Do you realize that Jesus was a willing substitute in order that we could be saved?

45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” –from Mark 10

He left heaven and came to the earth in the form of a baby, going thru the same pains and challenges of life that we do, and then after just a few years of ministry, He gave up His life on the cross willingly in order that we could be saved by receiving that gift. Have you received that gift? Have you made the decision to receive and follow Jesus?

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. –from John 3

He came to fulfill God’s plan and purpose, He knew the pain and the suffering that was about to happen while He was in the garden and the stress of the situation was causing Him to sweat blood. He wondered if there was any other way to complete the work, but this was the only way and He was willing to take on the weight of the world in order that we could be saved!

Your Loving Substitute — Day 115: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 51:1-9, Luke 22:63-71, Luke 23:1-25, Joshua 8, Joshua 9:1-15

  1. My sin … Psalm 51:1-9

1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  –from Psalm 51

Today’s devotional calls out some key points from today’s reading that was triggered when David was challenged by the sins he had performed related to Bathsheba…

To whom do you pray?

This prayer for God’s mercy and forgiveness is rooted in David’s understanding of God’s character. He prays, ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion’ (v.1).

What do you confess?

David confesses his iniquity (v.2), transgressions (vv.1b,3a) and his sin (vv.2b,3b). He says, ‘Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me’ (v.5). This prayer is in response to a specific sin, but David recognises there is a deeper problem as well. Sin is not just an occasional act. It is something deeply ingrained within all human beings from our very earliest moments.

God desires truth ‘in the inner parts’ and ‘in the inmost place’ (v.6). He wants you to be honest, open and real with him about yourself and your sins.

What do you ask for?

David cries out for mercy. Ask to be washed: ‘Soak out my sins in your laundry’ (v.2a, MSG). Ask for cleansing: ‘Cleanse me from my sin’ (v.2b), ‘cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean’ (v.7a). Ask for your sins to be wiped out: ‘wipe out my bad record’ (v.1c, MSG), ‘blot out all my iniquity’ (v.9b).

Pray that your sin will be completely removed, so that God will not see any sin: ‘Hide your face from my sins’ (v.9a).

What will the result be?

David says, ‘Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice’ (v.8). There is nothing like the joy, gladness and rejoicing that follow total forgiveness. David knew that God, in his mercy, love and compassion, would forgive. What he did not see clearly, and what only the New Testament reveals to the full, is how God made that possible.

–from Day 115: Bible In One Year 2017

2. Jesus’ sacrifice … Luke 22:63-23:25

63The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65And they said many other insulting things to him.

Jesus Before Pilate and Herod

66At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67“If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You say that I am.”
71Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

–from Luke 22

1Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
3So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
4Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
5But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
6On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
8When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
13Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, “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. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” 17Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested.
18But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19(Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
20Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
23But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

–from Luke 23

Today’s devotional speaks to us Jesus’ purpose of dying in order to save us…

What did Jesus endure for you?

Jesus was mocked (22:63; 23:11), beaten (22:63), insulted (v.65), falsely accused (23:10), ridiculed (v.11) and eventually crucified (v.23). Luke sums it up with the chilling words that Pilate ‘surrendered Jesus to their will’ (v.25).

Who was responsible?

Luke makes it clear that everyone is responsible. The council, chief priests, teachers of the law (22:66), the whole assembly (23:1) and Herod and Pilate (22:66 – 23:25) all played their part. (The death of Jesus was what made Herod and Pilate friends – ‘as thick as thieves’ (v.12, MSG) – before that, they had been enemies. Sharing a common enemy can bring strange bedfellows together!) Luke says the chief priests, rulers and people (v.13) were of one mind: ‘With one voice they cried’ (v.18). We cannot blame the Jews or the Romans or anyone else. Ultimately, we are all responsible.

Who is it that died in your place?

This was not some innocent ‘third party’ whom God punished instead of us. Rather, God himself came in the person of his son Jesus to die for you and me. God was doing what was completely unexpected. The Jews hoped for a messiah and saviour, but no one imagined it would be God himself.

The New Testament church, filled with the Holy Spirit, came to realise just who Jesus is. We see the uniqueness of Jesus in the titles he used of himself.

He is the Son of Man. The Son of Man who will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God (22:69) is clearly used here by Jesus as a messianic title.

He is Christ the King (23:2) – the ‘king of the Jews’ (v.3) – the long awaited Messiah.

