Hanko took time in a sermon on Luke 19:1–10 to explain that the Puritans didn’t understand that we come to the table of the Lord confessing we’re lost. They made a distinction between the law and the gospel. According to the Puritans, you hear the preaching of the law, come to conviction of your sin, realize you are lost, use common grace to allow you to be persuaded to close with Christ, and then complete that closing when you hear the gospel preached. In other words, those who are lost are able to find their own way out. They just need to realize they’re lost by hearing the law preached to them, and then they are ready to accept Christ. The power is in man’s hands. He chooses Christ; Christ doesn’t choose him.
That’s not what we read in Luke 19. Zacchaeus didn’t approach Jesus first. Jesus confronted him. Zacchaeus didn’t invite Jesus to his house, Jesus told him he was coming. Zacchaeus didn’t accept Jesus into his heart, Jesus gave him a new heart through his death on the cross.
Sing or pray Psalter #66.
September 17—Read Mark 11
Rev. Eriks helps you imagine you were there in his sermon about Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. I had never really thought about this before, but the noise in the temple must have been horrific and deafening. The place would have smelled like a stockyard or fair. Still, this scene might have seemed practical and helpful at first glance. After all, the people needed to exchange their money, and many would rather buy their sacrifice animals there than haul them on the long journey. However, the Jewish leaders were taking advantage of the people by charging a high price for the exchange of currency and selling sacrificial animals for inflated prices. The focus was no longer about worshipping God, but about making money.
This sin is prevalent in the church today as well. Many religious leaders get rich off their followers by convincing these poor people that they are doing God’s work when they donate them money. Church discipline goes out the window in an attempt to make this life as pleasurable as possible. We must never fail into the trap of dead orthodoxy, but live out the truth that has been written in our hearts by Christ’s blood.
Sing or pray Psalter #94.
September 18—Read John 12
Rev. Haak sets the scene for us in a preparatory sermon on the first part of this chapter. Martha was serving, as she always was. Lazarus, who knew he had been dead and now was alive, sat at the table with Jesus. Mary came and washed Jesus’ feet. They all had different ways of expressing their love for Jesus. Jesus loved them too and sought their fellowship as the wrath of God started to come on him. We too should seek the fellowship of our godly friends when we are going through trials.
Risen Lazarus is a picture of us as we come to the Lord’s Supper. We were dead and rotting in sins, but now we sit at the Lord’s table as those who have been resurrected.
Rev. Haak also points out that Jesus is the host having Lazarus to his table, even though it’s Lazarus’ house. This happens again when Jesus eats with the travelers to Emmaus. This teaches us that, although we might have built the table and the church it sits in, they are the Lord’s. Everything belongs to him.
Sing or pray Psalter #129.
September 19—Read Matthew 22
There were a few things that stood out to me regarding the law in a sermon by Rev. Regnerus on this chapter and Lord’s Day 2. The law of God is a code of conduct that God demands of his people. God didn’t have to contemplate what laws to give us, because his laws reveal himself. Therefore, the law is covenantal. It’s given to God’s people and separates them from the world. The goal of the law is for God’s people to live in covenantal fellowship with him. Wicked man is utterly foolish for rejecting this law. As we will discuss tomorrow, the main focus of the law is loving God. This command is followed up with one to love our neighbor as ourselves. Those prone to hating the neighbor are good at perceiving evils have been committed against them. Rev. Regnerus said one of the worst ways we can show hatred for the neighbor is by showing indifference towards them, not caring if they go to heaven on hell. Let us flee from this sin and obey the command of the law to love God and the neighbor.
Sing or pray Psalter #131.
September 20—Read Mark 12
The Pharisees loved to debate God’s laws. In this chapter, they pose Jesus with one of the questions they debated about: What is the greatest commandment of all? As with all their questions, the Pharisees sought to trap Jesus here, because there were hundreds of laws to chose from. As Rev. Guichelaar points out, by answering, Jesus would be sure to anger at least one faction of the Pharisees. By choosing one as the greatest, Jesus could then be accused of being soft on others.
