Week 43: God Who Took Our Place

Monday: Genesis 44

Tuesday: Mark 15 and 16

Wednesday: Psalm 11

Thursday: Romans 15

Friday: Genesis 44, Mark 16, Psalm 11, Romans 15

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 44

Judah, once involved in his brother’s demise and the deception of his own father, now rises up to intercede for his youngest brother and his entire family’s well being. “Take me instead,” he pleads. Joseph gets to see the compassion of Judah, and we are reminded that this is what the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ, has done for us. Judah says to Joseph, “I shall bear the blame.” And this is what Jesus says to the Father on our behalf, “I shall bear the blame.”

Joseph’s heart is softened toward his brothers as he witnesses this transformation in Judah. And I pray that when others have wronged us, our hearts might still be softened toward them because of Jesus who bore the blame for us.

Who in your life do you need to offer forgiveness to?

Forgiveness is hard and it takes time, give yourself lots of grace as you walk this path. Focus on Jesus, who forgave us of all sin, who took our place and bore the blame. Allow His grace to enable you to forgive others deeply, from the heart.

Tuesday, Mark 15 and 16

I know we read Mark 15 last week, too, but I pray this scene, this story, this reality would never lose its power. I pray that we would never read these passages without complete and total awe of our Lord Jesus and what He has done for us.

Judah begs Joseph to take him prisoner instead of Benjamin. And Jesus willingly submits to the Father, willingly takes our place. “Save yourself and come down!” The passersby taunted Him – and He could have. It wasn’t the nails that held Him there, it wasn’t the Jewish law that bound Him. It was His great love for us – for you and me! – that kept Him on the cross, took Him to the tomb, and carried Him up out of the grave. It is almost unfathomable, this kind of love, this kind of sacrifice!

“Go tell His disciples that He is going before you,” the angel said to the women at the tomb. “There you will see Him, just as He told you.” Can we hear this message today, too? Can we go into the world to tell everyone He has gone before us? And one day we will see Him, face to face, just as He has promised us?

Sit for a while in this good news, this amazing love of Jesus.

Who in your life needs to hear the message today that Christ is going before us and coming back for us?

Wednesday, Psalm 11

David, hunted and persecuted, hiding in caves and running from enemies bent on his destruction knows there is only one true refuge – the Lord Himself. The upright will behold His face and we are the upright only because of Him. Jesus took our place, giving us His own righteousness, so that we, too, may one day behold the face of God in whom we now take refuge.

What does it look like to take refuge in Him today?

Thursday, Roman 15

I’ve read through Acts and Romans over and over again as our own family has been in a season of transition, and keep wondering how Paul does it – this constant picking up and leaving everything and everyone to go to the next place. I keep getting text messages and calls from the church we have left behind in this season – still meeting in our home, still worshipping in our yard, still having worship practices and Bible studies in our living room.

Our community, and Paul’s words here in Romans have given me a little glimpse into what keeps him going – he loves the church. He loves the body of believers. He is encouraged and spurred on by them even as he seeks to encourage them and spur them on.

I still cry most Sunday mornings. I long for my people. But I resonate with Paul’s words – I am so encouraged because they are full of goodness. They just keep on being the church, just keep on loving each other. We long to be there, but for now, we are needed elsewhere and it gives us great joy to leave a body of believers behind who will keep loving our community and keep sharing His Word even in our absence. And their love compels me to keep boldly loving the people in front of me in this new place, in this new season.

Are there people in your life, near or far, who have spurred you on with the love of Christ? Can you reach out to them with encouragement today?

Praise God for His body! Let us strive to encourage, instruct, and refresh one another.

Friday Reflections

I find different parts of myself all over the story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, and I wonder if you do, too?

“Stay awake,” Jesus urges the disciples, only to find them sleeping. How badly I want to stay awake to all that God is doing, and how easily I find myself totally distracted, unable to focus, unable to stay awake to Him in the moment in front of me. Then there is Peter, completely certain that he will go to his grave before he denies Jesus, only to claim not to know Him three times a few hours later. How often do I deny Jesus with my actions, all the while praising Him with my lips?

There is the crowd, that same crowd that praised Jesus and laid their cloaks out before Him just days before, now shouting for Him to be killed and a murder released from prison instead. There is Pilate, deeply convicted that this man ought not to die, and yet pressured and ultimately swayed by the crown, the favor of my far more important to him than the right choice.

I see myself clearest in Barabbas – guilty, but released from judgment as Jesus, the righteous one, takes the punishment He deserves.

And in stark contrast to all of these characters, there is Jesus. Silent as he stands accused and mocked and ridiculed, trusting the Father alone for His vindication. He has done nothing, and yet, He does not defend Himself.

We can be the other characters in the story, too – Simon, who bends down to take up the cross of the Savior, knowing a pain that draws us near to Him will be a pain that is worth it. Joseph, who gives the very best of what he has to his Savior. The women who are filled with compassion and come in adoration to anoint the body of their Beloved Friend.

Because of Jesus, we can trust God alone to vindicate us in the midst of false accusation, misunderstanding, or slander. Because of Jesus, we can bend down and take up our own cross. We can face any suffering with joy knowing a suffering that brings us near to our Savior will be for our benefit, and any light and momentary suffering here will lead to an eternal weight of glory that we cannot yet perceive. (2 Corinthians 4:17) Because of Jesus, we don’t need to justify ourselves, we don’t need to achieve some external, earned righteousness. 

Because God gave us Jesus, we can trust that He will indeed defend us, sustain us, and give us everything we need (Romans 8:32). We can trust that He always has our best in mind.

Because of Jesus, the curtain is torn in two and we have direct access to Holy God who will be with us in all our trials and carry us through all our suffering.

And we have a choice – will we be like the sleeping disciples, distracted and unable to stay alert to all God is doing? Will we be like Peter, acclaiming Christ one minute but denying Him the next? Or will be like Simon, bent down and bearing the weight of a hardship that puts us right up next to Jesus? Like Joseph, giving Jesus our very best. Like the women, running to Him in total adoration.

6 thoughts on “Week 43: God Who Took Our Place

  1. Love your vulnerability shared here—in a similar place of deeply missing people & a community and trying to love again in a new place, while grieving. Hugs to you & yours—I’m going to keep following your study to help keep my faith close to his truth & care.

  2. I have been reading the Psalms a lot lately with my father who has dementia. He is in the hospital waiting for long term care. I love your question, “What does it look like to take refuge in Him today?” There is such a measure of comfort and strength given to us by reading His word. My dad isn’t entirely happy in the hospital but when I read to him he becomes just so calm and relaxed. It is obvious that his refuge is found in Jesus and the reading of God’s Word.
    Last night we had an emergency call to the hospital.I expected the worst. My dad will be ok for the time being but I do admit to being rather emotional through it all. Even In My fatigue this morning, My refuge has just been to sit and read His Word. Even with the kids up and about , God seems to have given them the ability to be fairly calm so I can reflect on God’s word. “God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble”. Praise Him!

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