Category Archives: 40 Days to the Cross

40 Days to the Cross: Week Three – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 38:10–15

My heart throbs violently, my strength leaves me;

and the light of my eyes, that also is not with me.

My friends and companions stand aloof from my affliction,

and my relatives stand afar off.

Those who seek my life lay snares as well,

and those intent on my harm speak threats.

They also plot deceit all day.

But as for me, like the deaf I cannot hear,

and I am like the mute who cannot open his mouth.

And so I am like a man who hears not,

and in whose mouth there are no retorts.

Rather for you I wait, O Yahweh.

You will answer, O Lord my God.

Reading: Mark 12:13–17

And they sent some of the Pharisees and the Herodians to him so that they could catch him unawares in a statement. And when they came, they said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and you do not care what anyone thinks, because you do not regard the opinion of people but teach the way of God in truth. Is it permitted to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” But because he knew their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius so that I can look at it!” So they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” And they said to him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar the things of Caesar, and to God the things of God!” And they were utterly amazed at him.

Reflection

See their craftiness. They do not say, “Tell us what is good, what is expedient, what is lawful?” but, “What do you think?” They looked to this one object: to betray Him and to set Him at enmity with the rulers. And Mark declaring this—and more plainly discovering their self-will and their murderous disposition—affirms them to have said, “Should we pay [Caesar], or should we not?” (Mark 12:15 nrsv) They were breathing anger and travailing with a plot against Him, yet they feigned respect.

What did He say? “Why are you putting me to the test?” (Matt 22:18 nrsv). He talks with them with more than usual severity. Because their wickedness was now complete and manifest, He cuts deeper. He confounds and silences them by publishing their secret thoughts and making their intent clear to all.

He did these things to repulse their wickedness so that they might not suffer hurt in attempting the same things again. And yet their words were full of respect, for they both called Him Master, and bore witness to His truth and said He was no respecter of persons. Jesus, being God, was not deceived by these things. They also ought to have realized that the rebuke was not the result of conjecture, but a sign of His knowing their secret thoughts.

—John Chrysostom

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom

Response

God knows all of your secret thoughts. What areas of your life do you need to give over to Him? How can you turn your worship back to Him in these areas?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Three – Monday

Confession: Psalm 38:6–9

I am bowed down; I am bent over greatly.

All the day I go about mourning.

For my loins are full of burning,

and there is no soundness in my flesh.

I am faint and crushed greatly;

I groan because of the roaring of my heart.

O Lord, all my longing is before you,

and my sighing is not hidden from you.

Reading: Mark 12:1–12

And he began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, and put a fence around it, and dug a trough for the winepress, and built a watchtower, and leased it to tenant farmers, and went on a journey. And he sent a slave to the tenant farmers at the proper time, so that he could collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from the tenant farmers. And they seized him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent to them another slave, and that one they struck on the head and dishonored. And he sent another, and that one they killed. And he sent many others, some of whom they beat and some of whom they killed. He had one more, a beloved son. Last of all he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenant farmers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and the inheritance will be ours!’ And they seized and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenant farmers and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:

‘The stone which the builders rejected,

this has become the cornerstone.

This came about from the Lord,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And they were seeking to arrest him, and they were afraid of the crowd, because they knew that he had told the parable with reference to them. And they left him and went away.

Reflection

The very medicine that we don’t like is the medicine that we ought to have, and the very truths that men object to, and that make them angry, are the truths that bring them to the cross of Christ. What we want is to preach Christ in season and out of season—

“Tell the old, old story

Of unseen things above,

Of Jesus and His glory,

Of Jesus and His love.”

Why, the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. The very stone that they would not have was the very stone that God chose, and upon this stone He is building His Church now—upon the Rock of Ages. It is Christ, yes, Christ that men want, and then they will get sure food for eternity.

—Dwight L. Moody

Medicine for the Soul

Response

Is there a time in your life when you found it convenient to reject Jesus? Perhaps you thought you could repent later. What brought you back to the gospel?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 38:1–5

O Yahweh, do not rebuke me in your anger

or chastise me in your wrath.

For your arrows have sunk into me,

and your hand has pressed down on me.

There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation.

There is no health in my bones because of my sin.

