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1)# ’The teacher … is asking for you’

John 11:28 (20-32) 

Initially Mary had stayed at home whilst her older sister, Martha, went to greet Jesus. Whatever the reason behind her staying, a difference between the sisters is noted, as Martha takes the lead in meeting Jesus. But then Martha returns to tell Mary that Jesus ‘is asking for you’. The younger sister is not ignored, not forgotten, not left until Jesus arrived in the home. Jesus waits outside the village to give Mary the same public recognition as her older sister. It also gives Mary the opportunity to show publicly, her devotion to Christ as she falls at his feet.

Perhaps we feel overshadowed by older siblings, by friends or work colleagues. People with more ‘get up and go’ than us. People who take the initiative, People who are more confident than we are. Maybe whilst others are out and about, so to speak, we’ve stayed at home. Well, as with Mary, Jesus recognises us for who we are - just as special, just as valued, just as important as anyone else. He knows our names so, like Mary, let’s be quick to respond to Christ’s call, to show our love for him and have time with him, one-to-one.

2)# ’His heart went out to her.’ 

Luke 7:13 (11-17)

Time and again we read of Jesus being moved with compassion as he looks on individuals and crowds and sees their deeper needs. Here he empathises with a widow whose only son has died. As the Son of Man, Jesus was not removed from the pain of life here on earth. He cried with Martha and Mary at the tomb of Lazarus. He had compassion for the sick and the marginalised as he too experienced the pain of life alongside those he had created. 

But as the Son of God he was and is able to do something about it. He healed the sick, raised the dead, set free the demon-possessed and proclaimed good news of salvation. Then on the cross he was crushed, bruised, afflicted as his heart was broken, for a broken-hearted world. But his resurrection now means that the same healing, freedom, forgiveness and new life is available for all who will trust in him. More than ever, we need to let people know of this Jesus, whose heart is for us, so that we can be restored.


Ezekiel 48:35 (29-35)

From the first vision given to Ezekiel to this final declaration, the presence and sovereignty of the Lord is evident. He is there in the warnings of judgement on his people and the surrounding nations. He is there offering hope for the remnant, the ‘dry bones’, who remain faithful to him. He is there when he promises restoration for the tribes of Israel, for the temple and of acceptable worship. And that promise still stands.

What we read here reflects what the Lord is doing for the whole of creation. Whilst people still rebel against God’s ways, the Lord has not forsaken his creation, nor forgotten his promises. He is there with us during our struggles. He is there to dispel the fears and anxieties. He is there, living within his Church by the Holy Spirit, salt and light in an unsavoury and dark world. A day is coming when he will sort things out and, when the new heaven and earth is brought into being and a New Jerusalem is in place, the vision given to Ezekiel will be fulfilled. In Rev 21:3 we read, ‘now the dwelling of God is with men’. The Lord is there, on his throne, at the centre of the new creation. Let’s keep looking up and pressing on until Jesus returns.

4)# ’Led by the Spirit into the desert.’

Matthew 4:1 (1-11)

It’s not the most popular destination, but a desert experience can be what God calls us to go through at times. Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was ‘led by the Spirit into the desert’. It was a time of fasting and testing, which led to Christ laying down some ground rules in both the heavenly and earthly realms. The vulnerability of God incarnate could still withstand the assault of Satan.

Desert experiences come to us all, physically, spiritually or emotionally. And they can happen at all times of life, even when there are things to do. Often when we are vulnerable, the Holy Spirit can be more real, closer. When things that we rely on are removed and distractions are taken away, then our focus on the Lord becomes sharper. As one refugee who’d lost home and family in civil war once said, ‘I never knew Jesus is all I needed, until Jesus is all I have.’ It might be tough, but let’s not rebel against those times when the Holy Spirit leads us into the desert place. It can help us re-focus on the important things of life and strengthen our reliance on the Lord.

5)# ’The man came to life and stood up on his feet.’ 

2 Kings 13:21 (20-21)

An amazing incident that once read, you never forget. Just a verse earlier we read ‘Elisha died and was buried’, but it seems that his tomb had been left open. Then another dead man who was in the process of being buried, was thrown into Elisha’s open grave in haste, presumably so that the grave-diggers could hide from the band of raiders. The corpse touched Elisha’s bones and ‘came to life and stood up’. Brilliant! The look on his face must have been quite something!