However, instead of playing their game, Jesus explained that by asking their question they demonstrated they were missing the entire point of the law. The Pharisees wanted to put all the focus on the external show, instead of obeying from the heart in love. Therefore, the greatest of all commandments is not something outward like giving a certain amount to the poor or only taking so many steps on the sabbath, but it’s the inward command to love God as he has loved us. By nature we’re full of hatred, but that sinful nature was crucified with Christ, and our new heart is full of love for the one who’s saved us from death.
Sing or pray Psalter #403.
September 21—Read Matthew 23
Matthew 23:12 reads, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” The Pharisees of Jesus’ day loved to exalt themselves, sitting in the highest seats and bestowing grand titles upon themselves. Rev. Slopsema brought out how ironic man’s exaltation of himself is because if anyone has reason to be humble, it’s fallen man. The Pharisees loved to twist things around and make a big show out of their supposed humility. Others love to wallow in their unworthiness to gain advantage, but, in Christ, we are valuable, and it’s a false humility to say otherwise. Rev. Slopsema recalls a man the church was in contact with for a while who acted extremely humble, but they soon discovered he was the only one able to interpret the Bible in his group, and he was really leading a cult. True humility is seeing who you are and understanding that we have only a small beginning of the new obedience. May we humble ourselves before God, so that he doesn’t have to teach us humility.
Sing or pray Psalter #141.
September 22—Read Luke 20
Here the Sadducees bring a ridiculous situation to Jesus in which a woman married seven brothers in order to trap him by asking whose wife she’d be in heaven. By this question, the Sadducees were attempting to prove heaven didn’t exist. They believed the soul died with the body, and there is no reward or punishment after this life. Jesus preaches to them that he is the God of the living, not the dead.
Rev. Slopsema, whose sermon is interestingly the only one by our ministers on Sermon Audio for this chapter, points to several verses that illustrate this. In John 11: 25 and 26, Jesus raised Lazarus to show the truth that he’s the God of the living. In Luke 16:19–26, we have the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, where Lazarus is seen in heaven in Abraham’s bosom. In Philippians 1:21, Paul said that he desired to be with Christ and to die was gain, but he knew he was needed in the church. Scripture’s emphasis regarding heaven is that there we will see Christ, not that we will see our family members again. We will all fully experience being part of the same spiritual family.
Sing or pray Psalter #246.
September 23—Read Luke 21
I listened to a sermon from a series Rev. Rodney Kleyn did on personal finance in preparation for this devotional. The texts for this sermon were 1 Chronicles 29, Proverbs 3:9 & 10, and Luke 21:1–4. In 1 Chronicles 29, David knows Solomon is going to build the temple, so he and the people give for that cause. David thanks the Lord that he could witness the people’s willingness, and he prays that the people be given a right attitude toward the things God has given them. We must remember all things belong to God and give to the work of the Lord. In Proverbs 3:9 and 3:10, we’re commanded to honor the Lord with our first fruits. We must give right away, not only if we decide we have enough after everything else has been paid for. Finally, in Luke 21:1–4, Jesus talks about the widow who gave two mites. The Pharisees gave much more, but she gave all the money she had, while they wouldn’t even notice the difference. This manifests to us that we should all give proportionately according to what God has given us, and poverty isn’t an excuse for not giving.
Sing or pray Psalter #113.
September 24—Read Mark 13
In Mark 13:34–37, Jesus tells his disciples a parable about a master who goes on a long journey and tells his slaves to take care of the place while he’s gone. The slaves must do their work diligently and be ready for the master to return at any moment, because they don’t know when that will be. As Rev. Bruinsma points out, the summary of the parable is the command to watch.
As you probably already know, Jesus is talking here about his second coming. Christ’s journey started when he ascended. While he sits at God’s right hand preparing a place for us, he commands us to live a life of godliness and holiness. At the appointed time he will return in the night. This is significant, because nighttime is when we’re asleep. Christ will return when things are spiritually dark. The world will have completely given itself over to sin and darkness. Even the church will be lulled into sleep to a certain degree, as demonstrated from the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which we will examine in a couple of days. We must realize the perilous times we live in and take up the calling to watch!
