20th-26th May: Genesis 46-48; Matthew 27; Proverbs 3:19-35
20th May: Genesis 46:1-34
Jacob goes to Egypt. There were three factors in Jacob's guidance: Inner desire - He wanted to see Joseph; Circumstances - Joseph wanted to see him and his sons were going to take him; God's Word - God told him to go. With God's command there was also His promise - 'I will there make of you a great nation'. There was no need for fear because God would be with him (3-4). Life would not be easy in Egypt - 'every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians' (34). We live in a world which does not honour Christ as 'the Good Shepherd' (John 10:11,14), 'the Great Shepherd' (Hebrews 13:20-21), 'the Chief Shepherd' (1 Peter 5:4). In Christ, we are 'a holy nation'. Why has God made us His 'own people'? - 'that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him..' (1 Peter 2:9). 'The nations are waiting for us, waiting for the gospel we will bring' (Songs of Fellowship, 539).
21st May: Genesis 47:1-26
Jacob and Joseph - the two stories are one. Christ and the Christian - our story is bound up with His story. Jacob reflects on his life - 'What has it all amounted to?'. He does not sing his own praises (8-9). Let the glory be given to God and not kept for ourselves. Joseph provided food for his family (12). Jesus has provided for us something better than food (Matthew 4:4) - 'an eternal redemption' (Hebrews 9:12). Grateful to Joseph for what he had done for them, the people said, 'You have saved our lives...we will be slaves' (25). Saved by Christ we are to be 'slaves' of Christ (Romans 6:17-18). We belong to Christ. We are to serve Him. We look to Him to 'give us seed (His Word)...that the land may not be desolate' (19; Mark 4:14; Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 126:5-6). We 'sow'. We 'reap'. 'God gives the growth' (1 Corinthians 3:6-7) !
22nd May: Matthew 27:1-26
Jesus went to the Cross for us. Refusing to protest His own innocence, He took our guilt upon Himself. Observing this, 'the governor wondered greatly' (14). We also should wonder greatly at this - Christ took our place, receiving the punishment that should have been ours. Barabbas was released, Christ was crucified (26). This is the great exchange - the sinless Saviour takes the place of the guilty sinner (2 Corinthians 5:21). As well as its divine aspect - 'God so loved...' (John 3:16) - the Cross has a human dimension - the people, Jews and Gentiles (the whole sinful world), sent Jesus to the Cross. For Jews and Gentiles ('the whole world'), Christ has provided salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 John 2:2). In the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Christ, we are invited to ask ourselves, 'What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' (22).
23rd May: Matthew 27:27-54
The 'King of the Jews' wore 'a crown of thorns' (29). In the Cross, we see the King. The way of crucifixion - this is the way of the Kingdom. The prayer, 'Thy Kingdom come' (6: 10), could only be answered by way of the Cross. From the Cross, we hear the call for decision. It is the call of love. The love of Christ calls for our answer: 'What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' (22). Here, we see different responses to Christ - derision, mocking, reviling (39-44); misunderstanding (47-49); believing worship (54). How are we brought out of unbelief and into faith, out of derision and into rejoicing? By the mighty working of God in our hearts, we are brought out of darkness and into light (2 Corinthians 4:6). Salvation comes from above, from God - 'The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom' (51).
24th May: Matthew 27:55-66
'Mary the mother of James and Joseph' was also the mother of Jesus (56; 13:55). She began by receiving Jesus, not only as her son but also as her Saviour (Luke 1:38). She was still following Jesus - 'kept by the power of God' (1 Peter 1:5). None of us - not even the mother of Jesus - can walk with the Lord without His grace keeping us in the way of faith. The unbelieving world still denies Christ - 'that imposter' (63) - and His resurrection - 'fraud' (64). As believers, we must maintain our testimony: 'He has risen from the dead' (64). The unbelievers expected a 'fraud'. They did not expect a resurrection! For them, a resurrection was out of the question. God had a surprise in store for them! Unbelief says, 'Resurrection? - Impossible!'. Faith says, 'it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him' (Acts 2:24). He has risen (28:6) - Hallelujah!
25th May: Proverbs 3:19-35
'You will walk on your way securely...for the Lord will be your confidence' (23,26). Trusting in the Lord, we are to say, 'He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold' (Job 23:10). Our faith is under threat. There is the danger of 'sudden panic' (25). We are faced with the 'man of violence...the perverse man...the wicked...the scorners...fools' (31-35). What are we to do? Even in the most testing and trying times, we must hold on to this: God is at work for our holiness - 'Refiner's fire, my heart's one desire is to be holy. Set apart for You, Lord, I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will' (Songs of Fellowship, 475). Submitted to God's holy purpose, we rejoice in this: Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39).
26th May: Genesis 47:27- 48:22
No more fear (46:3). No more pride (47:9). Now, no more doubt - God will bless (15-16, 19-21). Let it be confidence (Philippians 1:6), humility (John 15:5) and faith (Hebrews 11:1; Philippians 3:14). Man's way is set aside - 'his younger brother shall be greater than he' (19). We are 'saved by grace' (Ephesians 2:8). There is one way of salvation - God's way (John 14:6). Israel was promised a 'land' (21). In Christ, we are being led on to 'a better country...a heavenly one' (Hebrews 11:16). Jacob said, 'I am about to die' (21). Jesus says, 'I died and...I am alive for evermore' (Revelation 1:18). He says, 'I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also' (John 14:3). No more fear, pride, doubt - Christ saves 'to the uttermost' (Hebrews 7:25).