He Is Risen | Day 9: Fresh Faith
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Your devotional reading: Day 9
By: James Banks
Today’s Reading: John 20:24–29
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
When our son was struggling with heroin addiction, if you had told me God would one day use our experience to encourage other families who face these kinds of battles, I would have had trouble believing it. God has a way of bringing good out of difficult circumstances that isn’t always easy to see when you are going through them.
The apostle Thomas also didn’t expect God to bring good out of the greatest challenge of his faith—Jesus’s crucifixion. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus came to them after the resurrection, and in his deep grief he insisted, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands [and] put my fingers into them” (John 20:25). But later, when Jesus appeared to all the disciples together, out of the dust of Thomas’s doubts God’s Spirit would inspire a striking statement of faith. When Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28), he was grasping the truth that Jesus was actually God in the flesh, standing right in front of him. It was a bold confession of faith that would encourage and inspire believers in every century that followed.
Our God is able to inspire fresh faith in our hearts, even in moments when we least expect it. We can always look forward to His faithfulness. Nothing is too hard for Him!
God can change our doubts into bold statements of faith.
Read: Hebrews 10:1–10
Bible in a Year: Judges 9–10; Luke 5:17–39
We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.—Hebrews 10:10
During Holy Week, we remember the final days before Jesus’s crucifixion. The road Jesus traveled to the cross through the streets of Jerusalem is known today as the Via Dolorosa, the way of sorrows.
But the writer of Hebrews viewed the path Jesus took as more than just a path of sorrows. The way of suffering that Jesus willingly walked to Golgotha made a “new and living way” into the presence of God for us (Hebrews 10:20).
For centuries the Jewish people had sought to come into God’s presence through animal sacrifices and by seeking to keep the law. But the law was “only a shadow of the good things that are coming,” for “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (vv. 1, 4).
Jesus’s journey down the Via Dolorosa led to His death and resurrection. Because of His sacrifice, we can be made holy when we trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins. Even though we aren’t able to keep the law perfectly, we can draw near to God without fear, fully confident that we are welcomed and loved (vv. 10, 22).
Christ’s way of sorrow opened for us a new and living way to God. —Amy Peterson
Jesus, thank You for walking the way of sorrow and making a way for us to be reconciled to God.
Christ’s sacrifice was what God desired and what our sin required.
INSIGHT: In Romans 3:9-23 Paul describes how we are all sinners. Because of our sins we deserve God’s wrath (1:18). But God showed us how much He loved us by giving His Son to be the “sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood” (3:25). We are all “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (v. 24). Even though we still sin, we are justified, reconciled, and sanctified. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, we can live holy lives. K. T. Sim
He Is Risen | Day 8: Surprised!
Our Daily Bread Ministries
By: David McCasland
Today’s Reading: Luke 24:13–35
Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610), an Italian artist, was known for his fiery temperament and unconventional technique. He used ordinary working people as models for his saints and was able to make viewers of his paintings feel they were a part of the scene. The Supper at Emmaus shows an innkeeper standing while Jesus and two of His followers are seated at a table when they recognize Him as the risen Lord (Luke 24:31). One disciple is pushing himself to a standing position while the other’s arms are outstretched and his hands open in astonishment.
Luke, who records these events in his gospel, tells us that the two men immediately returned to Jerusalem where they found the eleven disciples and others assembled together and saying, “ ‘The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.’ Then [they] told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread” (vv. 33–35).
Oswald Chambers said, “Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical connections. The only way a worker can keep true to God is by being ready for the Lord’s surprise visits.”
Whatever road we are on today, may we be ready for Jesus to make Himself known to us in new and surprising ways.
To find the Lord Jesus Christ we must be willing to seek Him.
Read: John 13:1–17
Bible in a Year: Judges 7–8; Luke 5:1–16
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet.—John 13:5
One day in physics class many years ago, our teacher asked us to tell him—without turning around—what color the back wall of the classroom was. None of us could answer, for we hadn’t noticed.
Sometimes we miss or overlook the “stuff” of life simply because we can’t take it all in. And sometimes we don’t see what’s been there all along.
It was like that for me as I recently read again the account of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. The story is a familiar one, for it is often read during Passion Week. That our Savior and King would stoop to cleanse the feet of His disciples awes us. In Jesus’s day, even Jewish servants were spared this task because it was seen as beneath them. But what I hadn’t noticed before was that Jesus, who was both man and God, washed the feet of Judas. Even though He knew Judas would betray Him, as we see in John 13:11, Jesus still humbled Himself and washed Judas’s feet.
Love poured out in a basin of water—love that He shared even with the one who would betray Him. As we ponder the events of this week leading up to the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection, may we too be given the gift of humility so that we can extend Jesus’s love to our friends and any enemies. —Amy Boucher Pye
Lord Jesus Christ, fill my heart with love that I might roll up my sleeves and wash the feet of others for Your glory.
Because of love, Jesus humbled Himself and washed His disciples’ feet.