Sing or pray Psalter #120.
September 25—Read Matthew 24
Prof. Cammenga spoke at an evangelism lecture covering the Olivet Discourse, which is Jesus’ answers to his disciples in Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The focus of this lecture was understanding postmillennialism and preterism. Postmillennialism says the church will gradually bring the entire world under the rule of Christ. Christians will control every facet of society. Preterism is derived from the Latin word meaning “past.” This teaches that the prophecies have already been fulfilled, because they were all speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Within this faction are two schools of thought: some say there’s no other coming of Jesus Christ to look to, while others say most of the prophecies have been fulfilled but there are a few that speak of a future return. These two ideas are inseparably connected. Post–mills use preterism to explain away passages like Matthew 24, saying it’s already been fulfilled. It’s true that the destruction of Jerusalem was a fulfillment of this passage, but it wasn’t the fulfillment. These false teachings play right into the hands of Satan because there’s a kingdom coming that will bring world peace for a short time and be very powerful.
Sing or pray Psalter #122.
September 26—Read Matthew 25
“Watching and Waiting as In the Days of Noah” was the theme of this year’s Young People’s Convention. Before the convention, Rev. Norman preached a handful of sermons on the topic, since his church was co–hosting the event. He started by explaining the difference between betrothal and engagement. During Jesus’ time, a couple would be betrothed by their parents for a relatively short time before their marriage, during which they were already regarded as married. In this parable, the end of the betrothal has come, and the bride and her attendants are waiting for the groom to come. It was customary for the bride to wait for the groom to come bring her to the wedding feast when he was ready.
This parable has a lot to teach us. It reminds us that we are married to Christ, although the marriage hasn’t been consummated yet. We are waiting for the return of our bridegroom, and we need wisdom in order to watch properly. Oil symbolizes God’s word and the Holy Spirit, without which we will not be prepared. Those who don’t have this oil are foolish. Do we have oil in our lamps?
Sing or pray Psalter #192.
September 27—Read Matthew 26
A number of the sermons I listened to on the chapters for this month’s devotionals were about the Lord’s Supper. This one was preached by Rev. Smit. He began by instructing us to come to the Lord’s table with humility and reverence, contemplating how Jesus suffered unjustly and alone for our sakes. He who knew no sin was made sin for us, which is expressed in Galatians 3:13. It’s amazing to think about the fact that the eternal, living God in the flesh became a dead man. He did this to save his people and destroy the world that raged against him, as we read in Psalm 2. We must remember Christ’s words, “It is finished,” and not think that anything must be added to what he did for us. This thinking would lead us to despair, and we must be careful not to head down that path. Through the preaching, Christ comes to us and declares his perfect death on the cross. The Lord puts the bread and wine in our hands and tells us to look away from ourselves. We look at, touch, and taste the bread and wine and remember what Christ did for us personally.
Sing or pray Psalter #174.
September 28—Read Mark 14
Christ is truly present in the Lord’s Supper. That was the thrust of a sermon by Rev. Smidstra on this passage. The Lord’s Supper is a feast of covenant fellowship because of Christ’s presence, as explained in Lord’s Day 29. The question isn’t whether Christ is present, but how is he present at the table? In other words, how do the signs of the Lord’s Supper relate to the things they point to? First of all, the signs do not turn into the body and blood of Christ, as the Roman Catholics teach. This idea goes against the very definition of a sacrament, for they are visible signs and seals of invisible grace. How can a sign of grace turn into grace itself? However, although we don’t physically eat Christ at the Lord’s Supper, there is still a very real connection between the two. There is a real, spiritual presence of Christ at the communion table. We say, “the cup is the communion of the body of Christ,” because he’s there with us. Understanding this real, spiritual presence, we can enjoy real, spiritual partaking.
Sing or pray Psalter #180.
