Monthly Archives: April 2014

Saturday: Make Disciples

Read: Matthew 28:16-20


The Great Commission is what we call it. It is the clarion call to action –the profoundly clear and exceedingly simple-to-understand battle plan Jesus gave His followers and His church. Make disciples. That’s it. The passage does go on to tell us “who”and “how”but the “what”is as plain as the nose on our faces. Make disciples. This short message from Jesus served to bring everything into focus for His followers.


Their journey since the crucifixion had led them to believe Jesus had, indeed, risen from the dead. They had come to believe that He was the Messiah spoken of by the prophets of old. They understood that they had responsibilities to care for one another (“feed my sheep”) but they had not yet taken hold of their role in Jesus’ redemption story.


To be sure, the story of redemption is Jesus’ story. It is through His sacrifice that our sins have been forgiven. It is because of His resurrection that believers will dwell with Him eternally. I don’t save. You don’t save. Jesus saves! Period –but not the end of the story. You see, we have a role in the redemption story. Our role is not that of redeemer; it is the role of disciple maker.


As you read the passage, consider:

  1. “Make disciples”is an imperative in the text as opposed to a suggestion. What are the implications of that in your life?
  2. Making disciples presupposes a person’s belief in Jesus. What does this mean regarding our responsibility to tell others about Jesus?
  3. You can’t make disciples unless you are a disciple. Do an honest self-evaluation.
    1. Are you a follower of Jesus? If not, are you ready to believe?
    2. If you are a follower of Jesus, are you growing in your knowledge of and obedience to His teachings?
    3. Can you identify specific things you need to work on?

Friday: Feed My Sheep

Read: John 21:1-25


At some unspecified time after the appearances we’ve studied so far this week, Jesus appeared to His disciples by the Sea of Galilee. At that point, it seems certain Jesus’ followers believed He had risen from the dead. It even seems logical that they understood He was the Messiah since, during His previous appearance, Jesus “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures”concerning Him. But they still certainly didn’t understand the implications of that nor did they understand their role in His redemption story. How can I say that with certainty? Because, they went fishing.


Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with fishing, of course. But immerse yourself in this story for a moment. The disciples had spent every minute of every day with Jesus for three years. They had heard Him teach things so profound and so revolutionary that listeners were left stunned. They had seen Him heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. They had even been empowered by Him to do miracles, too! Then Jesus was killed and His followers thought the journey had come to an end. But it had not! Jesus was alive. They had seen Him. They had talked to Him. They had heard Him take the Old Testament Scriptures and make plain that He was God’s Chosen One –The Messiah! What would you have expected them to do next? Map out missions strategies? Plant churches? Choose leaders? Go fishing? Yeah, well probably not go fishing. But that is what they did even though they now believed Jesus was alive and that He was the Messiah. The problem was, they had yet to grasp their role in His redemption story.


As you read the passage, consider:

  1. What did Jesus mean by “feed my sheep?”
  2. When people really want to emphasize a point, they sometimes repeat it several times. Is that why Jesus repeated the “feed my sheep”message three times to Peter? Or, do you think it was something else?
  3. Did Jesus’ instructions to feed His sheep apply only to Peter or do you think it extended to the other disciples, as well? If it did extend to the other disciples, what are the implications for you?

Thursday: Doubting Thomas

Read: John 20:24-29


With the exception of Judas, Thomas is, arguably, the most vilified of Jesus’followers. “Doubting Thomas” we call him. How could he have been so ignorant? How could his heart have possibly been that hard and cold? I mean, his friends had told him Jesus was alive. They said they had seen Him with their own eyes. But Thomas wasn’t around when all that happened and he refused to believe!


Honestly, though, what would you have believed? Imagine showing up at a gathering of your friends and they all tell you they have seen Elvis alive? You would be certain that it was some grand joke being made at your expense. You would say, “You know what? I’m not going to believe Elvis is alive until I see him with my own eyes!”I certainly don’t mean to compare Jesus to Elvis nor am I making light of this holy story. I am just asking us to try to take a step back from our “we know how the book ends”existence and a step into Thomas’shoes. He didn’t see the resurrected Jesus for himself therefore, he could not –he would not –believe.