Most remarkably of all, he is the Son of God: When they asked, ‘“Are you then the Son of God?” [Jesus] replied, “You are right in saying I am”’ (22:70). It seems likely that Jesus was actually using the name of God here (‘I AM’) – a direct claim that Jesus is God – which may be why the elders are so angered by his response (v.71).

What is substitution?

The innocent dies instead of the guilty. Jesus is innocent; we are guilty.

Even Pilate, who condemned him to death, said, ‘I find no basis for a charge against this man’ (23:4). Again he repeats, ‘I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him… he has done nothing to deserve death’ (vv.14–15). A third time he says, ‘What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty’ (v.22). Luke makes it clear that Jesus died precisely because he was the innocent son of God (22:70–71).

On the other hand, Barabbas, like us, was guilty. In his case, Barabbas was guilty of insurrection and murder (23:19,25). Luke hints at substitution: ‘Away with this man [Jesus]! Release Barabbas to us!’ (v.18). ‘He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will’ (v.25).

–from Day 115: Bible In One Year 2017

3. God’s sovereignty … Joshua 8:1-9:15

Ai Destroyed

1Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. 2You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”
3So Joshua and the whole army moved out to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best fighting men and sent them out at night 4with these orders: “Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from it. All of you be on the alert. 5I and all those with me will advance on the city, and when the men come out against us, as they did before, we will flee from them. 6They will pursue us until we have lured them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are running away from us as they did before.’ So when we flee from them, 7you are to rise up from ambush and take the city. The Lord your God will give it into your hand. 8When you have taken the city, set it on fire. Do what the Lord has commanded. See to it; you have my orders.”
9Then Joshua sent them off, and they went to the place of ambush and lay in wait between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai—but Joshua spent that night with the people.
10Early the next morning Joshua mustered his army, and he and the leaders of Israel marched before them to Ai. 11The entire force that was with him marched up and approached the city and arrived in front of it. They set up camp north of Ai, with the valley between them and the city. 12Joshua had taken about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13So the soldiers took up their positions—with the main camp to the north of the city and the ambush to the west of it. That night Joshua went into the valley.
14When the king of Ai saw this, he and all the men of the city hurried out early in the morning to meet Israel in battle at a certain place overlooking the Arabah. But he did not know that an ambush had been set against him behind the city. 15Joshua and all Israel let themselves be driven back before them, and they fled toward the wilderness. 16All the men of Ai were called to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were lured away from the city. 17Not a man remained in Ai or Bethel who did not go after Israel. They left the city open and went in pursuit of Israel.
18Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.” So Joshua held out toward the city the javelin that was in his hand. 19As soon as he did this, the men in the ambush rose quickly from their position and rushed forward. They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire.
20The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising up into the sky, but they had no chance to escape in any direction; the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the wilderness had turned back against their pursuers. 21For when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that smoke was going up from it, they turned around and attacked the men of Ai. 22Those in the ambush also came out of the city against them, so that they were caught in the middle, with Israelites on both sides. Israel cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives. 23But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
24When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. 25Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. 26For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai. 27But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.
28So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. 29He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.

The Covenant Renewed at Mount Ebal

30Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, 31as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses—an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses. 33All the Israelites, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Both the foreigners living among them and the native-born were there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.
34Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.

–from Joshua 8

1Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)— 2they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.
3However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”
7The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?”
8“We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.
But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”
9They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. 11And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.” ’ 12This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”
14The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. 15Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

–from Joshua 9

Today’s devotional speaks to God’s plan for us.

God has a purpose for your life. He is in control of the universe. He is able to take even bad things you have done or have been done to you and turn them for good (Romans 8:28).

In this passage, we see an example of this. The people of God had failed in the past to take the city of Ai (Joshua 7:4). Now God uses their past failure as part of the victory plan (8:6–7). Sometimes God uses even your past sins and mistakes for good (although this is not an excuse for repeating them, as Israel did by not asking God about the Gibeonites, 9:14).

Supremely, of course, God turned the sinfulness and the failures of humanity that led to the crucifixion of Jesus into the greatest victory of all time. The cross was not a mistake. It was part of God’s sovereign purpose to make possible our forgiveness and the cleansing, washing and covering of our sins through Jesus’ death on the cross for us. God is a God of love. ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us’ (1 John 3:16).

–from Day 115: Bible In One Year 2017

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. –from Romans 8

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. –from 1 John 3:16


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