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He is not here, for He has risen.” (Matthew 28:6, New American Standard Bible)
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, NASB)
For a unique period of human history, Jesus — God in human flesh — dwelt among us as a man. Being eternally God, when he came to earth, he became fully human as well. Because he is both God and man, he can be in heaven seated at the right hand of the Father and also be everywhere else at once.
Jesus is rightly called Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
He took on flesh to live with us, die for us, and be raised from the dead, leading the way for us to follow.
His presence, power and authority are not merely confined to upper rooms, open fields or sandy seasides. Jesus is in every home, workplace and recreational space as He accompanies His faithful followers into all spheres of life. He is especially with and among His children. He is here with you.
As a follower of Jesus, you can have confidence through His resurrection that your sins are forgiven. Everything Jesus promised in His teachings you can trust to be true. You are a child of God, you will live forever with Him and your life on earth will be transformed as you continually entrust Him with it.
Jesus promised that the result of a close relationship with Him is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, New Living Translation). These traits that He exhibits through you enable you to be an inviting and effective ambassador of His wherever you go. He is with you always, the senior partner in an ongoing quest to change the world, one life at a time.
Thank God that He wants to go through life with you, and ask Him what the first change you need to make is to experience life closer to Him.
Rejoice in the amazing grace we remember on Resurrection Sunday, which promises we can dwell with God, and He with us, for eternity.
Lent – Day 40 From Death To Life
With You in the Dark
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5
The first Holy Saturday experience for Jesus’ followers was colored in dark tones and painted with despair. After witnessing Jesus’ death on the cross and burial in stone, His followers were left without their teacher, their healer or their hope.
They were without the One who spoke words of eternal life. Without the One who turned their lives right-side up. Without the One they intended to follow the rest of their lives.
A deafening “without” echoed on that mournful Saturday.
If you’ve lived long enough, you’ve experienced dark moments when you’ve felt alone. When the power of death felt present in your life. When you’ve been without. Easter Saturday reminds us of God’s power to turn “without” into “with.”
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reminds them of the death they once knew — full of overwhelming passions, unsatisfying desires and destructive cravings. These are dark sentences ending in wrath. But Paul tells them that in the face of this darkness and despair, God made them alive with Christ.
How did God do this for them? How does He do it for you?
Instead of leaving you alone in your darkness and despair, He enters into that pain to be with you. The cross on Friday and the grave on Saturday were the lengths to which God was willing to go to take your sin and death upon Himself.
He came to be with you in your darkness so you can be with Him in His life. By His grace, you do not have to remain in this Saturday despair, but you can live with Him in His new Sunday life.
The good news of the Easter story is that God made a way for you to be alive with Christ.
If you’re like me, the word “with” has never sounded so good.
How are you experiencing the darkness and death of Saturday in your life right now?
What would it look like to ask Jesus to be with you in those dark places so you can experience life with Him? If you’ve never experienced the love and grace of God, take time to read more about Knowing God Personally.
Lent – Day 39
The Torn Veil of Victory
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:50-51
Reading the phrase “the veil was torn in two” in 2022 doesn’t hold as much weight as it did in Jesus’ time. What comes to mind when you picture a veil? Possibly a bride? So, why would a veil have anything to do with Jesus dying on the cross?
In fact, this moment was monumental, and there is more to it than you may be able to see from your twenty-first-century perspective.
The temple was where God chose to make His home with His people. Within the temple, behind a heavy curtain (called a veil) was the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest could enter this sacred space, and only after following elaborate instructions for purification.
The ripping of the veil at Jesus’ death represents something profound. Jesus offered the final sacrifice for purification — Himself. The moment that looked like ultimate defeat, Jesus’ death, was actually ultimate victory because of what His death (and resurrection) accomplished.
The violent tearing of the curtain represents both Jesus’ gruesome death and sacrifice for our sin, as well as the removal of the barrier between people and God. Now that the curtain was left ripped and open, sinful people could enter into God’s presence. With sin taken out of the equation through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, all people could finally come freely into fellowship with God (see Hebrews 10:19-22).
The moment you confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you step into an eternal relationship with Him. No longer does the temple hold the presence of God, but His presence lives in you. As the Holy Spirit empowers you over time, you will experience Christ’s redemptive work in every area of your life.
Reflect and Pray
Read the full account of Jesus’ death on the cross in Matthew 27:45-55.
Also read Hebrews 10:19-22. What is one way your life is different because Christ tore the temple veil in two?
Consider this prayer: “Jesus, I’m amazed by Your wondrous mercy and love. Clear my mind and help me to focus on You. Thank You for giving your life in my place and for opening the way for me to have a restored relationship with You forever.”
Lent – Day 38
Where You Look Matters
Peter said to Him, “Even if I must die with You, I will not deny You!” And all the disciples said the same.” Matthew 26:35
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” Matthew 26:69-70
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. … When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. John 21:4, 7
Hours before Jesus’ death, Peter adamantly stated that he’d never leave Jesus. But in His darkest hour, Peter did.
Let me ask you a question: Where do you think Peter was looking at that moment?
Peter no longer had his eyes set on his friend, whom he said he would never deny. Peter’s eyes were shifting to the aggressive crowds on his left and on his right. I imagine Peter was afraid that he’d receive the same fate as his Lord. So he responded, “No, I don’t know Him!” His heart broke when he realized what he’d done.
But after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter took a fishing trip. When Peter heard that it was the Lord on the beach cooking breakfast, he didn’t even wait for the boat to dock. He dove into the water, looking straight ahead to Jesus. I imagine he had in mind the love, grace and forgiving nature of his friend. Now, Peter was running to Him alone.
Where you look matters.
If you want to grow into a faithful leader like Peter, you too must learn to keep looking at Jesus, even during fearful times. You can do this by making a daily habit of reading Scripture and talking to Him through prayer. As Peter would later say, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3, NIV).
So, where are you looking today? How can you fix your eyes on Jesus?
One of the primary ways you can focus on Jesus is through studying His Word. It can be a challenge to consistently do this, so you need to be intentional.
Before moving on, read the full account of Peter’s denial of Jesus in Matthew 26:69-75 and his joyful reunion in John 21:1-20.
Open your calendar and block out 15-30 minutes each day to help you keep your eyes on Jesus this week.