For my iniquities have passed over my head;

like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

My wounds start to stink; they rot

because of my foolishness.

Reading: Mark 11:27–33

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came up to him and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority that you do these things?” So Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? Answer me!” And they began to discuss this with one another, saying, “What should we say? If we say ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ ”—they were afraid of the crowd, because they all looked upon John as truly a prophet. And they replied to Jesus saying, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Reflection

Jesus, for the sake of men, desired to have Himself revealed by a lamp to the faith of those who believed, that by means of the same lamp His enemies might be confounded.… And the Lord, because they shut the door against themselves by professing ignorance of what they know, did not open to them because they did not knock. For it is said, “Knock, and the door will be opened for you” (Matt 7:7 nrsv). Not only did these not knock that it might be opened to them, but, by denying that they knew, they barred that door against themselves. And the Lord says to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Matt 21:27 nrsv). And they were confounded by means of John; and in them were the words fulfilled, “I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame.”

—Augustine of Hippo

Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel According to St. John

Response

The exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus in Mark 11:26–33 shows both the Pharisees’ unwillingness to believe in Jesus and their unwillingness to state their beliefs publicly (because of their fear of the crowds). Is there a time in your life when you responded to the gospel in the same way?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Friday

Confession: Psalm 32:8–11

I will instruct you and teach you

in the way that you should go.

I will advise you with my eye upon you.

Do not be like a horse or like a mule, without understanding;

that needs his tackle—bridle and rein—for restraint

or he would not come near you.

Many are the pains of the wicked,

but for the one who trusts Yahweh

loyal love surrounds him.

Be glad in Yahweh and rejoice, you righteous,

and shout for joy, all you upright of heart.

Reading: Mark 11:20–25

And as they passed by early in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered!” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God! Truly I say to you that whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. For this reason I say to you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be done for you. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your sins.”

Reflection

He showed His power to take vengeance. Wherefore not in any other, but in the moistest of all planted things did He work the miracle, so that hence also the miracle appeared greater.

And that you might learn, that for the disciples’ sakes this was done, that He might train them to feel confidence, hear what He said afterwards. “You also shall do greater things, if you are willing to believe and to be confident in prayer” (John 1:50; Matt 21:22 [paraphrases]). All is done for their sake, so that they might not be afraid and tremble at plots against them? For this reason He said this a second time also, to make them cleave to prayer and faith. “For not this only shall you do, but also shall remove mountains; and many more things shall you do, being confident in faith and prayer” (Matt 21:21–22 [paraphrase]).

—John Chrysostom

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom

Response

Do you feel confident in prayer and faith? Do you trust that God is at work in your life? He hears your requests. Today, pray in this confidence.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 32:6–7

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you

at the time for finding you.

Surely at the flood of many waters they will not reach him.

You are my hiding place;

from trouble you preserve me.

With cries of deliverance you surround me. Selah

Reading: Mark 11:12–19

And on the next day as they were departing from Bethany, he was hungry. And when he saw from a distance a fig tree that had leaves, he went to see if perhaps he would find anything on it. And when he came up to it he found nothing except leaves, because it was not the season for figs. And he responded and said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you any more forever!” And his disciples heard it.

And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered into the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple courts, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling doves. And he did not permit anyone to carry objects through the temple courts. And he began to teach and was saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations,’ but you have made it a cave of robbers!” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it, and began considering how they could destroy him. For they were afraid of him because the whole crowd was astounded by his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.

Reflection

We see in the beginning of this passage one of the many proofs that our Lord Jesus Christ was really man. We read that “he was hungry” (Mark 11:12). He had a nature and bodily constitution, like our own in all things, sin only excepted. He could weep and rejoice and suffer pain. He could be weary and need rest. He could be thirsty and need drink. He could be hungry and need food.

Expressions like this should teach us the condescension of Christ. How wonderful they are when we reflect upon them! He who is the eternal God—He who made the world and all that it contains—He from whose hand the fruits of the earth, the fish of the sea, the fowls of the air, the beasts of the field, all had their beginning—He, even He was pleased to suffer hunger when He came into the world to save sinners.

