Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’ death’

A. An unnamed woman’s actions: 3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

B. Concern for the poor: 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.”

C. Rebuke: And they scolded her.

C.1 Rebuke: 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone.”

B.1 Concern for the poor:Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.

A.1 An unnamed woman’s actions: 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”


This story is placed between the telling of how Jesus will die – the leaders (14:1-2) working with Judas 14:10-11). Jesus’ death is the theme of it all.

B and B1 both have a question – “why” which focuses on whether the ointment was wasted or not, and a “for” statement that focuses on the poor.

Verse 7 has a chiastic arrangement:

a. For you always have the poor with you,

b. and whenever you want, you can do good for them.

a1. But you will not always have me.”

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(Lord’s supper devotional)

We are celebrating the Lord’s supper today. And certainly a part of what we are doing is remembering Jesus’ love for us. And that’s because we see his love displayed before us in the bread and cup – a picture of his death on the cross for us.

So as we partake today let’s think a bit more about his love for us. I would like to highlight three things in particular this morning. And I will speak in personal terms.

 1. He loved me, though I did not deserve it

I did nothing to be worthy of his love. I had no claim on him that he had to love me so. Rather, I have shown time and again, that apart from God I am rebellious against God. That is, I want to do things my own way, have control of my own life. And I am also self-centered when it comes to other people. Me first, and others second, if at all. I may not have displayed this very openly, but that was also for my own self-centered reasons.

The fact is that through my words and actions, I have made myself thoroughly unlovable. All of my twisted rebelliousness and self-centeredness made me abhorrent to Jesus, because he is exactly the opposite of these things. He is the picture of love and submission to God and love for others. But I must surely have repelled and disgusted him.

Yet, despite all this, Jesus still cared about me. Jesus still loved me! Indeed, I can say, as Paul does in Galatians 2:20, he “loved me and gave himself for me.” He loved me, though I did not deserve it.

 2. He loved me with actions, not just words

He loved me with deeds, not just inner intentions in his heart, or thoughts in his head.

He saw me in all of my need; my sin and my brokenness. And he did not sit far away, in his place of glory with the Father and say, “Oh sure, I love you. I see your need from here and I’m definitely thinking about you.” He came and he acted for me. He saw me as the revolting, disgusting mess that I was – and he came to help me anyway. He demonstrated his love for me, with real life actions in this world where I live.

3. He loved me sacrificially

When he came – he gave up so very much to help me in my need.

  • He laid aside his glory, which he had from the beginning of time
  • He lowered himself to become a human
  • He humbled himself to serve others
  • He bore the cross – the torture, the injustice, the pain, the shame
  • He died on the cross

And he did all this for me. He loved me sacrificially. Jesus held nothing back.

Do you know this love? It’s there for you too, even though you don’t deserve it. He has acted to help you with your need coming to you. And he has done so sacrificially. He truly does love you. But you need to receive this love. Will you receive his love?

Now the Lord’s supper is not just an encouragement that yes, Jesus loves us. If that’s all it is we could just have the broken bread and the cup up here and look at it. We could put it in a display.

But no. He said of the bread, “take and eat.” He said of the cup, “drink from it all of you.” We are to take this love, his love into us, so that we can then love others, as Jesus has loved us. In other words, the Lord’s supper is also a call for us to embody Jesus’ love for others. This is the challenge of Jesus’ love. To receive it is to commit to give it.

1. We are to love those who don’t deserve it

At times we can be pretty good at loving those we like, and those who are nice to us; those who are like us and don’t bother us.

But Jesus calls us to love precisely those who are not lovable to us. As he said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Matthew 5:44. Just like Jesus loved us when we were unlovable, he calls us to love those that we find unlovable – who disgust us. We are to give them the same love that he gave to us

2. We are to love others with deeds, not just words

After talking about Jesus’ love for us, and how he came and died for us, John says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” – 1 John 3:18.

Just like Jesus loved us with actions, we are to love others with real deeds, coming to them to help them with their need, where they live. We are to give the same love to them that Jesus gave to us.

3. We are to love others sacrificially

In the same passage, John says this about Jesus’ love, “by this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” But then he goes on, “and we ought to lay down our lives for the sisters and the brothers. . . ..” – 1 John 3:16. You see the message – he laid down his life for us, we are to lay down our lives for others.

And love is not always easy. The phrase, “laying down your life” means sacrifice. And we need to love not just when it is convenient, or when we get something out of it.

Just as Jesus loved us sacrificially, we are to love others sacrificially. We are to give the same love that he gave to us, to others.

So as you partake today be encouraged by Jesus’ love for you. And as you take in his love receive the challenge, and recommit to give this same love to others.

