The Death of Christ

 Luke 23:44-46

“And there was darkness…”

Surely to have stood before the grotesque execution of the Roman cross would have been bad enough, but to stand before it as you watch the one you knew to be the Messiah take His final breaths… is hard to imagine. Some biblical scholars debate what actually occurred in verses 44 and 45 with some stating that the darkness was caused by a Divinely timed, and yet naturally occurring solar eclipse, and others suggest that a supernatural occurrence caused the darkness. Certainly a great mystery surrounds those events, and we may never know the full extent of them until we stand with Him in Heaven, but to understand the words in a poetic sense is, in my opinion, necessary.[1] Darkness fell. Spiritual darkness fell. Even the light of sun failed. Hope had seemed to vanish. For 3 hours from about noon to 3 p.m., the world seemed as if it would be crushed by the weight of this darkness. Death is significant, even to the God of the Universe.[2] When we lose ones we love, the full weight of their passing can seem to roll over us in waves until we experience that darkness too. Thankfully, however, the darkness did not last. In the text we are told it only lasted 3 hours. There is no coincidence that the darkness lasted only 3 hours and Christ remained in the grave only 3 days… Know this: there will be darkness, but thank God, in Christ, it will never last!
Question: When was the last time you felt this type of darkness? What did you do in those moments?

“Torn in two…”

Herod’s Temple was a magnificent structure. The building of this temple began around 20 B.C. and took years to complete. It stood as the epicenter of Jewish worship and fundamentally shaped the understanding of how humans interacted with God. This was most clearly seen within the temple walls where a massive curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The only engagement that happened within the Most Holy Place was on the Day of Atonement, once a year, when the High Priest entered in to offer incense and a blood sacrifice on behalf of the people. Besides the High Priest, no one entered. No one even looked inside. No one was worthy. This, then, must be the significance of the curtain being torn in two: The atonement was perfectly satisfied in Christ by His death. All could see and enter into the Most Holy Place. Christ, as our High Priest[3] had gone in and done what no other High Priest could do: He brought His own blood and the incense of His own righteousness behind the veil.  And having done so, He removed the need for the curtain. Imagine the shock of the people as they witnessed this… Imagine their curiosity to peek inside and see something that they should never have been allowed to see… The most wonderful thing is that Christ does not just invite us to peek, but to fully enter in! We are allowed not only to view, but also to rest totally with Him in that Most Holy Place!


Q: Knowing that Christ has given us full access to that Holy Place, how do you boldly enter in?

“Into Your hands…”

King David sang a song a long time ago: “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”[4] It is likely in saying this before His death, Jesus was teaching yet another fundamental truth: our refuge in God is strong. He is in control, even when something as weighty as death stares us in the face. Our spirits belong to God, and our posture should emulate Christ as each of us pray daily, “Father, into your hands do I commit my spirit.” Everything that makes up what we call “our lives” should be committed to the faithful hands of the One who is our refuge and salvation. What is even more interesting is that even as death grasped for Jesus, He proved He was in absolute control, as He did not succumb to it until He had said that final statement…


Q: What in your life feels as if it outside of your control? Do you believe the lie that it is outside of God’s control too? Looking at David’s posture in Psalm 31, Jesus’s posture here in Luke 23, and even Stephen’s posture in Acts 7, what are you doing to emulate that?



Final thought…


We fight death so hard. Whether it be our desire to leave a legacy, to build riches, or just to not die too soon. We fight it so hard and we forget how willing Christ was to die for us, and how He calls us to have the same willingness to die for Him and for our neighbors.



[1] Amos 8:9-10

[2] Psalm 116:15

[3] Hebrews 4:14-16

[4] Psalm 31:1-5





FRIDAY Devotion

Peter’s Denial

Luke 22:31-34

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

Imagine being told that Satan has requested to “sift you like wheat”. It was probably a rather confusing statement to Peter. In the midst of the alarming information from Jesus, Peter answers with what seems to be a noble response. A response of bravery, loyalty, and grit. However, we see in scripture that Peter’s courageous claim of loyalty fell flat on its face.