—J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on Mark

Response

The book of Hebrews tells us that we do not have a great high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. How is it an encouragement to know that Jesus experienced weakness and temptation just as we do?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 32:1–5

Happy is he whose transgression is taken away,

whose sin is covered.

Happy is a person to whom Yahweh does not impute iniquity

and in whose spirit there is not deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones were worn out

due to my groaning all the day.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.

My vigor was changed into the dry heat of summer. Selah

I made known my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not cover.

I said, “I will confess concerning my transgressions to Yahweh,”

and you took away the guilt of my sin. Selah

Reading: Mark 11:1–11

And when they came near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village before you, and right away as you enter into it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say ‘The Lord has need of it, and will send it here again at once.’ ” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those who were standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” So they told them, just as Jesus had said, and they allowed them to take it. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, and he sat on it. And many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches they had cut from the fields. And those who went ahead and those who were following were shouting,

“Hosanna!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

And he went into Jerusalem to the temple, and after looking around at everything, because the hour was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Reflection

Consider the great virtues Christ showed us by His human nature in this procession: While He was supreme and rich and powerful above all—as the true Son of God according to the divinity—He did not display the excellence of His majesty before the people by worldly pomp. But with much humility and meekness [He] approached the city, rebellious against Him. This is our king, whom John Baptist proclaimed as the lamb, that was to come into the world: Who for the salvation of the human race drew near to the place of suffering to accomplish the work of our redemption, as it had been revealed to the holy patriarchs and prophets.

He did not turn aside from the face of His enemies, nor dread the holy place because of the malice of the people. Yet, with the greatest charity and compassion, [He] approached the envious and enraged to calm their passions. Moreover, for their coming excesses and evil deeds, He mourned and wept.

—Thomas à Kempis

A Meditation on the Incarnation of Christ

Response

The people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus into the city with shouts and praise because they believed He was going to be a political savior. Do you turn to God only in times of personal crisis or when you need something from Him?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 6:5–7

For there is no remembrance of you in death.

In Sheol, who will give thanks to you?

I am weary with my groaning;

I flood my bed every night.

With my tears I drench my couch.

My eye wastes away because of vexation;

it grows old because of all my oppressors.

Reading: Mark 10:46–52

And they came to Jericho. And as he was setting out from Jericho along with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting beside the road. And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many people warned him that he should be quiet. But he was crying out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” And he threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered him and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabboni, that I may regain my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” And immediately he regained his sight and began to follow him on the road.

Reflection

O most kind, most loving Lord, whom I now desire to receive with devotion. You know the weakness and the necessity which I suffer, in what great evils and vices I am involved, how often I am depressed, tempted, defiled, and troubled.

To you I come for help; to you I pray for comfort and relief. I speak to Him who knows all things, to whom my whole inner life is manifest, and who alone can perfectly comfort and help me.

You know what good things I am most in need of and how poor I am in virtue. Behold, I stand before you, poor and naked, asking your grace and imploring your mercy.

Feed your hungry beggar. Inflame my coldness with the fire of your love. Enlighten my blindness with the brightness of your presence. Turn all earthly things to bitterness for me, all grievance and adversity to patience, all lowly creation to contempt and oblivion. Raise my heart to you in heaven, and suffer me not to wander on earth. From this moment to all eternity do you alone grow sweet to me, for you alone are my food and drink, my love and my joy, my sweetness and my total good.

Let your presence wholly inflame me. Consume and transform me into yourself, that I may become one spirit with you by the grace of inward union and by the melting power of your ardent love.

Suffer me not to go from you fasting and thirsty, but deal with me mercifully as you have so often and so wonderfully dealt with your saints.

What wonder if I were completely inflamed by you to die to myself, since you are the fire ever burning and never dying, a love purifying the heart and enlightening the understanding.

—Thomas à Kempis

The Imitation of Christ

Response

Instead of “going on his way,” Bartimaeus followed after Jesus. What is your response to Christ’s intervention in your life? After reflecting on this, spend time praying Thomas à Kempis’ prayer.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Monday

Confession: Psalm 6:1–4

O Yahweh, do not rebuke me in your anger,

and do not discipline me in your wrath.

Be gracious to me, O Yahweh, because I am feeble.