He Is Risen | Day 7: He Understands and Cares
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Your devotional reading: Day 7
He Understands and Cares
By: David McCasland
Today’s Reading: Isaiah 53:1–8
It was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
When asked if he thought that ignorance and apathy were problems in modern society, a man joked, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
I suppose many discouraged people feel that way about the world today and the people in it. But when it comes to the perplexities and concerns of our lives, Jesus fully understands, and He deeply cares. Isaiah 53, an Old Testament prophecy of the crucifixion of Jesus, gives us a glimpse of what He went through for us. “He was oppressed and treated harshly . . . . He was led like a lamb to the slaughter” (v. 7). “He was struck down for the rebellion of my people” (v. 8). “It was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands” (v. 10).
On the cross Jesus willingly bore our sin and guilt. No one ever suffered more than our Lord did for us. He knew what it would cost to save us from our sins and, in love, He willingly paid it (vv. 4–6).
Because of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, He is alive and present with us today. Whatever situation we face, Jesus understands and cares. And He will carry us through.
He isn’t here! He is risen! —Luke 24:6
Read: Luke 23:44–49
Bible in a Year: Judges 4–6; Luke 4:31–44
Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering . . . ?—Lamentations 1:12
In the song “Look at Him,” Mexican composer Rubén Sotelo describes Jesus at the cross. He invites us to look at Jesus and be quiet, because there is really nothing to say before the type of love Jesus demonstrated at the cross. By faith we can imagine the scene described in the Gospels. We can imagine the cross and the blood, the nails, and the pain.
When Jesus breathed His last, those who “had gathered to witness this sight . . . beat their breasts and went away” (Luke 23:48). Others “stood at a distance, watching these things” (v. 49). They looked and were quiet. Only one spoke, a centurion, who said, “Surely this was a righteous man” (v. 47).
Songs and poems have been written to describe this great love. Many years before, Jeremiah wrote about Jerusalem’s pain after its devastation. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12). He was asking people to look and see; he thought there was no greater suffering than Jerusalem’s. However, has there been any suffering like Jesus’s suffering?
All of us are passing by the road of the cross. Will we look and see His love? This Easter, when words and poems are not enough to express our gratitude and describe God’s love, let us take a moment to ponder Jesus’s death; and in the quietness of our hearts, may we whisper to Him our deepest devotion. —Keila Ochoa
Dear Jesus, as I look at Your cross, I have no words to express my gratitude for Your perfect sacrifice. But I thank You for Your love.
Look at the cross and worship.
INSIGHT: Can you imagine being personally responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? Luke tells us the Roman centurion saw something that led him to conclude that he had just overseen the execution of an innocent man (Luke 23:47). Matthew adds that as the officer and his soldiers felt the earth shake violently under their feet they became terrified at the thought that they had just executed “the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
In their world, Caesar was known as the son of God. But these Roman soldiers suddenly realized the emperor they answered to was nothing like Jesus. Entrusted with all power and authority in heaven and on earth, His death revealed the loving heart of His Father.
Imagine being the centurion reading what the apostle Paul later wrote to followers of Jesus in Rome. By this time, Jesus’s death was being proclaimed as good news to everyone (Romans 1:15-17). Paul described Jesus’s suffering and death as evidence of the God who continues to groan with us in our wrongs against Him, one another, and ourselves (Romans 8).
Can we see ourselves kneeling with this Roman officer in grateful worship? Mart DeHaan
He Is Risen | Day 6: Forsaken for Our Sake
Your devotional reading: Day 6
Forsaken for Our Sake
By: Amy Peterson
Today’s Reading: Matthew 26:36–46
God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
Does having a friend nearby make pain more bearable? Researchers at the University of Virginia conducted a fascinating study to answer that question. They wanted to see how the brain reacted to the prospect of pain, and whether it behaved differently if a person faced the threat of pain alone, holding a stranger’s hand, or holding the hand of a close friend.
Researchers ran the test on dozens of pairs, and found consistent results. When a person was alone or holding a stranger’s hand while anticipating a shock, the regions of the brain that process danger lit up. But when holding the hand of a trusted person, the brain relaxed. The comfort of a friend’s presence made the pain seem more bearable.
Jesus needed comfort as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what He was about to face: betrayal, arrest, and death. He asked His closest friends to stay and pray with Him, telling them that His soul was “crushed with grief” (Matthew 26:38). But Peter, James, and John kept falling asleep.
Jesus faced the agony of the garden without the comfort of a hand to hold. But because He bore that pain, we can be confident that God will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus suffered so that we will never have to experience separation from the love of God (Romans 8:39). His companionship makes anything we endure more bearable.
Because of God’s love, we are never truly alone.
Today’s Reading: John 16:19–24
You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
Clutching two framed photographs, the proud grandmother showed them to friends in the church foyer. The first picture was of her daughter back in her homeland of Burundi. The second was of her grandson, born recently to that daughter. But the daughter wasn’t holding her newborn. She had died giving birth to him.
A friend approached and looked at the pictures. Reflexively, she reached up and held that dear grandmother’s face in her hands. All she could say through her own tears was, “I know. I know.”