William Higgins

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Lord’s Supper Devotional

We are celebrating the Lord’s supper today. And as we do we see a picture of Jesus’ death: the bread is broken and the cup is poured out. This is a representation to us of how his body was broken and his blood was poured out on the cross.

So as we remember Jesus’ death this morning I want us to focus in on a question – ‘Where would I be if Jesus hadn’t died for me?’ or ‘Where would you be if Jesus hadn’t died for you?’

For some of us, this is kind of hard – at least to be specific. For instance I began walking with the Lord when I was 14 – that’s when I was baptized and really began to take God seriously. What would my life have been like without this?

Others of us lived long enough in sin to have good idea of what our life would be like without Jesus. So perhaps it’s a bit easier.

This is how we will go about it. First I want us to look at Paul’s life before Christ. Then I want to say a few words about myself. And finally I will invite you to share briefly as well on the question – ‘Where would I be if Jesus hadn’t died for me?’


Paul was a proud Israelite, a religious scholar and a devoted zealot for the cause of Judaism. In Philippians 3:5-6 he speaks of how he was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless.”

In Galatians 1:13-14 he said, “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.”

We see in these verses that he was a person of exquisite credentials with regard to Judaism. He was zealous, so much so that since he felt Jewish Christians were apostates to Judaism he persecuted them. And he was righteous, at least according to one standard.

But even with all this, his credentials, zeal and right behavior, he was going in the wrong direction. So wrong in fact that he found himself opposing God. He was sinning against God.

In 1 Timothy 1:13 he says, “. . . formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” This is now looking back at his life from God’s point of view. And then in v. 15  he says, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” And I believe he is specifically talking about himself.

Just like so many people today, he was successful and hard working – but he was working toward the wrong goal.

Without Jesus’ love and death for him he would still have been in this life – zealously going in the wrong direction; fighting God. But Jesus took him and made him an apostle among apostles – and one who did a great work for God.


Let me say a few words about my own life. If Jesus hadn’t died for me I would still be under the guilt and shame of all my evil deeds. Carrying around this burden or living in denial. I was not a particularly “bad” person outwardly, but I was under the sway of that twisted self-centeredness that all of us are born with, that leads us to sin.

If it wasn’t for Jesus I would be stuck in the brokenness of my flesh; stuck with all of my weaknesses. The Spirit of God wouldn’t have come into my heart and changed me and help me to be different. A specific example would be anger. I was angry  growing up – ready to fight with anyone verbally or otherwise

If Jesus hadn’t died for me, I wouldn’t know God. I wouldn’t have a relationship with God. I don’t know what life would be like without being able to come to God in prayer; without God speaking to me, comforting me and helping me.

If it weren’t for Jesus I would have no hope for the future; that is for a life beyond this one where what God always intended for us will actually come to pass. And not the suffering and evil of this world.

If Jesus’ hadn’t given his life for me, I wouldn’t have a sense of life direction and purpose. This is a big one for me. For instance, if it wasn’t for Jesus calling me, I wouldn’t be up in front of people all the time. If you think I am shy now, you should have seen me before. If I didn’t think this was God’s will, and that God wouldn’t help me, I wouldn’t do it.

Also, if it wasn’t for Jesus, I would never have gone through the schooling that I did – college, seminary and graduate school. I was an average student in high school. I didn’t really care about school. But I did all this, more than I thought I could, because I felt that Jesus wanted me to.

And also, if it wasn’t for Jesus I would not have moved all over the country following after his calling on my life.

I have purpose now. I know what my life is about. And it brings be contentment and joy. And it has eternal value. Without Jesus I wouldn’t have any of this.


And now I invite you to share – ‘Where would you be if Jesus hadn’t died for you?’

William Higgins

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We are bringing our series on ‘How to overcome sin in our lives’ to a close today. Our focus has been on how to get rid of our sinful behaviors and habits which enslave us and keep us from experiencing all that God has for us.

And the message has been that there is freedom in Jesus! We can overcome. We can be fee. We can walk in the fullness that God has for us.

I have been sharing all of this with you so that you won’t sin. It is very much like what John says to his readers in 1 John 2:1, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But then he goes on to address the reality of failure. He says, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” – 1 John 2:1-2. (NRSV)

If you do fail and fall into sin, John teaches us that Jesus can help. He died for our sins, so that we can be made right with God. And he is our advocate before God, seeking out God’s mercy for us; interceding for us.

But we also need to do something in order to receive what Jesus provides for us; to experience restoration and renewal. So today we look at –

What you must do

– when you fail and fall into sin.

1. Be honest. Our natural human response is to hide our sins and live in denial. Or if we can’t do that we find excuses for our sins, or we deflect attention away from our failure by focusing on the faults of others. We all see this kind of stuff a lot.