The power of God to give life through his servant Elisha, continued even after Elisha’s death. But this was a shadow of things to come and on another dimension. Jesus died and was buried - then rose again, so that all who reach out and touch him in faith can have new life and stand firm in Christ. As disciples of Christ, we are called to die to self, be buried and rise again with him in baptism. Then as Christ’s ambassadors, with the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we can help those we have contact with, discover the One who saves and gives life beyond death.

6)# ’An ambassador in chains.’

Ephesians 6:20 (10-20)

Ambassadorial immunity was not something that Paul enjoyed - partly because the religious and political rulers of his day did not recognise the One he represented. But his chains did not stop him from doing his ambassadorial work. He saw a God-given opportunity, even in the restrictions imposed upon him. Whilst he was held captive, he had a captive audience made up of guards and fellow-prisoners.

We may not be in prison chains, but changes in legislation and social views are beginning to limit Christians as to what we can or can’t do or say in public. So like Paul, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to discover a way to declare the gospel without fear, in word and deed, even within imposed limits. As many of our brothers and sisters around the world have proved already, somehow the Lord turns opposition into opportunity for the gospel to be declared and for people to come to Christ.

7)# ’She straightened up and praised God.’

Luke 13:13 (10-16)

A touch from Jesus makes all the difference. Here was a lady who had been afflicted by a crippling spirit for eighteen years. We don’t know how it had happened, but it must have crippled her spirit as well as her body. For eighteen years she had been looking down. For eighteen years people had talked over her. For eighteen years she had little to look forward to. But Jesus calls her to him and sets her free. She can now stand up straight. She can now look people in the eye and she can now look forward to a future with hope. 

There can be many things from our past that cripple us and prevent us from living in the freedom of Christ. Whether it’s eight, eighteen or eighty years, Jesus calls us to him to receive healing and forgiveness. Then we can live with heads held high to the praise and glory of Christ our Lord.

8)# ’Or they will be a snare among you.’

Exodus 34:12 (10-16)

Despite God’s warnings, the Israelites made treaties with other nations and were ensnared time and again into worshipping false gods - and then suffered the consequences. We may wonder why they did not listen to the Lord, but soon realise that we do just the same. 

Snares are disguised, appearing to be what they aren’t and waiting to be triggered by a wrong move. They snap shut or pull tight often causing injury or even worse. This is how it can be with sin when we do not heed the Lord’s warnings. He sees beyond the disguise and knows the harm that disobedience can bring, which is why this warning is just as much for us today. But thank the Lord that he is gracious. By the power of the Holy Spirit we can be forgiven and set free from those things that ensnare us if we cry out to him for help. So let’s pay attention to the Holy Spirit today and avoid the snares of sin. 

9)# ’For she loved much.’

Luke 7:47 (40-50)

Various facts emerge about this lady. She ‘had lived a sinful life’, but didn’t hide away. She had expensive perfume, but was willing to give it up. She was emotional, but not put off. She acted, but did not speak. She was despised, but not by Jesus. He knew something that others didn’t know which made a difference to everything else. She expressed her devotion to Christ and her sorrow for her past life, not with words, but with unreserved actions. It embarrassed other people, but pleased the Lord and brought forgiveness and peace. 

Maybe it encourages us to be more open, more ‘up-front’ in declaring our love for Christ, both through word and action. Let’s not let other people’s opinions or reserve, stifle our expression of love and service for Christ. As this lady shows us, expressing our love for the Lord openly, is worth any embarrassment.

10)# ’He stayed where he was two more days.’

John 11:6 (1-7)

Jesus worked to his Father’s timings. There was a bigger purpose in mind than simply helping Lazarus. The delay was not easy. Two more days of Jesus waiting, whilst his friends struggled with sickness and death. Accepting Father God’s timing is not always easy and can, at times, be quite painful. But he can be trusted to bring hope instead of despair and glory instead of shame. 

All of us experience delays, often when we feel we need an immediate response from the Lord. It can seem as if things are getting worse rather than better, harder rather than easier. But our confidence can be in the One who ‘in all things works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’. It’s his plan and his purpose and therefore his timing.

11)# ’But I am going there to wake him up.’

