When an advertiser altered a photo of Michelangelo’s famous marble sculpture of the biblical hero David, Italy’s government and gallery officials objected. Picturing David with a military rifle slung over his shoulder (instead of his slingshot) would be a violation—“like taking a hammer to it or worse,” a cultural official said.
In first-century Jerusalem, David was remembered as the shepherd-songwriter and soldier-king of Israel’s fondest memories and greatest hopes. Prophets foretold that David’s descendant would finally defeat the enemies of Israel. So, centuries later, when crowds welcomed Jesus as the Son of David (Matthew 21:6–9), they were expecting Him to lead the revolt that would overthrow their Roman occupiers. Instead Jesus knocked over the tables of temple money-changers to restore His Father’s house as a house of prayer for all nations. Israel’s leaders were furious. This wasn’t the kind of Messiah and Son of David they were looking for. So without realizing what they were doing, they called for Roman executioners to take a hammer to the hands and feet of the true glory of Israel.
Instead of stopping them, Jesus let Himself be lifted up on a cross of shame—defaced and disgraced. Only by resurrection would it be known that the true Son of David had defeated His enemies with love and enlisted the children of all nations to spread the word.
Father in heaven, it’s hard to admit. But it’s true. We get so confused. We try to protect
the images we love more than the love You consider priceless.
Jesus shows that God is always better than our expectations.
Our greatest hope comes from trusting God.
Never call it quits in pursuing Jesus.
Jesus’s teaching about absolute ideals and absolute grace seem contradictory.
Jesus never lowered God’s perfect ideal. In His response to the rich young ruler, He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). He told an expert in the law who inquired as to the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (22:37). No one has completely fulfilled those commands.
Yet the same Jesus tenderly offered absolute grace. He forgave an adulteress, a thief on the cross, a disciple who had denied ever knowing Him, and a man named Saul, who had made his mark persecuting Christians. Grace is absolute and all-encompassing, extending even to those who nailed Jesus to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” were among the last words He spoke on earth (Luke 23:34).
For years I felt so unworthy when considering Jesus’s absolute ideals that I missed any notion of His grace. Once I understood this dual message, however, I went back and found that the message of grace gusts through Jesus’s life and teachings.
Grace is for the desperate, the needy, the broken, those who cannot make it on their own. Grace is for all of us.
Jesus fulfilled the perfect requirements of the law so that we may enjoy the perfect peace of His grace.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, he commended them for their bold and joyful witness to Jesus. “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere” (1 Thess. 1:8). The message of the gospel went viral through these people whose lives had been transformed by Jesus Christ. In spite of difficulties and persecution, they could not remain silent.
We convey the story of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ through kind hearts, helping hands, and honest words from all of us who know the Lord. The gospel transforms us and the lives of those we meet.
May the message ring out from us for all to hear today!
There’s no better news than the gospel—spread the word!
They will be like a tree planted by the water.Jeremiah 17:8
This was a tree to be envied. Growing on riverfront property, it didn’t have to worry about weather reports, withering temperatures, or an uncertain future. Nourished and cooled by the river, it spent its days lifting its branches to the sun, holding the earth with its roots, cleaning the air with its leaves, and offering shade to all who needed refuge from the sun.
Why would the prophet compare a flourishing tree to a withering bush? He wanted his people to recall what had happened since their miraculous rescue from the slave yards of Egypt. For forty years in a wilderness, they lived like a tree planted by a river (2:4–6). Yet in the prosperity of their promised land they had forgotten their own story; they were relying on themselves and on gods of their own making (vv. 7–8), even to the point of going back to Egypt looking for help (42:14).
So God, through Jeremiah, lovingly urged the forgetful children of Israel, and He urges us, to hope and trust in the Lord and to be like the tree—not the bush.
Let’s remember in good times what we have learned in days of trouble.
In Christ, there are no outsiders.
Communion is the Lord’s reminder to us of His love and provision.
Keeping the faith means trusting God to faithfully keep you.
Our faith is good if it’s in the right Person.