But a true mark of repentance is honesty. You must be absolutely honest with yourself first of all. Because without this you can’t make any progress in Christian faithfulness. And then you must be honest with God and others.

Proverbs 28:13 says, “No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Honest confession leads to mercy.

2. Take responsibility for your actions. This means that you own your actions; they are yours. You don’t shift the blame to other people or circumstances or whatever. You are accountable.

After committing terrible sins, David prayed, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me . . . you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.” – Psalm 51:3-4. He’s saying, ‘I did it. And whatever negative consequences come my way are my fault. Because I’m the one who did wrong.’

We see the same thing in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son. When he came back and wanted to make things right with his father, he said, “Treat me as one of your hired servants” – Luke 15:19. He was ready to live there as a servant. He knew there were consequences for his actions. And he had squandered his share of the family estate.

Now, his father – in love and grace – accepted him back as a son, not a servant. But notice, he still lost all that he had, for all the rest that the father had was the elder son’s now, and that would not change.

So there are negative consequences that come on you when you sin. You reap what you sow. And you need to take responsibility for all this, because it’s a result of your actions.

3. Express your sorrow. When we fail and fall into sin, we cause God and others pain. And when we realize this it should cause us to be sorrowful. We should feel it, and have regret.

After James calls his readers to repentance he says, “Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection” – James 4:9. (NRSV) Paul calls this “godly grief” in 2 Corinthians 7:10, which is a part of the process of repentance.

4. Stop the behavior. There is no healing with God or others if you don’t turn from your sin.

You know the person who wants mercy, mercy, forgiveness, forgiveness – but doesn’t want to change anything in their life. This isn’t repentance. It’s manipulation.

If you have failed, what you must do is resolve never to do this sin again, and to do everything necessary to make this happen. All the things we have been talking about in this series.

Proverbs 28:13 says, “he who . . . forsakes his transgressions will obtain mercy.” Ezekiel 18:30-32 says, “Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. . . Turn then, and live.” When you stop the wrong behavior, then you can receive “mercy” from God and others; you can “live.” When you don’t, “iniquity will be your ruin.”

5. Ask God to forgive you. Ask God for mercy to pardon you. And this is the time to be truly honest with God, taking responsibility, expressing your sorrow and committing to stop the wrong.

Pray like the tax collector in Jesus’ story, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” – Luke 18:13. Or you can pray from the Lord’s prayer and personalize it – “Forgive (me) us (my) our sins” – Luke 11:4.

God’s promise to us is this: “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – 1 John 1:9. And we can hold on to this promise knowing that God will keep his word to us – to forgive, to cleanse and to renew us.

6. Seek reconciliation with others. If your sin involved hurting others, a part of dealing with it is that you seek to make things right with them as best you can. Again this is the time to be honest, to take responsibility, to express your sorrow and to commit to stop the wrongdoing.

Jesus said, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your sister or brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24 (NRSV). Prioritize making things right with the one you have wronged, even over worship of God. First go and be reconciled to your brother or sister; seek forgiveness. Restore the relationship damaged by your actions.

Now also, if you have harmed someone in a way that can be restored, make amends. The example of Zacchaeus’ repentance speaks to this. He was a wealthy tax collector who was despised because he made his profit off charging more taxes than were necessary. When he repented he said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” – Luke 19:8. He tried to make things right. He made amends. And he is an example to us.

What should you do when you fail?

1. Be honest

2. Take responsibility for your actions

3. Express your sorrow

4. Stop the behavior

5. Ask God to forgive you

6. Seek reconciliation with others

This is how you get back on track. Not giving up because you have failed. Not wallowing in despair. But repenting in all these ways. And then moving forward with what God’s will is for your life.

Psalm 51 (1-4; 7-12; 16-17)

I want would like to end with a prayer of repentance from David in Psalm 51. He knew how to repent and we can learn from him.

L: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

P: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

L: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

P: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

L: Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

P: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

L: For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

All: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

William Higgins

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Here is the teaching from the Good Friday service – Jesus’ Death in Psalm 22:1-18


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We have entered the season of Advent. This is a time when we look forward to our celebration of the birth of Jesus and his coming to earth.

What I would like for us to think about for Advent this year, is the amazing way in which the coming of Jesus was foretold, foreshadowed and prophetically pointed to so many centuries before he came.

And today, in connection with our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, I would like for us to look at some of these Old Testament texts that focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection.

These are important Scriptures because, the idea of the Messiah dying and being raised from the dead was not something that was generally expected. Even Jesus’ own disciples didn’t know what to think of all this when it happened. But yet it was there to be seen for the one with eyes to see.


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