John 11:11 (7-15)

The ‘waking’ of Lazarus was not just a shadow of things to come with the resurrection of Jesus, but of all who ‘fall asleep’ in Christ. For Lazarus it was a temporary coming back to life as he was to die again some years later. For Jesus, he rose again, on to life, never to die again. As a result, the same will be true for all who are asleep in Christ when he returns. 

The grief of Mary and Martha was turned to joy when Jesus came by and restored their brother to them. Even more joy will be ours when Jesus comes again, not just to restore us to one another, but especially to bring us into complete relationship with himself and enjoy a new heaven and new earth. The time is set; the clock is ticking and every passing day is one day closer to our resurrection.

12)# ’If you had been here...’

John 11:21 (20-27)

Both Martha and Mary express this view (see v32). Their reliance on a physical presence influenced their view of things. Christ had been absent and Lazarus was now dead. But Jesus didn’t have to be there physically to know what was going on and to make a difference (vs4). His physical absence allowed God’s invisible power to be shown later on (see vs 4) and a new revelation of Christ to be given (vs 25). 

For us, Christ’s temporary physical absence is replaced by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, closer than any body could be. Yet how often we rely on our physical senses to influence our perspective on things and to sort things out. Martha and Mary had to learn not to let physical limitations distract from the unlimited power of God. Learning to trust in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit can take time and offend our senses. but it is something we should practise more and more. So when we are in a situation that is beyond our control or understanding, let’s take the opportunity to commit things to the Lord and trust in him.

13)# ’Let it be carried out with diligence.’

Ezra 6:12 (1-13)

The rebuilding of Jerusalem was to be done with ‘diligence’. The Hebrew word speaks of both speed and care. There was to be no hanging around or wasting time. It was to start immediately and to be done as quickly as possible. But the work had to be done well and with care. No cutting corners or second-rate materials. King Darius recognised the importance of doing the best for the Lord God and so should we. 

Jesus has invited us to be part of building his Church and he deserves the very best from us. Time is short, so we need to act quickly in making disciples. No time to hang around on the mountain tops (Acts 1:11). But disciples of Christ must be well prepared for the challenges and opposition that lie ahead, so care must be taken with teaching and nurturing. There can be no turning a deaf ear or blind eye to Biblical teaching. Diligence now will have lasting effect in the New Jerusalem. 

14)# ’Mint, dill and cumin ... justice, mercy and faithfulness.’

Matthew 23:23 (18-26)

In the surrounding passage, Christ is telling the teachers of the law and the Pharisees a few home truths. It’s not good news. Jesus has just called the religious leaders of his day hypocrites, blind guides and blind fools. He will go on to liken them to whitewashed tombs, snakes and vipers - so he has their attention! 

In the midst of this, Jesus highlights their concern with the relatively trivial, of giving a tenth of their spices, whilst neglecting the more important acts of justice, mercy and faithfulness. So how do we match up? We can get bothered and ‘hot under the collar’ about the small trivial matters of life, both in church and outside, yet give little attention to practising or supporting justice, mercy and faithfulness. Perhaps we have more in common with the Pharisees than we’d like to admit. Might be time to acknowledge a few home truths and let the Holy Spirit help us to get our priorities right.

15)# ’They were considered trustworthy.’

Nehemiah 13:13 (6-14)

Here were four men who could be trusted to fulfil their duty to distribute supplies faithfully and fairly to others. They were men of integrity. This is a characteristic that seems to be in short supply these days. Often when position, power and influence are given to people, their perspectives and actions become distorted - even within the church. People can take the opportunity to serve their own ambitions. In Mark 10, Jesus had to deal firmly with his own disciples’ desire for benefitting themselves rather than faithfully serving him by serving others.

It’s easy to favour some over others or let self-interest affect our behaviour, particularly when we are given responsibility.  But we must guard against this in our lives. Self-control is one of the elements of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that will be evident in our lives as we let Christ rule. Integrity must be a hallmark of all disciples of Christ, whether in the church, workplace or family situation. So, like these four men, let’s be people who can be trusted in what we say and do.

16)# ’Two very small copper coins, worth a fraction of a penny.’ 

Mark 12:42 (41-44)

Was it really worth it? Compared with what others were giving, would her two coins make any difference? It would certainly affect her and leave her penniless. And what would others think who were giving so much more? So maybe best to wait until she had a little more cash-in-hand. Is that how we feel sometimes? 

