"The place which is called Calvary."
The hill of comfort is the hill of Calvary; the house of consolation is built with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly blessing is founded upon the riven rock--riven by the spear which pierced his side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary's tragedy.
"Is it not strange, the darkest hour
That ever dawned on sinful earth,
Should touch the heart with softer power,
For comfort, than an angel's mirth?
That to the Cross the mourner's eye should turn,
Sooner than where the stars of Bethlehem burn?"
Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace hath dug a fountain which ever gusheth with waters pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind. You who have had your seasons of conflict, will confess that it was not at Olivet that you ever found comfort, not on the hill of Sinai, nor on Tabor; but Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha have been a means of comfort to you. The bitter herbs of Gethsemane have often taken away the bitters of your life; the scourge of Gabbatha has often scourged away your cares, and the groans of Calvary have put all other groans to flight. Thus Calvary yields us comfort rare and rich. We never should have known Christ's love in all its heights and depths if he had not died; nor could we guess the Father's deep affection if he had not given his Son to die. The common mercies we enjoy all sing of love, just as the sea-shell, when we put it to our ears, whispers of the deep sea whence it came; but if we desire to hear the ocean itself, we must not look at every-day blessings, but at the transactions of the crucifixion. He who would know love, let him retire to Calvary and see the Man of sorrows die.
"For there stood by me this night the angel of God."
Tempest and long darkness, coupled with imminent risk of shipwreck, had brought the crew of the vessel into a sad case; one man alone among them remained perfectly calm, and by his word the rest were reassured. Paul was the only man who had heart enough to say, "Sirs, be of good cheer." There were veteran Roman legionaries on board, and brave old mariners, and yet their poor Jewish prisoner had more spirit than they all. He had a secret Friend who kept his courage up. The Lord Jesus despatched a heavenly messenger to whisper words of consolation in the ear of his faithful servant; therefore he wore a shining countenance, and spake like a man at ease.
If we fear the Lord, we may look for timely interpositions when our case is at its worst. Angels are not kept from us by storms, or hindered by darkness. Seraphs think it no humiliation to visit the poorest of the heavenly family. If angel's visits are few and far between at ordinary times, they shall be frequent in our nights of tempest and tossing. Friends may drop from us when we are under pressure, but our intercourse with the inhabitants of the angelic world shall be more abundant; and in the strength of love-words, brought to us from the throne by the way of Jacob's ladder, we shall be strong to do exploits. Dear reader, is this an hour of distress with you? then ask for peculiar help. Jesus is the angel of the covenant, and if his presence be now earnestly sought, it will not be denied. What that presence brings in heart-cheer those remember who, like Paul, have had the angel of God standing by them in a night of storm, when anchors would no longer hold, and rocks were nigh.
"O angel of my God, be near,
Amid the darkness hush my fear;
Loud roars the wild tempestuous sea,
Thy presence, Lord, shall comfort me."
Today's reading: 1 Samuel 15-16, Luke 10:25-42 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: 1 Samuel 15-16
The LORD Rejects Saul as King
1 Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys....'"
Today's New Testament reading: Luke 10:25-42
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27 He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead....
Monday: Luke 13-14
Tuesday: Luke 15-16
Wednesday: Luke 17-18
Thursday: Luke 19-20
Friday: Luke 21-22
Saturday: Luke 23-24
Have a blessed Sunday!
ONLY GOD COULD
[Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation–if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. (Colossians 1:17-23)
Anselm, writing in the eleventh century, raised a question: why did God become man? This is the enigma of Christ. His answer went like this: only man should pay the penalty for his sin (because sin is, after all, a mess that human beings have made), but only God could. A prophet dying on a cross would at most be a martyr and a model. But if Jesus Christ was really human, and also divine, his sacrifice had a human face on it, but it is a divine offering.
That is why a passage like Colossians 1 is so important. It speaks both of the person of Christ, and his work on our behalf. Regarding his person, “he is the image of the invisible God,” and “by him all things were created,” and “all God’s fullness” dwelt in Jesus.
And so, because of who he was, he was able to reconcile to God all things “by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
On that most violent of all days in human history, God was reaching out to those who were alienated from him and at enmity with him. He offered us reconciliation so we could end up “holy in his sight, without blemish, and free from accusation.” Only God could do that.
Ponder This: What is something about yourself that you know only God could change?