In His abundant grace, though, Jesus responded to Thomas’doubt. A week after Jesus did the whole “poof”thing, he did it again; but this time Thomas was present. And this time, Thomas did believe. Notice in particular, though, what Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”Yesterday you were asked to consider upon what you base your beliefs about the resurrection. If, in fact, you do believe in the resurrection, that belief is based on something other than having seen Jesus. To you, Jesus says, “You are blessed because you have not seen and yet have believed.”


As you read the passage, consider:

  1. What did you believe about the resurrection before reading and meditating on the Scriptures so far this week?
  2. Has what you previously believed been reaffirmed or has it changed in some way? If it has changed, how?
  3. If you don’t believe that the resurrection took place, why not?
  4. Can you trust that Jesus can meet you in your unbelief like He did Thomas?

Tuesday: What Are Y’all Talking About?

Read: Luke 24:13-35


At some point on Resurrection Sunday (perhaps late afternoon) two people were walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. One of those people we know to have been a man named Cleopas, as the text tells us so. The other person isn’t named but it might be reasonable to speculate that it was Cleopas’wife as John 19:25 informs us she was at the crucifixion (although John spells Cleopas differently). These two were, evidently, friends and followers of Jesus. They, too, had been in Jerusalem for the Passover. To what extent they personally witnessed the events regarding Jesus, we aren’t told. We do know that they were well aware of the events (including the claim that the tomb was empty) because the text tells us that’s what they were discussing as they walked. At any rate, two people were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. And as they walked (and talked) suddenly Jesus was walking with them and He asked, “What are y’all talking about?”


Be honest, isn’t it annoying when you’re engrossed in a conversation and someone comes along and asks what you are talking about? Really? You want me to go back over the whole conversation for you? That appears to be the way the question hit Cleopas, too, because he responded,“Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Nonetheless, Jesus traveled with them, enlightening them about what the Scriptures had to say about Him and, eventually, revealing His identity. Upon learning Jesus’identity, the two returned to where the disciples were hiding declaring, “It is true! It is true! He is risen!” As we will see in tomorrow’s reading, the disciples don’t even have the opportunity to respond to this incredible claim before they have an encounter of their own.


As you read the passage, consider:

  1. At this point on Resurrection Sunday, the disciples have heard two independent reports that Jesus is alive. How do you imagine their response to the second report may have differed from the first?
  2. What evidence would you have needed then (or do you need now) to believe Jesus rose from the dead?

Monday: Crazy Talk

Read: Luke 24:1-12



It’s likely that, to most of the world, that Sunday morning dawned just like any other. There were breakfasts to prepare and jobs to be done. Some, surely, awoke with great anticipation for a new day. Others were perhaps filled with dread as they anticipated some task or conversation that waited. Among those who awoke that morning in Jerusalem, many must have reflected on the exceedingly strange events that had taken place in the city in the past few days. Strange events that ended with the crucifixion of some itinerant preacher who, people said, was the son of a carpenter from Nazareth.


That Sunday morning dawned with Jesus’ disciples scattered and hiding. They feared they would be the next to be targeted by the Jewish leaders. They feared they would be the next to die. And for what? All their dreams had come crashing to an end as Jesus’ life ebbed away on the cross. No, it would be far better that they just stay hidden and safe until they figured out the next steps. Until they could decide how to get on with their lives.


But there were some women who awoke that morning concerned chiefly with paying proper respect to their friend and teacher by following the customs of the day and anointing the body with spices in preparation for burial. In fact, they were so anxious to do so that daylight Sunday morning found them at the tomb. The empty tomb. But after the women rushed to where the disciples were hiding to report all they had seen and heard, the disciples did not believe them, thinking their words to be crazy talk.


