The day that Jesus was crucified, as Simon of Cyrene might have related it

Like other people, I’d heard some stories about the man named Jesus.
He’d done unheard-of miracles and had lived a life that was upright and clean.

So I never thought I’d arrive in Jerusalem at such a terrible time,
of seeing Him being brutally led to His own crucifixion…that was the scene.

It seemed incomprehensible that His acts of compassion
were being “rewarded” with this punishment to which He was going.

I could see that He was becoming too weak to bear the heavy cross;
He’d obviously been scourged, and blood from the stripes was flowing.

Suddenly, I was pressed into service by some of the Roman soldiers.
I was ordered to carry His cross, in His stead, as His strength was depleted.

Had He done something criminal that I hadn’t heard of in His recent past?
I didn’t know, but the mocking and reviling were being repeated.

Of course, I didn’t appreciate being singled out for such a despicable task.
It seemed obvious to me that I’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But something in the eyes of this Jesus, who staggered beside me,
reflected kindness; and I sensed something noble or majestic—nothing of crime.

After reaching the destination, I couldn’t bear to watch the proceedings.
If He’d been wrongly accused, there was nothing I could have done to stop the event.

So I left; but, later, darkness came over the land, and an earthquake caused tombs to open. Some people were reported as having been raised from the dead after the temple curtain was rent.

After all that had happened, a centurion and other guards declared that, truly, Jesus was the Son of God. Perhaps my unchosen role in this—being singled out—had, instead, been a divine appointment.

A great many people were recipients of Jesus’ ministry, and believed that He was who He said He was. That day lives large in my memory; and His disciples are saying that His Name is God’s healing and saving ointment.

P. A. Oltrogge

One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, regarding a man made well by the name of Jesus, spoke to the rulers, elders, and scribes gathered in Jerusalem:

“…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:10-12 NASB

Outpourings of Love

…from Luke 7:36-50
(likely in Capernaum)

A certain woman of the city heard that Jesus was at the home of Simon, a Pharisee. So she came with an alabaster flask of ointment–her sins had weighed her down very heavily. Her tears washed Jesus’ feet, which she kissed and wiped with her hair–then anointed them with the oil–all tokens of the love she had come there to share.

Simon’s thought was that Jesus should have known that she was a woman to shun. If Jesus was truly a prophet, he would not have permitted her because of the things she’d done. Jesus then told him a story of two debtors, freely forgiven of debts of lesser and greater amounts. It was an explanation to Simon of a sinner’s gratefulness–her debt of sin was large (and, therefore, so was her love) by all counts.

Jesus expressed appreciation for her kisses and for the tears that she had shed. “Your sins are forgiven” and “Your faith has saved you; go in peace,” He said. Those who sat at the table with Him began to discuss that, saying “Who is this?” His forgiveness of her sins was an authoritative statement they really couldn’t dismiss.

…from John 12:1-8
(in Bethany at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary)

In a second narrative, six days before Passover, the scriptures tell of Mary–
who used spikenard, a costly oil–the fragrance of which, the entire house would carry. After supper, there in Bethany, she anointed Jesus’ feet, also wiping them with her hair. Judas then asked why the oil hadn’t been sold and the money been given to the poor–not that he actually did care.

Jesus told Judas to let her alone for she had kept the oil for His burial day.
“For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always,” was what He had to say.

…from Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9
(in Bethany)

A similar occurrence at the house of Simon the leper, Matthew and Mark record,
was that of a woman who took spikenard, pouring it, this time, upon the head of Jesus, her Lord. There were some who, like Judas, criticized her, saying that the oil might have been sold for the poor. But Jesus said she had done this for His burial, speaking of her with grace, and that in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she would forever have a place.

Today, God is pouring out His love and the Holy Spirit upon each open heart.
May we fill our own “alabaster jars,” with love for Him, and eagerly do our part. There’s a world of people Jesus died for, and many are in great need. Guide and strengthen us, Lord, as we seek to be Your servants, caring with both word and deed.

We thank You for Your great sacrifice; we thank You for Your steadfast love.
We appreciate so much what it cost You to visit us from heaven above.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”
Matthew 25:40 (and verses 31-46)

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 KJV

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Passing Through

God had parted the night clouds and, there, ever so bright,
was a beautiful, full moon seen through my bedroom window one night.

It was actually almost morning when it came into view;
and it made me think of how God’s power and love also break through.

There are “clouds” or “deep waters” in life that can often overwhelm,
unless we look to Jesus Christ as being at our life’s “helm.”

So think of your life’s “sailship” as strong through any “night,”
for He’s on board to part deep waters and is your ever-guiding Light.