READ Luke 22:54-62

You see, Peter’s claim seemed great on the outside, but when the opportunity to stand loyal to Jesus came, he denied him. Not once, not twice, but three times. This is because Peter’s promise to go with Jesus to death was based in self-confidence and pride, but when the enemy attacked, he failed miserably. How often does our allegiance to Christ fail because we rely on our own ability to endure temptation when the enemy attacks? Peter failed miserably, and there is no doubt about it. However, this isn’t the last we hear of Peter in scripture. Really, it is just the beginning. Scripture tells us that in his first sermon three thousand people came to faith! (Acts 2)


In a story that seems to end in failure from Peter, every believer can find hope. In Luke 22:31, Jesus informs Peter of what Satan had requested to do. Then in verse 34, He correctly predicts the event that would very soon take place. However, Jesus was not put off by Peter’s denial. Instead, He said He had prayed for Peter and that his faith would not fail (verse 32). In Peter’s failure, every believer can see Jesus’s faithfulness and grace. It was truly Jesus prayer that allowed for Peter’s repentance and restoration that led to his great ministry after Christ’s death. Peter’s story ended in victory because of the work of Christ. It wasn’t because of Peter’s zeal or might that his faith didn’t fail completely, but because of the prayer of Christ and his faithfulness to Peter. This is true of every believer. Although we fail again and again, we can stand righteous before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords because of the work of Christ on the cross. Just like Peter, many times we fail. However, Christ is faithful through our failures. Just as Peter’s story ended in triumph and redemption, so can yours.



Prayer in the Garden 

Luke 22: 41-44

“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Christian, in your darkest hours what is your reaction? Do you worry? Do you curse? Or fall into despair? Cut yourself off from others? Seek comfort at the bottom of a bottle or other mind numbing substances? Sleep endless hours?

Or do you take our Lord’s approach in the height of anguish and press into prayer and make your requests known to the Father while trusting in His will for your life?

Jesus prays to his Father asking if there is another way that man can be saved. Does He, the only begotten Son of God, have to endure “this cup” with the torture, the humiliation, the slow and extremely painful death of crucifixion and, worst of all, the taking on of all the sins of mankind and separation from His Father with whom He has been in a continual and perfect relationship with for all of eternity? If this is the only way that man can be saved, then Jesus declares that He will submit Himself to the Father’s will.

Jesus knows that soon He will be arrested, beaten, flogged, abandoned by His friends, crucified with sinners, take on the sins of mankind and die a cursed death on a cross to save those who would believe on His substitutionary death for us because this is what was foretold by the prophets (cf. Ps. 22:6-8; 14-15; Zech. 12-10; Is. 53: 3-9). He is aware that if He is to carry out God the Father’s plan of salvation for mankind that He is about to experience the most painful and agonizing death that will ever occur in all of eternity and yet, He submits Himself to the will of God and prayers more earnestly. Why? Because He knows that His Father is good, and that His plans ultimately work out ALL things together for good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (cf. Rom. 8:28) and because of this Jesus could actually have joy to carry out the Father’s will knowing that after He endured the cross that He will get to sit down at the right hand of the Father for all of eternity (cf. Heb. 12:2).

Christian, this life will undoubtedly have times of happiness and contentment and also times of  trials and tribulations. If the perfect Son of God, Jesus, felt the need to pray to our Heavenly Father, how much more should we need to seek out God in our times of trial? And if Jesus could find joy in the midst of the greatest suffering that has ever been experienced by keeping His focus on the reward of sitting at the right hand of the Father then we too can find hope and joy in our sufferings because at the end of this short life God will also raise us up with Christ and seat us with Him in the heavenly realms (cf. Eph. 2: 4-7). Christian, make your requests known to God with thanksgiving, seek Him above all else, submit yourself to His will and rest in knowing that He will work out ALL things in your life for good in the end.



“Should your mercy send me

sorrow, toil and woe,

or should pain attend me

on my path below,

grant that I may never

fail your cross to view;

grant that I may ever

cast my care on you.”

In the Hour of Trial, Vs. 3, James Montgomery (1834)





The Betrayal of Judas

Luke 22:1-6, 47-48
“1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude…
“vs 47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. 48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?

Vs 1-2  The Passover meal was instituted in part to show the coming and promise of Messiah. The unleavened bread mentioned here is symbolic of the absence of sin. Leaven often is a metaphor for sin, and like yeast in bread, it rises and spreads throughout. Sin never stays close and contained. This bread was also known to be striped because of how it was prepared. The unleavened bread in this verse tells us more than the calendar date, it is a picture of the Christ that would come for Israel, and by extension, the world.

The chief priests and scribes are mentioned by Luke. Matthew adds elders, or the civil authorities. Mark adds rulers and priests, or the lower level rulers and priests. We have here anyone of any authority that felt their power threatened by the words and works of Jesus. They have a problem: With Passover nigh, close, Jerusalem is full of pilgrims come to worship. The people followed Jesus, taking to heart his words and wisdom, and maybe to see a show of miracles. Their fear was that the people would rise up and make Jesus king. A forced and limited messiah if you will.

(Do you think they understood the significance of the supposed Messiah they wanted to kill and the Passover they wanted to celebrate?)