Heal me, O Yahweh, for my bones are terrified.

My soul is also very terrified.

But you, O Yahweh, how long?

Turn, O Yahweh; deliver my life.

Save me for the sake of your steadfast love.

Reading: Mark 10:32–45

Now they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going on ahead of them. And they were astounded, but those who were following him were afraid. And taking aside the twelve again, he began to tell them the things that were about to happen to him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him and flog him and kill him, and after three days he will rise.”

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you.” And he said to them, “What do you want that I do for you?” So they said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit one at your right hand and one at your left in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” And they said to him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup that I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

And when they heard this, the ten began to be indignant about James and John. And Jesus called them to himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their people in high positions exercise authority over them. But it is not like this among you! But whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be most prominent among you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Reflection

Elevation is pleasing to all, but humility is the step to it. Why do you put out your foot beyond you? You have a mind to fall, not to ascend. Begin by the step, and so you have ascended. This step of humility those two disciples were loth to have an eye to, who said [to the Lord], “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37 nrsv). They sought for exaltation; they did not see the step. But the Lord showed them the step. For what did He answer them? “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38 nrsv) He does not simply say, “Let him deny himself, and follow me.” But He says, “[Let him] take up [his] cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 nrsv)

What is, “Let him take up his cross”? Let him bear whatever trouble he has; so let him follow me. When he begins to follow me in conformity to my life and precepts, many will contradict him, many will hinder him, many will try to dissuade him—even those who are, as it were, Christ’s companions. They who hindered the blind men from crying out were walking with Christ. Whether there be threats or caresses—or whatever hindrances there be—if you wish to follow, turn them into your cross. Bear it, carry it, and do not give way beneath it. There seems to be an exhortation to martyrdom in these words of the Lord. If there be persecution, ought not all things to be despised in consideration of Christ? The world is loved; but let Him be preferred by whom the world was made.

—Augustine of Hippo

Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament

Response

The call to take up your cross is a radical one. Is your life marked by transformation? Are you willing to bear troubles, conflicts, or even persecution on His behalf? Are you willing to share the good news of Jesus with others?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 130:5–8

I await Yahweh; my soul awaits,

and I wait for his word.

My soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning.

Yes, more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, wait for Yahweh.

For with Yahweh there is loyal love,

and with him there is abundant redemption.

And he will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

Reading: Mark 10:17–31

And as he was setting out on his way, one individual ran up and knelt down before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all that you have, and give the proceeds to the poor—and you will have treasure in heaven—and come, follow me.” But he looked gloomy at the statement and went away sorrowful, because he had many possessions.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it is for those who possess wealth to enter into the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astounded at his words. But Jesus answered and said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” And they were very astounded, saying to one another, “And who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields on account of me and on account of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times as much now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, together with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Reflection

The law says, You shall not commit adultery; but you may not even desire—kindling passion by curious and earnest looks. You shall not kill, says the law; but you are not even to return a blow. On the contrary, you are to offer yourself to the smiter. How much more ascetic is the gospel than the law! You shall not swear is the law; but you are not to swear at all, either a greater or a lesser oath, for an oath is the parent of perjury. You shall not join house to house, nor field to field, oppressing the poor; but you are to set aside willingly even your just possessions, and to be stripped for the poor, that without hindrance you may take up the cross and be enriched with the unseen riches.

—Gregory Nazianzen

Select Orations of Saint Gregory Nazianzen

Response

What cares of this world have you elevated above following Jesus? Sometimes we prioritize even good things above our call to discipleship. Pray that your desire to follow Jesus would trump all of the good things in your life.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Friday

Confession: Psalm 130:1–4

Out of the depths I call to you, O Yahweh.

“O Lord, hear my voice.

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications.

If you, O Yah, should keep track of iniquities,

O Lord, who could stand?

But with you is forgiveness,

so that you may be feared.”

Reading: Mark 10:13–16

And they were bringing young children to him so that he could touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the young children come to me. Do not forbid them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a young child will never enter into it.” And after taking them into his arms, he blessed them, placing his hands on them.