Yet it’s not about what other people see or think, but what Jesus knows. He knew that the ‘very small’ was very much everything the widow had, so she was giving ‘more than all the others’. We need to remember that the principles of God’s Kingdom are not the same as the principles of this world. Like the many rich people, we might give out of our wealth, but have more left over for ourselves. Since the Lord gave everything for us, then, as Christ’s disciples, we must give everything we have and are back to him. This will not be easy, especially for those of us living in the wealthy West. So it’s something we constantly need to work at in our daily living.

17)# ’Ears that hear and eyes that see.’ 

Proverbs 20:12 (9-15)

We sometimes speak of turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to things that should be stopped or corrected. But as this passage tells us, the Lord does not do that; so nor should we. Immoral actions are mentioned in the surrounding verses which cheat, deceive and defraud other people. The profit for some is loss for others. Things haven’t changed and our ears and eyes will hear and see things that are wrong. The challenge is how we respond. It’s never been easier to ‘make our voice heard’ through on-line petitions and action groups. But it’s getting harder to live according to Biblical teaching, especially as the social tide is flowing in the opposite direction.

Living as children of light (Eph 5:8) will mean that we will do more than simply add our name to a petition. We may have to say ‘no’ when others say ‘yes’. We may have to stand by those who are 
rejected by others. We may have to give, when others take. But whatever the situation, let’s ‘overcome evil with good’ (Rom 12:21).

18)# ’And he (Herod) tried to see him.’ 

Luke 9:9 (7-9)

Herod was seriously puzzled. Having had John the Baptist beheaded, rumour was going round that John, or another prophet, had come back to life as someone else! ‘Who is this?’ says Herod.
We might guess that Herod wanted to see Jesus perform some miracles or engage in some philosophical discussion, perhaps as some entertainment or novelty. But at this point, Herod’s desire was not in God’s plan. However, by the time Herod did get to see Jesus, at his trial, there was no performance and no discussion (Lk 23). In the end Herod resorted to mockery to satisfy his desires, but Jesus was not provoked. 

Today, many people are looking for just a spiritual experience, for God to satisfy their curiosity or be that ‘grandad in the sky’ to fix things as and when required. When this doesn’t happen they resort to making fun of Christ and his followers. We need to be alert to this sort of response and not be provoked by it. Yet there are those who are truly searching for a Saviour and need to meet Jesus. It’s these people that we need to learn to identify and spend time with. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to such people and be ready to introduce them to Christ, even today.

19)# ’For you are a gracious and merciful God.’ 

Nehemiah 9:31 (29-35)

It’s easy to take God’s grace and mercy for granted but, like Nehemiah, we need to acknowledge his goodness towards us regularly. This can be important when things are difficult or a struggle. Turning our attention to the grace and mercy of God helps us to avoid self-pity. It stops us from becoming resentful or bitter about our circumstances and reminds us that the Lord remains constant and true. It can be easy to thank God, praise him, speak about his goodness, when things are going well. But much more real if we do it through the tough times. After all, tough times can often cause us to rely on the Lord more and prove him to be gracious and merciful.

Nehemiah recounts the way that the Lord had been good to the Israelites despite their waywardness, and we too can be grateful that God does not treat us as our sins deserve (Ps 103).  Maybe if we remember the Lord’s grace and mercy towards us more often, it will help us to pass that grace and mercy on to others.

20)# ’They left their nets and followed him.’ 

Mark 1:18  (16-20)

Two actions are mentioned here - leaving and following. Both were deliberate and definite. The one had to happen before the other, and the second replaced the first. This was not an outing for a day or a week. The nets were not left, ready to go back to. This was not just a change of job, it was a change of life. The call of Jesus was stronger than family or business ties. Something radical happened, as the disciples later declared, ’We have left everything to follow you!’ (Mk 10:28). 

For many of us, our discipleship of Christ doesn’t include such a radical change. Maybe as a result, we struggle to be as dedicated to Christ as we should be. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to show us those ‘nets’ in our lives that we must leave in order that our following of Christ is as wholehearted as it was for these disciples.

21)# ’He brought me out into a spacious place.’ 