P. A. Oltrogge

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…
For I am the !ord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior….”
Isaiah 43:2, 3 NKJV

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” John 8:12 NKJV

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photo by Porch of the Lord

The Promise of God’s Enduring Mercy

These days, it seems that we’re sailing through a very turbulent sea,
and no one knows how long the storm may last from which we need to break free.

But it’s GOD’S MERCY that endures forever, and His steadfast love will never fail. Remember Emmanuel, God is with us, and His mercy endures through any stormy gale.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23 KJV

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 RSV

“Then he (Jesus) arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39 NKJV

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 NKJV

“(Thanksgiving to the Lord for His Great Works of Deliverance) Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 107:1 NKJV

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let Israel now say,
‘His mercy endures forever.’
Let the house of Aaron now say,
‘His mercy endures forever.’
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
‘His mercy endures forever.'”
Psalm 118:1-4 NKJV

Thanksgiving to God for His Enduring Mercy

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
For His mercy endures forever:

To Him who alone does great wonders,
For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who made great lights,
For His mercy endures forever—

The sun to rule by day,
For His mercy endures forever;

The moon and stars to rule by night,
For His mercy endures forever.

To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn,
For His mercy endures forever;

And brought out Israel from among them,
For His mercy endures forever;

With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm,
For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who divided the Red Sea in two,
For His mercy endures forever;

And made Israel pass through the midst of it,
For His mercy endures forever;

But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea,
For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who led His people through the wilderness,
For His mercy endures forever;

To Him who struck down great kings,
For His mercy endures forever;

And slew famous kings,
For His mercy endures forever—

Sihon king of the Amorites,
For His mercy endures forever;

And Og king of Bashan,
For His mercy endures forever—

And gave their land as a heritage,
For His mercy endures forever;

A heritage to Israel His servant,
For His mercy endures forever.

Who remembered us in our lowly state,
For His mercy endures forever;

And rescued us from our enemies,
For His mercy endures forever;

Who gives food to all flesh,
For His mercy endures forever.

Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
For His mercy endures forever.”

Psalm 136:1-26 NKJV

There’s Still Light in Goshen

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The Lord was working out a major plan to set free–the captive Hebrew people of old. There would be ten plagues, so the actions of Moses and Aaron would need to be brave and bold.

When they came before Pharaoh, they had commands from the Lord on what to say or do, to warn him of, or initiate, every plague that his nation was soon to go through.

The ninth plague of darkness was so severe that the Egyptians couldn’t get around. For three days, the darkness was “felt” and thick, in the air and on the ground.

One of Egypt’s chief deities was the sun “god,” so such darkness proved the Lord’s might, to prevail over any of the “gods” of the Egyptians. Only His power could end the dark night.

But the Hebrews were under God’s protection; and, in the midst of that constant night, there was light in Goshen in their dwellings because God was in charge of their fight.

Today, people experience darkness, not of God and not a kind where you can’t visibly see, but darkness in their minds when they’ve not recognized “the door,” through which anyone’s able to go free.

Jesus pointed the way, saying, “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” You can experience “Goshen” through God’s Son yet today, and you’ll have all of the light that you’ll need.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt. So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exodus 10:21-23

“If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 KJV

“Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.’” John 8:12

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill, and destroy: I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.’” John 10:9-10

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV

A Paralytic and Four Faithful Friends

Jesus had been back to Capernaum for some days, and the news of this became known. Many people gathered at the house to hear Him speak, and the crowd had really grown. In fact, there were so many who wanted to come inside that you couldn’t get near the door. But there was a paralytic, with four friends who had a goal–to hear Jesus say, “Restore!”

So fervent were they in their earnest goal, that though it didn’t seem possible to get through, they weren’t downcast, but instead looked up–gaining entrance through the roof was what they’d do. Their faith in the Lord, their tenacity to attain, moved them to hoist their friend and his pallet up. They made a rooftop hole and let him down to the Lord–it didn’t matter to them to interrupt.

Jesus, seeing their faith, immediately was moved. “Son, your sins are forgiven,” He then said. This prompted thoughts in some scribes who were there, that He was blasphemous and clearly misled. Jesus knew in His spirit the things they were reasoning and confronted them before they could talk. He asked which was easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”?

But so that they would know He really did have this authority, He further went on to say–that the man who’d been paralyzed should get up and take his pallet and be free to go on his way. Immediately, the man arose and picked up his pallet and walked out in the sight of all who were there. The people were amazed and glorified God, saying they’d never seen anything like this anywhere.