September 29—Read Luke 22
One important question that Rev. Laning addressed in a sermon on Luke 22:47–53 and parallel passages was, “What does it mean that Jesus was bound to free us from our sins?” First, it means that he has taken away the burden of our guilt. Can you imagine how guilty the disciples must have felt about running from Jesus at the time of his greatest affliction? We all have guilt for the sins we commit throughout our whole life. If that burden had not been lifted by Jesus it would crush us. Similarly, it means that we are not enslaved to sin, but are free to do what God calls us to do. The world loves to talk about freedom in terms of fulfilling every lust of the flesh, but that’s bondage. The Jews thought they could use swords against the man who just raised someone from the dead, even after he makes them all fall on their backs. That’s the bondage and folly that Jesus has saved us from. In contrast, true freedom is having the burden of sin lifted off your back, so you can sing forth praise to God for all his wonderful mercies.
Sing or pray Psalter #170.
September 30—Read John 13
In John 13:1, we read that Jesus loved his disciples “unto the end.” Rev. Huizinga used this as the theme for a sermon, in which he explained how important it is for us to know our Savior loved us unto the end. Talk of love is cheap. It’s easy to say, “I love you,” but it’s hard to truly mean it. Sometimes the false love of a spouse, parent, friend, or child can wax cold, but that never happens with God’s love. To love is to delight in another as precious and dear, giving yourself for their highest good. This is exactly what Jesus did for us. Jesus demonstrated this love here by washing his disciples’ feet. This humiliation was a tiny sign of how humiliating it was for him to take all our sins upon himself.
Rev. Huizinga went on to further examine the word “end”. This word can mean termination, but also goal. That’s why Jesus didn’t stop those who took him and why he didn’t come down from the cross. That was his goal. What is our goal? What is our end? Are we ready to die to self for the one we love?
Sing or pray Psalter #90.
October 1—Read John 14
John 14:2 reads, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Rev. Barnhill preached about this place that Jesus goes to prepare for us. He says that the word “mansions” in the text can better be translated as “dwelling places” or “rooms.” Heaven isn’t literally a house like our houses, but the image helps us understand—just like the house is large and spacious, so there will be plenty of room for all God’s people in heaven. It’s a house, not a tent, meaning it’s permanent. A house is a place of fellowship, just as heaven is. We will enjoy perfect communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ, the angels, and the triune God forever. When we move to a new place, it can take a while to adjust, but that will not be true with heaven. There we will immediately know we are in our true home. Jesus prepares this place for us there by his death, resurrection, and ascension, his intercession, and his working in us. He will come again to gently and tenderly receive us unto himself.
Sing or pray Psalter #91.
October 2—Read John 15
“Objections of Justification by Faith Answered” was the theme of a sermon by Rev. Decker on this chapter and Lord’s Day 24. This Lord’s Day addresses three false teachings regarding good works. The first is that our good works contribute to our righteousness. There’s part of us that want our works to have power in salvation. We like to think things like, I’m glad I’m not him or her, or I’m better than those people because I go to a true church. However, it’s all or nothing with God. He does it all; we don’t contribute anything. The second false teaching is our reward implies merit. It’s true that we are rewarded for our good works, but it’s a reward of grace. Our best works are full of sin, and the good works God rewards are his work in and through us. Finally, there is the idea that justification by faith alone leads to a profane life. It’s impossible to be truly implanted into Jesus Christ without his life showing itself in our lives here. In our new man, we want to obey him out of thankfulness for what he has done for us.
Sing or pray Psalter #172.
October 3—Read John 16
Interestingly, Prof. Dykstra used this chapter as his text for a sermon on the Lord’s Supper and the different positions regarding it, stating that it reminds us that Jesus is with us spiritually by his Holy Spirit in the sacrament. The first of these views is the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation, which says that Christ is physically present in the elements of the Lord’s Supper. When we eat the bread, we are actually eating Christ’s flesh. Closely connected to this is Luther’s strange teaching of consubstantiation. This view says that the body and blood of Christ are present physically alongside the elements in the Lord’s Supper. Third, we have the Zwinglian view and that of the Anabaptists today, which says that Christ isn’t present at all in the sacrament. It’s simply used to commemorate Christ’s death, like the 4th of July commemorates the start of our country. In contrast, the Reformed view says that Christ is present spiritually in the Lord’s Supper, and by it we are brought closer to him in covenant fellowship and “are as really partakers of his true body and blood” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 29).