Psalm 18:19 (16-19)

There are times when we feel trapped, hemmed in. It may be as a result of things happening at work or in the home. It might be a change in our circumstances such as unemployment or long-term illness. Times when we feel restricted. Well this is how David felt as he was being chased down by King Saul. ‘The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.’ (v4). So what does he do? ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help’ (v6). 

The result was deliverance into a ‘spacious place’. This speaks of liberty and freedom of spirit as much as of body. Of light instead of darkness, of joy instead of sadness, hope instead of despair. It’s about being lifted above our circumstances, set free from the burden of fear or oppression. The problems and challenges of life will remain, as they did for David, but the Lord helps us to overcome whatever would otherwise drag us down. Look to the Lord today and live in his ‘spacious place’.

22)# ’He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.’ 

2 Kings 5:1 (1-3, & 8-10)

Despite all his power and authority as commander-in-chief, Naaman could not sort out his leprosy. He could cover it up, get on with life as best as possible, but he could not get rid of what was gradually destroying him. To receive the healing that he so needed he had to humbly submit to the Lord’s way of dealing with his problem. Temporary embarrassment led to lasting change.

The same is true for us. Whatever might be our ‘leprosy’, be it a bad habit, a broken relationship, a deep hurt from the past or something else that casts a shadow on life, we need the healing touch of the Holy Spirit. We may have to put aside our pride, admit our need for help from the Lord (and maybe from faithful Christian friends), but let’s not delay in getting things sorted. Lasting change is worth any temporary embarrassment.

23)# ’You are worried and upset about many things.’

Luke 10:41 (38-42)

Easy to criticise Martha, but just as easy to be the same as her. Martha had got herself into a state. Not only was she ‘distracted by all the preparations that had to be made’ but she had become cross with Mary and frustrated that Jesus didn’t seem to notice. ‘Don’t you care...tell her to help me!’  

It’s a shame when things not only distract, but cause discord between us. Things begin to matter more than people, and it can be true within our churches as well as our homes or work-places. Yes, there are things that need to be done, but let’s not let the preparations overshadow the main event. Maybe just a ‘cuppa’ is better than a four-course meal, if it means more time to sit and chat. After all, people matter more than things.

24)# ’You will not have to fight this battle.’ 

2 Chronicles 20:17 (14-19)

The reason for this statement is because a moment earlier, the Lord had declared the battle to be his. Nevertheless, the people of Judah had their part to play. They had still to go out, take up their positions and stand firm, demonstrating their trust in the Lord. Then they experienced God’s amazing deliverance from their enemies. Check it out.

It’s a challenge and encouragement for us all, both in the big and smaller ‘battles’ that we face. Whilst the Lord will ‘fight’ for us, we need to go out and stand firm and declare our trust in the Lord in both word and deed. It’s not always easy, especially when the odds are stacked against us, as with Jehoshaphat. But when we do, we will know Christ’s deliverance - often in an unexpected way, just like the people of Judah did, long ago.

25)# ’I am the Lord’s servant.’

Luke 1:38 (35-38)

Twelve years later, Mary had to be reminded of her role in God’s plan. When Jesus stayed behind in the temple (Luke 2), Mary and Joseph felt unfairly treated. They had come to think of Jesus as one of the family, expecting him to fit in with their plans. Parenthood had become more important than servanthood and at that time, a re-ordering had to take place. 

We can make the same mistake. We see our life as an entity in itself, rather than a part of God’s bigger plan. Inadvertently, in our enthusiasm, we come to expect the Lord to fit in with us rather than us fitting in with him. Like Mary, we start with a servant heart, but gradually we come to expect the Lord to recognise and reward our service. We can feel unfairly treated when, having put in years of service, whether at work or in the Church, someone else gets the promotion, the credit and benefit, and not us. In a society that is all about me, it is hard to be a servant, but that’s what we are called to be. Faithful service for the Lord, will gain an eternal reward that will far outweigh anything we’ve had to forgo on earth (Rom 8:18). 

26)# ’But even he was led into sin.’

Nehemiah 13:26 (23-27)

You’d have thought that Solomon, with all the blessings that God had given him, would have been committed to living God’s way. ‘But even he was led into sin...’  So often, however much we have, satisfaction seems to elude us and we remain vulnerable to being led astray by our desire for more - just like Solomon was.