Vs 3-6  To be clear, Judas Iscariot was not a Saved man. Where the Holy Spirit dwells, there is no place for Satan. Judas would call Jesus Rabbi, but would not call him Lord. He never gave himself wholly to Jesus as Messiah, but something less. Jesus knew all this and still called him to be among the apostles. Judas was counted among our Lord’s friends. Only a close friend can betray.

(vs 4 ‘communed with the chief priests…’) Communed gives us the idea of familiarity. They were familiar enough that he could quickly get an audience with them. The conversation must have been quick, the negotiations for the price of betrayal quicker. Gladness abounded, and for the price of a lowly slave, the Christ would be crucified and the world upended. Judas would solve their problem of a public arrest.

Question: The other apostles missed Judas’ lack of true faith. Should they have looked for that and helped him? Should we do the same with other ‘Christians?’


Vs 47-48  A multitude is coming to arrest Jesus from the Mount of Olives. Judas knew where to find him. Matthew and Mark use the same word, multitude just meaning a great number. But John uses the word band, which is a military term often used to mean about 600. Remember the fear of the people by the rulers. A small army, well-armed, priests, officers and elders, all to arrest a man never seen as violent. But the people had already received Jesus gladly.

The kiss was a sign of close friendship given on the cheeks. Judas has already made this a mark upon a man for destruction, of betrayal. Judas is separated forever. I am sure Judas felt in charge leading a group so large. But Jesus broke the silence and spoke first, clearly showing His authority and control.

Question: Did there have to be a Judas; a betrayer?


TUESDAY Devotion


Luke 21:34-36


“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”


 As Jesus came near the end of His earthly ministry, His teaching became more focused on the nature of His Return and the Judgment that would follow. We know that very soon after these words, Jesus would be crucified, raised again, and then ascend into the Heavens. And some years after that, the first followers of Jesus would spread throughout the known world preaching about His sacrifice and His Return (Acts 17:31). Fast-forward some 2,000 years, and we are here today still looking for the end of all things. In this day, Jesus’ message rings just as true as it did for those who heard it the first time. There is a great warning that as time passes, we will tend to become more comfortable with this life and lose sight of the mission that we have been given. The heart can be easily weighed down by the intoxication and indulgences of the world, and consequently, become ignorant of the signs of the times. What does Jesus say? The day will come like a snare, a trap, to all those who are so enamored by this life that they are in a state of ‘drunkenness.’ This word, drunkenness can apply to more than just alcohol. The point is to be sober-minded, or to think clearly about yourself and about God.  How do we do that? Listen again to Jesus:



‘Watch ye therefore and pray always’


Two simple instructions.

  1. Watch. This means to pay attention to the events that are happening around you, from a spiritual perspective. Do you see the world sliding into the conditions of Luke 21:8-33? Read it and see. If you know more about a random TV series or what the insides of celebrities’ homes look like than you do the contents of Luke 21:8-33, then now is the time to repent. Obviously, we are much closer to the Return of Jesus than the disciples were. But the question is, how close are we? Could the day catch us unaware? Only if we are not paying attention.


  2. Pray always. It is a plain fact that the heart and mind that is saturated in prayer is not easily enchanted by the enemy. What do we pray for? Jesus mentions in this case to pray to be ‘counted worthy’. There’s only one way to look at this. We are praying that God will continue to sanctify our lives to become holy. I believe that some of this had reference to those in the first century who were unknowingly preparing to face the total invasion of the Romans. However, even that cataclysmic event exists as a shadow of things yet to come. So the point remains. We must pray always that God will transform us more and more into the image of His Son. 





MONDAY Devotion

 The cry of the believer 

Luke 19:37-40


“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying,

Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord:

Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”



Anytime followers of Jesus start praising God publicly, people get nervous.

That day that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey, there was a crowd of desperate people celebrating the coming of the Messiah. Such a moment had been foretold for thousands of years, and, for a moment, it seemed that the Jews were ready to receive their King. They began to chant and sing scriptures from several of the Psalms. Matthew adds that they laid palm branches and their own clothes on the ground in front of Jesus as an act of worship(Matt. 21:8). From this scene, we can see a glimpse of what it will be like when our Lord returns to rule His Kingdom on earth.


But that moment was short lived. We are reminded by the Pharisees’ request, that the world will not accept the truth of Jesus. They want to snuff out the proclamation that the Messiah has come! Have you ever felt the pressure from those around you to keep your faith quiet? Here is some good news. Jesus not only condones the praise of His disciples, He also promises that the truth can never be buried. Even if the disciples were to stop, creation itself would cry out! 


MARANATHA. Come, oh Lord! 


Question: What would you say if you were standing outside when Jesus came in the clouds? 

How could this thought inform your acknowledgement of Him today?