Reflection

When our Lord blessed the little children, He was making His last journey to Jerusalem. It was thus a farewell blessing which He gave to the little ones. It reminds us that among His parting words to His disciples, before He was taken up, we find the tender charge, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15). The ruling passion was strong upon the great Shepherd of Israel, who “will gather the lambs in his arm[s], and he will carry them in his bosom” (Isa 40:11); and it was fitting that while He was making His farewell journey, He should bestow His gracious benediction upon the children.

Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ is not here among us in person; but we know where He is, and we know that He is clothed with all power in heaven and in earth to bless His people. Let us then draw near to Him this day. Let us seek His touch in the form of fellowship and ask the aid of His intercession.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

As a Little Child

Response

Jesus says we must welcome in the kingdom of God like a child. What areas of your life are marked by self-sufficiency? Is your posture like that of a child—totally relient on God and receptive to Him?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 25:16–18

Turn to me and have mercy on me

because I am lonely and afflicted.

Remove the troubles of my heart;

bring me out from my distresses.

Consider my affliction and trouble,

and forgive all my sins.

Reading: Mark 10:1–12

And from there he set out and came to the region of Judea and the other side of the Jordan, and again crowds came together to him. And again, as he was accustomed to do, he began to teach them. And they asked him if it was permitted for a man to divorce his wife, in order to test him. And he answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” So they said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” But Jesus said to them, “He wrote this commandment for you because of your hardness of heart. But from the beginning of creation ‘he made them male and female. Because of this a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,’ so that they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

And in the house again the disciples began to ask him about this. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Reflection

See a teacher’s wisdom.… By His argument He showed that it was the commandment of His Father, and that not in opposition to Moses did He command these things, but in full agreement with him. Notice Him arguing strongly not only from the creation, but also from His command. For He not only said that He made one man and one woman only, but that He also gave this command that the one man should be joined to the one woman.… But now both by the manner of the creation, and by the manner of lawgiving, He showed that one man must dwell with one woman continually, and never break off from her.

—John Chrysostom

Homolies of St. John Chrysostom

Response

Jesus comes with authority. How are you eager for Him to reign in all parts of your life—your relationships, your work, your thoughts, and your goals?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 25:11–15

Also, for the sake of your name, O Yahweh,

forgive my sin, because it is great.

Who is the man fearing Yahweh?

He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

His soul will lodge in prosperity,

and his offspring will possess the land.

Intimate fellowship with Yahweh is for those who fear him,

and he makes known his covenant to them.

My eyes are continually toward Yahweh,

because he will take my feet from the net.

Reading: Mark 9:42–50

“And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it is better for him if instead a large millstone is placed around his neck and he is thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than, having two hands, to go into hell—into the unquenchable fire! And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life lame than, having two feet, to be thrown into hell! And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out! It is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than, having two eyes, to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not extinguished.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt becomes deprived of its salt content, by what can you make it salty? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Reflection

There is a perfect cure for all the ills that man is heir to. There is a cure that is sovereign, sufficient, sure, and speedy. Jesus Christ announced that cure long ago, but the overwhelming majority of men and women have not listened, and so our evils, miseries, and despair continue. You will find that our Lord Jesus Christ proposed the cure for all our ills in Matthew 11:28–30, “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to carry and my burden is light.” Christ Jesus Himself is the cure for all our evils. He came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He does it for all who receive Him. Poverty, sickness, bereavement, failure, bitterness of heart, despair, and death—as well as sin and unbelief—are all works of the devil. We can have done with them by coming to Jesus, the Christ of God.

I propose to take up these various evils and show how Jesus, the Christ of God, is the cure for them all and how each one of us may be done with them right now.

—R. A. Torrey

The Gospel for Today

Response

What sins are present in your life right now? Ask your spouse or a trusted friend in your church community to help you recognize and address these sins. Pray that God would shed light on the darkness in your life and use you to spread light.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 25:6–10

Remember your compassion, O Yahweh,

and your acts of loyal love,

because they are from of old.

Do not remember

the sins of my youth or my transgressions.

According to your loyal love remember me if you will,

for the sake of your goodness, O Yahweh.

Good and right is Yahweh;

therefore he instructs sinners in the way.

He causes the humble to walk in justice,

and teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of Yahweh are loyal love and faithfulness

for those who keep his covenant and statutes.