After that, Jesus went out to the shore of the sea, which can bring to mind the “waves” of God’s grace. The people followed Jesus to the shore, as well, and He continued to teach them at that place. A fitting scene it was to conclude this narrative, for God’s grace does come in wave upon wave. If a problem seems insurmountable, look up, not down–He’ll help you, just be bold and be brave.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.”
Psalm 43:5

“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33

Scriptures NKJV
From the Biblical account in Mark 2:1-13

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Washed with the Word and the Living Water

It’s emphasized that frequent washing of hands will bolster our protection.
A friend said that while she does so, she makes the Lord’s prayer her focus and reflection.

“Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name,” begins the prayer.
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”–there’s no virus there.

Then, the prayer continues regarding daily bread and our sins that He’d forgive. It includes forgiving others, guarding against temptation, and being delivered from the evil of the world in which we live.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.”
It doesn’t take too long to say this prayer with every hand-washing endeavor.

If rushed for time, even a portion of the Lord’s prayer can be one’s thought.
As you wash your hands, think of His peace and use the prayer that Jesus taught.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth.” John 17:17

“He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38 NKJV

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV

The Our Father or The Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6,
quotes from KJV

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Shut In

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
James 5;16-18 NKJV

As we join in prayer regarding the current crisis and praise God for His coming parting of the Red Sea, so to speak, (as one example), we might consider a few more Biblical accounts where God’s people were shut in:

We read in Genesis about the great flood–Noah and his family survived in an ark for many nights and days. As a preacher of righteousness, he must have warned others to turn to God; but the people didn’t change their ways. He had been obedient to God in building the ark, in anticipation of the coming flood. Today, there’s an “Ark” into which anyone can enter, through repentance and by faith in Jesus’ blood.

Moses had gone before the Egyptian Pharaoh, saying that God wanted the Israelites to be released. But Pharaoh still hadn’t complied with “Let My people go,” so the plagues over Egypt hadn’t ceased. Therefore, a final plague of death transpired–a heavy blow to Egypt in the midst of the night. But the blood of an unblemished lamb, applied around their doors, kept God’s people safe inside until the morning light.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were cast into a furnace that was ablaze. That came about because they wouldn’t bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol, in order to give it praise. Their faith in God to deliver created an amazing scene, whereby the king saw that they’d become unbound. And there was a fourth “Man” with them in the fire, with whom they were walking around. They came out of the furnace unharmed, their bodies and clothes were unaffected. Then Nebuchadnezzar revered their God, who had kept them so miraculously protected.

Daniel worshiped the Lord God only, and for doing so, was cast into a lions’ den. In refusing to comply with Darius’s rule, he was obeying God, rather than obeying men. That den would have been a place, in which, anyone shut in should have died. But God sent His angel to shut the lions’ mouths, for He was on this worshiper’s side!

Lazarus died and was shut inside of a tomb, but his resurrection caused the Lord to be glorified. And Jesus’ own resurrection from death and the tomb proclaimed God’s Good News that is being spread worldwide!

Paul and Silas were shut inside of a prison–praise to God was their only weapon of choice. Then God sent an earthquake to set them free, because they had chosen, wisely, to rejoice! They went from being jailed to being guests in the jailer’s home and recipients of his care. The jailer had become their brother in Christ–what an answer to their praises and prayer!

So being shut in, in these Biblical accounts, brought about some great and mighty things. If we find we’re shut in, ourselves, today, let’s expect to see the good from God that it brings.

P. A. Oltrogge

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

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Thomas’s Moment of Doubt

When Jesus had risen from the dead, His first appearance was to Mary Magdalene. On the evening of the same day, where the disciples were gathered, He came again upon the scene.

“Peace be with you,” He shared with them, showing them His hands and side.
“As the Father has sent Me, I also send you,” was the immediate instruction from their beloved Master, teacher, and guide.

He breathed on them, saying to receive the Holy Spirit, and that He was sending them out to declare…the forgiveness of sins through His shed blood for all with whom they would ultimately share.

Thomas hadn’t been present at that wonderful moment, so only later, was he told. His fellow disciples were saying that they, too, had seen the Lord–but Thomas’s reaction to this was cold.

“Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, Jesus again appeared to the disciples; but this time, Thomas was there. Again, Jesus greeted them with His peace but turned to Thomas with words of faith that He began to share.

“Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Of course, Thomas declared, “My Lord and my God!” He now believed with every fiber of his being. Yet Jesus wanted him (and us) to understand that believing is seeing!

Jesus said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Lord, may this teaching of Yours on faith, and faith in You, be one that’s wholeheartedly received.

Some people today, too, have doubts that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead actually took place. But be blessed to believe, as Jesus said, in the miracle of His resurrection–the unmerited gift to us of God’s love and grace.

P. A. Oltrogge

(Based on the account in John 20)

“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:30-31 NKJV