And she did know. Two months earlier she had buried a son.
There’s something special about the comfort of others who have experienced our pain. They know. Just before Jesus’s arrest, He warned His disciples, “You will weep and mourn . . . but the world will rejoice.” Yet in the next breath He comforted them: “You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy” (John 16:20). In mere hours, the disciples would be devastated by Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion. But their crushing grief soon turned to a joy they could not have imagined when they saw Him alive again.
Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah, “It was our weaknesses he carried; . . . our sorrows that weighed him down” (Isaiah 53:4). We have a Savior who doesn’t merely know about our pain; He lived it. He knows. He cares. One day our grief will be turned into joy.
When we put our cares into His hands, He puts His peace into our hearts.
He Is Risen | Day 1: The Price of Love
Our Daily Bread
Your devotional reading: Day 1Day 1
The Price of Love
By: Amy Boucher Pye
Today’s Reading: Isaiah 53:9–12
He bore the sins of many.
Our daughter burst into tears as we waved goodbye to my parents. After visiting us in England, they were starting their long journey back to their home in the US. “I don’t want them to go,” she said. As I comforted her, my husband remarked, “I’m afraid that’s the price of love.”
We might feel the pain of being separated from loved ones, but Jesus felt the ultimate separation when He paid the price of love on the cross. He, who was both human and God, fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy 700 years after Isaiah gave it when He “bore the sins of many” (Isaiah 53:12). In this chapter we see rich pointers to Jesus being the suffering Servant, such as when He was “pierced for our rebellion” (v. 5), which happened when He was nailed to the cross and when one of the soldiers pierced His side (John 19:34), and when “he was whipped so we could be healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Because of love, Jesus came to earth and was born a baby. Because of love, He received the abuse of the teachers of the law, the crowds, and the soldiers. Because of love, He suffered and died to be the perfect sacrifice, standing in our place before the Father. We live because of love.
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who died to give us life.
He Is Risen | Day 2: Our Covering
Our Daily Bread
By: Anne Cetas
Today’s Reading: Romans 3:21–26
What joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
When talking about faith in Jesus, we sometimes use words without understanding or explaining them. One of those words is righteous. We say that God has righteousness and that He makes people righteous, but this can be a tough concept to grasp.
The way the word righteousness is pictured in the Chinese language is helpful. It is a combination of two characters. The top word is lamb. The bottom word is me. The lamb covers or is above the person.
When Jesus came to this world, John the Baptist called Him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). We need our sin taken care of because it separates us from God whose character and ways are always perfect and right. Because His love for us is great, God made His Son Jesus “who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right [righteous] with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus, the Lamb, sacrificed Himself and shed His blood. He became our “cover.” He makes us righteous, which places us in right relationship with God.
Being right with God is a gift from Him. Jesus, the Lamb, is God’s way to cover us.
The only permanent covering for sin is the blood of Christ.
He Is Risen | Day 3: Flowing Peace
Our Daily Bread
By: Amy Boucher Pye
Today’s Reading: John 14:16–27
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.
“I’m not surprised you lead retreats,” said an acquaintance in my exercise class. “You have a good aura.” I was jolted but pleased by her comment, because I realized that what she saw as an “aura” in me, I understood to be the peace of Christ. As we follow Jesus, He gives us the peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:7) and radiates from within—though we may not even be aware of it.
Jesus promised His followers this peace when, after their last supper together, He prepared them for His death and resurrection. He told them that though they would have trouble in the world, the Father would send them the Spirit of truth to live with them and be in them (John 14:16–17). The Spirit would teach them, bringing to mind His truths; the Spirit would comfort them, bestowing on them His peace. Though soon they would face trials—including fierce opposition from the religious leaders and seeing Jesus executed—He told them not to be afraid. The Holy Spirit’s presence would never leave them.
Although as God’s children we experience hardship, we too have His Spirit living within and flowing out of us. God’s peace can be His witness to everyone we meet—whether at a local market, at school or work, or in the gym.
When we keep our mind on God, His Spirit keeps our mind at peace.
He Is Risen | Day 4: Free Indeed
Our Daily Bread
By: Bill Crowder
Today’s Reading: John 8:31–37
If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745–1796) was only 11 years old when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He made the harrowing journey from West Africa to the West Indies, then to the colony of Virginia, and then to England. By the age of 20 he purchased his own freedom, still bearing the emotional and physical scars of the inhumane treatment he had experienced.
Unable to enjoy his own freedom while others were still enslaved, Equiano became active in the movement to abolish slavery in England. He wrote his autobiography (an unheard of achievement for a former slave in that era) in which he described the horrific treatment of the enslaved.
When Jesus came, He fought a battle for all of us who are enslaved and unable to fight for ourselves. Our slavery is not one of outward chains. We are held by our own brokenness and sin. Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:34–36).
Wherever such a freedom seems unheard of, His words need to be declared. We can be liberated from our guilt, shame, and hopelessness. By trusting Jesus, we can be free indeed!
The price of our freedom from sin was paid by Jesus’s blood