40 Days of Preparation
Preparing for Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday - 2018
A Devotional for Wednesday, March 14 – Tuesday, March 20, 2018
45 While all the people were listening, he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes and who love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive harsher judgment.” He looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said. “This poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 20:45 - 21:4 CSB
Warning Against Religious People
After Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:28-44) some of the most remarkable teachings and events took place during the final days of Jesus ministry, even before His suffering and passion began at the end of the week. At the end of Luke 20, Jesus warned His disciples to “beware of the scribes.” With His arrest, torture and death just days away, Jesus sat in the temple courts and taught the disciples about His rejection of the false piety and the religious pride of the scribes.
The scribes were the legal scholars who interpreted the Jewish law found inside and outside the Bible. They also maintained a prestigious social status within first century society and were known for their corruption and graft in their business affairs. They acted crassly while promoting a life of pseudo-consecration in religious matters. As Robert Stein points out in his commentary on Luke, “The scribe’s ostentatious dress and self-aggrandizing social behavior led to a religion of hypocrisy which was scorned by Jesus (p. 507).”
Knowing His time was running out, Jesus shifted the disciple’s thoughts to abandonment of the first century religion to prepare them for the promises and good news created by the crucifixion that Friday, the resurrection that Sunday, the ascension forty days later, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The old ways of empty, legalistic religion were passing away and a new day of discovering life filled with the joy and peace that comes from God’s love was dawning.
Offerings Given with the Spirit are Always
Acceptable Worship to God
In Luke 21:1–4, we find Jesus continuing His teaching ministry in the Temple. It is still early in the week of the Passion. As Jesus looked on, He began watching people placing their offerings in one of the offering boxes found at the entrance of the Temple. As He watched a poor widow enter the Temple and placed two “very small copper coins” into the treasury He taught the disciples the significance of a heartfelt offering. She did not have much to give, but she gave God the best should had. Jesus applauded her gesture and the spirit of her offering. The lady’s gift demonstrated her absolute dependence of God and her desire to have a heart of worship as she entered into the house of the Lord.
The others gave their offerings. Some gave no offering at all, and they missed the joy and grace of coming to God with the best they had to offer. When we have brought our best, we have brought our love and commitment to God.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul writes:
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (ESV)
The lady did not feel manipulated to give her offering. She sowed all she could, trusting that God would bountifully bless what she had given. She demonstrated the character of a “cheerful giver.”
In Malachi 3:8–10, the prophet writes:
8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (ESV)
While everyone else gave offerings that revealed they were “robbing God,” the poor lady held back nothing and generously worshiped God with an offering that honored Him. Again, God promised to bless a gift given with an attitude of love, humility and absolute surrender.
Both Stories Act as a Preamble to
What Jesus Would Do on the Cross
Later in the week, Jesus would be arrested, unjustly tried, and tortured, before being nailed to the cross. Jesus went to the cross, not to continue to establish and prop up spiritless and legalistic religion, but to establish a new day that was paid for by the sacrifices of the offering of His own life. Those who believe have a new day, a new life and the hope of a future that promised the blessings of God’s love and grace.
Bible Readings for the Fifth Week of Lent
Wednesday – March 14th – John 4:46–54
Thursday – March 15th – Luke 21:5–38
Friday – March 16th – Matthew 6:25–34
Saturday – March 17th – Matthew 25:1–13
Sunday – March 18th – John 5:16–30
Monday – March 19th – Matthew 7:15–23
Tuesday – March 20th – John 20:21-23