When the Lord blesses us, let’s not keep it to ourselves, just for our enjoyment. God’s blessing is for sharing. Whether it is money, time, possessions, skills, qualifications or whatever, recognising them as a gift from the Lord to be shared with others will help keep greed or selfish ambition at bay. One Christian philanthropist described himself as ‘a water pipe... it (material blessing) goes in at one end and comes out the other.’  His delight in sharing what the Lord has blessed him with is evident to all who meet him. So, whatever we have, be it time, money, skills etc., let’s be a ‘water pipe’ for the Holy Spirit today, rather than be led into sin.

27)# ’The child is not dead but asleep.’ 

Mark 5:39 (35-40)

Jesus brings a completely different perspective on situations. What others saw as death, Jesus saw as an opportunity to demonstrate his power over death.

On another occasion, the disciples saw five loaves and two fish and asked, ‘What are they among so many?’ Jesus saw things differently and got the people to sit down ready to eat. And again, when the disciples saw the wind and waves as a threat to life, Jesus took the opportunity to show his rule over creation. When an outcast and downcast woman came to draw water from a well, Jesus took the opportunity to send her on her way with living water that changed her life.

When things look bleak from a human perspective, Jesus brings hope and possibility. The same can be true for us today. With faith in Christ, our perspective on life can change, so that we will see opportunities to allow his transforming power to make a difference - for us as well as for other people.

28)# ’I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.’ 

Ezekiel 34:11 (9-16)

The Israelites had deliberately walked away from the Lord and had  gone after other gods. They had been seduced by the nations around them and did what was detestable in God’s sight. Yet despite this provocation, the Lord made this promise - and it still stands today. The Israelites brought suffering on themselves and spent many years under foreign rule and influence, but in his mercy, the Lord went searching for them and brought them back to himself. 

This same promise is for all who have wandered away from following Jesus. Choices and actions may cause pain and heartache, but the Lord does not forget those he came to seek and save. Having paid for our salvation with his own life, he won’t stop searching for the lost sheep to bring them back to the fold. 

29)# ’Whatever you did for one of these ... you did for me.’ 

Matthew 25:40 (31-46)

In this parable, Jesus brings Christian service right down to earth. The everyday, ordinary actions of disciples of Christ can make a difference - and matter. Setting our ‘minds on things above’ (Col 3) impacts how we act on earth as we clothe ourselves with ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’. Our attitudes and actions to the hungry, poor and outsider will be affected as the Holy Spirit works in and through us. 

Serving Jesus is not just about leading or preaching or going overseas or joining a mission team. Important as these are, Christ is looking for service in the everyday, simple, but necessary aspects of life, amongst those who are often ignored, overlooked or excluded. This means we all qualify and can make a difference today. It may not rank highly in the eyes of the world, but it ranks highly where it matters and will reap an eternal reward.

30)# ’To see what would happen to him.’ 

Exodus 2:4 (1-10)

An inquisitive big sister was part of God’s big plan. Seeing her baby brother being picked up from amongst the reeds by Pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam’s quick thinking was inspired as she came out of hiding to arrange for her mother to become her brother’s nurse. What’s more, God had arranged protection for Moses from the close family of the man who wanted him, and all other Hebrew baby boys, dead! 

The Lord can use ingenuity. ‘Thinking outside the box’ is not just for those in industry, but also for those in the Church of Jesus. As the Church faces increased opposition and threats within our society and world, so there will be need for more and more of us to follow Miriam’s example and be ‘smart’ for the sake of Christ and his people.

31)# ’With Jesus leading the way.’ 

Mark 10:32 (32-34)

We read that ‘the disciples were astonished’. Jesus knew what lay ahead of him in Jerusalem, yet he stepped out to lead the way up to the city. Whilst the disciples did not fully realise what was about to happen, they knew enough to be surprised by Christ’s willingness to lead the way. But where Christ leads, he calls all his disciples to follow. The road to suffering and death had to be taken before the road of resurrection and life could be realised. 

All of us who would follow Jesus must deny ourselves and take up our cross so as to be ready to follow him. The dying to self can be a struggle, but let’s not shrink back from the challenge. We must be ready to make sacrifices in this world, if we are to enjoy the fulness of life in Christ. Be encouraged by the words of Jesus in Jn 16:33; ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world.’ 

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