As you read the passage, consider:

  1. Had you been there on Resurrection Sunday, how do you think you would have responded to the women’s claim that the tomb was empty?
  2. The claim that the tomb is empty still exists. How do you respond to that claim now?
  3. Spend some time praying that God will give you the courage this week to really wrestle with the resurrection story and its implications for your life.
  4. Share what you’re learning with someone today (and each day this week).

Good Friday: “The Long Night & Murder on the Hill”

Read: Luke 22:66-23:55

Thursday never really ended for Jesus. After leaving the Passover table, He and His  friends went to a secret garden to pray. This is where Judas would earn his pay. Like a match igniting, this political and religious climate that had reached its peak would erupt in flames today. Jesus was arrested in the dark of night and brought before an unsanctioned gathering of the Supreme Court. The evidence against Him was inconclusive, so the Leaders ping-ponged Jesus between the Jewish king Herod and the Roman Governor Pilate. The political power play ensued with Jesus being the pawn. The Leaders would have their way – whatever it took. The sun would rise as Jesus was being beaten mercilessly by the Romans and their “flogging” – an act that brought men to the edge of death itself and
left them there. By 9:00 AM the Great Rescuer would be hanging upon a Roman execution device. For six hours the King of Glory would hang suspended between Heaven and Earth – bridging the gap. His friends had been scattered, hiding in dark corners… afraid they would be next. They had
heard his predictions of this day, knew it was coming, but it wasn’t enough for them. All they knew was that someone they loved deeply had been snatched from them and brutally murdered. Fear, grief and overwhelming sadness crept in as the sun went dark.
As you read the passage consider:
1. At any point this week Jesus could have turned aside from this “Great Rescue” and called it quits. Surely you or I would have called it by now. Might thoughts like these have filled our minds? “They don’t appreciate what I’m doing! I’m Done! They are all out to get me anyway! What have I ever done to them but good?!?” Yet, Jesus. Marches. On. Each step leads Him to the Hill for execution. Stop and talk with Jesus about this relentless love and pursuit He displayed for you.
2. Imagine that during the long night and during the torture Jesus caught a whiff of the perfume. You remember from Sunday – Mary’s extravagant gift of belief and kindness. What might this little fragrance have reminded Him of in those moments?
3. Beyond the physical torture and pain, what was Jesus going through? (Read Romans 4:5)
4. Watch “The Passion of The Christ” by Mel Gibson and mourn the death of Jesus.

Maundy Thursday: “Remember Me & Missed Moments”

Read: Luke 22:7-65
Jesus woke up on Earth for the last time today. He had survived the gauntlet of staged questions and failed murder attempts. Today would be filled with the joy of celebrating the highly-anticipated Passover meal and the gut-wrenching expectation of facing what He was predestined to bear: The Cross. Along the way, we find his closest friends yet again clueless as to what is going on around them and most certainly clueless about what was going on with Jesus. Watch them bicker around the Passover table about who’s more important than whom. Listen to their snores as Jesus requests their assistance in the Garden of Gethsemane. They simply don’t get it. After all this time with Jesus, hearing His words and watching His magnificent life, they miss the moment.
Yet notice His intentionality – His determination. Their failures don’t throw Him off course. Their lack of showing up doesn’t affect His. Their cluelessness to His needs doesn’t deter Him from continually meeting theirs. He washes their feet (the job of the slaves). He even offers them a way to cope with their grief when He is gone. He consistently is meeting their needs and is unmoved from His mission: to Rescue the world through His Death.
As you read the passage consider:
1. Consider the emotional and psychological affects upon Jesus as he bears all of this
(i.e. conspiracies, enemies, betrayal, and anticipation of execution). How does he not
turn and run?
2. How could His friends have missed it so badly today? Didn’t they know what was
going on… how important today was? How desperately He needed them.
3. Think about times when you have “missed the moment” in your relationship with others
when they needed you? Think about times when you have missed the moment with
Jesus? Talk with Jesus about those times.

Meet with The Portico Church @ The Palace tonight at 6:00 for a special memorial service in remembrance of Christ’s Sacrifice.