Sing or pray Psalter #337.
October 4—Read John 17
The Trinity is clearly displayed in John 17, as preached by Prof. Kuiper. In this sermon, he immediately established the importance of this doctrine. There are at least three confessional indications that the Trinity is foundational to the Christian faith. The Apostle’s Creed is structured after it, the Heidelberg Catechism begins its explanation of the Christian faith by starting with the Trinity, and the Athanasian Creed has a very long explanation of this doctrine. The Trinity is so foundational because it distinguishes the Christian religion from all others. It also sets the basis for the saving work our God performs in Jesus Christ and is the source of the covenant. In fact, it’s only because God is triune that he can be the Savior. How could God recreate sinners without the satisfying of his justice? Man had to pay for man’s sins, but only God can atone for sin, so the second person of the Trinity had to sustain God the Father’s wrath. Now the Holy Spirit continues to work in the church to draw us closer and closer to God.
Sing or pray Psalter #228.
October 5—Read Matthew 27
Prof. Gritters preached about the fascinating account of graves opening and saints appearing to many after Jesus’ resurrection. There are so many unanswered questions we have when considering this event, but this points us to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. Although the very earth beneath our feet may fall away, the things of God can never be shaken.
Prof. Gritters also brought out the antithetical elements of the sign. Just as the cross of Christ is salvation to some and judgment to others, so too with the raising and appearing of the saints. It’s important to note that all those who were raised were holy, signifying that the resurrection blessings of Christ are only for those who are holy. Negatively, the wicked Jews buried Jesus and stamped down the earth hard, so to speak, to get rid of him and his miracles. Well, they thought they had problems before, but now dead men are appearing to people all over the city and giving testimony of this Jesus! He is risen!
Sing or pray Psalter #404.
October 6—Read Mark 15
Quite a few years ago, there was a movie that came out entitled The Passion of the Christ, which dramatized the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. This movie was extremely popular, and some churches even set up viewing parties. Rev. Haak addressed this movie in a message for The Reformed Witness Hour, making it clear that the film is blasphemy and distorts the gospel of Christ. For one, huge amounts of profit were made over Christ crucified. The movie also makes Mary a co-mediator with Christ and is idolatry. They use a sinful man to portray the holy God. No camera could record the wrath that was poured out upon Christ during the three hours of darkness. The true passion of Christ shows us that God takes sin seriously and that our only hope is found in Christ crucified. There’s nothing we can do that takes away our sin. In addition, preaching is an effective way to teach us about Christ’s suffering and death. Paul also had to deal with people wanting drama that aimed at their emotions, but the preaching must be enough. It’s the wonderful means by which we are taught all that he’s done for us.
Sing or pray Psalter #387.
October 7—Read Luke 23
Luke 23:12 tells us that Pilate and Herod became friends at Jesus’ death. They had not been friends before, since they were rivals, and rulers back then would often kill their family members to keep them from taking over. Back in Luke 13:1, we read that Pilate massacred the Galilean Jews at the temple, which would have made Herod very angry, since those were the people he ruled over. Despite this, their shared hatred for Jesus led these two men to become friends.
Rev. Huizinga connected this with what will happen in the end times. All the nations of the world will unite under the antichrist. It will be an amazing time of world peace, but a fragile peace founded purely on hatred for God and his church. Still, even this wicked kingdom, which will nearly extinguish the church on this earth, is nothing but a tool in God’s hands. He used the friendship of wicked men as an instrument to bring Jesus to the cross, and he will use their wicked friendship again at the last day to bring about the return of his Son on the clouds of glory.
Sing or pray Psalter #388.
Originally published in September 2019 Vol 78 No 9