Wednesday: “Betrayal”

Read: Luke 22:1-6 & Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16
The Leaders were getting nowhere with their public debates with Jesus and it seemed that the His popularity and legend was growing. When the Leaders abandoned their public plot they devised a much more devastating plan: find a mole on the inside of Jesus’ inner circle. It was an ingenious plan. But surely none of the men or women who had been with Jesus for any length of time would sell him out, right? The Leaders found just the person they were looking for in Judas. You may know this part of the story well, but think less about why Judas took the bribe to betray Jesus or how greedy he must have been to do this and consider the relational blow this might have been to Jesus.
Here He was fending off spies and threats and failed murder attempts, only to be sold out by one of His best friends. Judas knew Jesus. They had eaten together, walked miles side by side and shared in some fantastic adventures together. This was the knife-in-the-back moment that the Prophets had predicted.
Today the plan to murder Jesus would go from idea to implementation. Judas was the secret weapon that would finally bring down this Preacher from Galilee.
Tonight would be the last full night’s sleep Jesus would get while on Earth. As you read the passage consider:

1. Why would Judas do this thing? (i.e. Money? Doubt? To force Jesus’ hand as a
political revolutionary? Or something else?)

2. It’s easy to demonize Judas. To point fingers and be appalled by his betrayal, yet
the old hymn states of us, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I
love…” Consider your own heart and how easily you “betray” Jesus. What have you
been willing to sell Him out for?

3. Spend some time talking with Jesus about your own capacity for infidelity and

Tuesday: “Traps & Teachings”

Read: Luke 20:20-26
Since His coming-out-of-hiding on Sunday and then His invasion of the Temple Courts on Monday, the political and religious climate of Jerusalem had become a boiling pot. The Leaders looked for some way to trap Jesus in his words so they could turn him over to be done away with. (Think high level presidential campaign: “gather dirt on this guy and bring him down.”) They had suffered enough of this would-be-Messiah. They send spies to dupe Jesus, but He answers their prepared trap with some of his most cunning responses yet. He turns them on their heads by masterfully avoiding the trap and turning their own words against them. Brilliant! Afterwards, they are left “silent”. No more would the Leaders attempt to take Jesus out by rhetoric or cognitive snares. From now on, it would be murder on their minds.

As you read the passage consider:

1. What must Jesus have been feeling and thinking as he faced his enemies and their devised trick questions?

2. How does the “Jesus” of Monday and Tuesday compare to your normal picture of Him?

3. Make a list to compare and contrast how you normally view Jesus with what these specific passages from Scripture (Sunday through Tuesday) say about Him. What similarities do you see? Differences?

How I normally view Jesus:

What the Bible Says about Him:

Monday: “Cleaning House”

Read: Mark 11:10-19
Jesus is literally being hunted down by the Leaders. He has ducked behind corners and tried hiding from them to avoid capture for months… until now. Yesterday he marched into Jerusalem to shouts of “HOSANNA!” (meaning, “S AVE US NOW!”). Today He has returned to the City after a two-mile walk from Bethany and invaded the Temple: the heart of the Jewish Religious System. Notice Jesus’ bravery and determination. He knows he’s hunted. He knows today’s actions will only turn up the heat, but He pushes in anyway. He is intentional. He is brave. Why? Perhaps it was because the Leaders had complicated people’s relationship with God.
Instead of the Temple being a place of honest prayer and worship of God, they had converted it into a means of profit-making. They were more interested in their own gain and performance than a relationship with God. They polluted the simple relationship of God with people. This infuriated Jesus. He took up a whip to deconstruct this distortion of God.

As you read the passage consider:

1. Jesus’ cleaning the Temple was not about Him losing his temper; it was a calculated action. So, what does this say about His desire for people and God to have relationship?

2. In what ways have you complicated your relationship with God – making it something that He did not intend? What have you added or taken away?
In what ways do you allow other people to complicate your relationship with God?

3. Get together with someone you trust and talk about what you may need to “clean out” of your life to get back to what God wants.