Reading: Mark 9:33–41

And they came to Capernaum. And after he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they were silent, because they had argued with one another on the way about who was greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he will be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a young child and had him stand among them. And taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of the young children such as these in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but the one who sent me.”

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone expelling demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not prevent him, because there is no one who does a miracle in my name and will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in my name because you are Christ’s, truly I say to you that he will never lose his reward.”

Reflection

What do we intend to do as a Church for Christ Jesus, “whom the king wishes to honor” (Esther 6:6)? Let me answer briefly.

Believe Him. Christ is always very pleased with His people’s faith. Beloved, confide in Him. Tell Him your troubles. Pour out your hearts before Him. Trust the merit of His blood, the power of His arm, the love of His heart. There is no box of precious ointment whose smell will more delight Him than your simple, unwavering faith.

He is a God of love: If you would give Him something choice, show Him your love. Let your heart go after Him, and with the arms of your love embrace Him.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

What Shall Be Done for Jesus?

Response

Jesus ushers in the kingdom of God. The ways of this kingdom often defy our ambitions and expectations. During this season of Lent, how are God’s ways overtaking your ways? Pray for the trust and love of a child. Pray that you would be a willing and humble disciple.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Monday

Confession: Psalm 25:1–5

To you, O Yahweh, I lift up my soul.

O my God, I trust you; let me not be put to shame.

Do not let my enemies exult over me.

Indeed, none who wait for you should be put to shame.

Those who betray without cause should be put to shame.

Make me know your ways, O Yahweh.

Teach me your paths.

Cause me to walk in your truth and teach me,

because you are the God of my salvation.

I await you all day long.

Reading: Mark 9:30–32

And from there they went out and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples and was telling them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the statement, and they were afraid to ask him.

Reflection

Oh, do not forget to admire infinitely more the dear Lord Jesus, that promised seed. He willingly said, “Lo, I come,” though under no obligation so to do, “to do your will,” to obey and die for men, “O God!” Did you weep just now, when I bid you fancy you saw the altar, the wood laid in order, and Isaac laid bound on the altar? Look by faith. Behold the blessed Jesus, our all-glorious Emmanuel—not bound, but nailed on a cursed tree. See how he hangs crowned with thorns and in derision of all that are around Him. See how the thorns pierce Him, and how the blood in purple streams trickle down His sacred temples! Hark how the God of nature groans! See how He bows His head, and at length humanity gives up the ghost! Isaac is saved, but Jesus, the God of Isaac, dies. A ram is offered up in Isaac’s room, but Jesus has no substitute. Jesus must bleed. Jesus must die. God the Father provided this Lamb for himself from all eternity. He must be offered in time, or man must be damned for evermore.

And now, where are your tears? Shall I say, refrain your voice from weeping? No; rather let me exhort you to look to Him whom you have pierced. Mourn as a woman mourneth for her first-born. For we have been the betrayers, and we have been the murderers of this Lord of glory. Shall we not bewail those sins, which brought the blessed Jesus to the accursed tree? Having so much done, so much suffered for us, so much forgiven, shall we not love much! Oh! let us love Him with all our hearts, and minds, and strength, and glorify Him in our souls and bodies, for they are His.

—George Whitefield

Abraham’s Offering Up His Son Isaac

Response

Christ willingly died for you and has forgiven you. Consider the paths you have turned from and the roads that you are treading on right now. Pray that you would do everything out of love for Him and a desire to use your time for Him.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week of Ash Wednesday – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 51:13–19

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

and sinners will turn back to you.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed,

O God, the God of my salvation;

then my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good in your favor toward Zion.

Build the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices,

burnt offering and whole burnt offering.

Then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Reading: Mark 9:14–29

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. And immediately the whole crowd, when they saw him, were amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And one individual from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought to you my son who has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes paralyzed. And I told your disciples that they should expel it, and they were not able to do so.”

And he answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to me!” And they brought him to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately convulsed him, and falling on the ground, he began to roll around, foaming at the mouth. And he asked his father how long it was since this had been happening to him. And he said, “From childhood. And often it has thrown him both into fire and into water, in order that it could destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us!” But Jesus said to him, “If you are able! All things are possible for the one who believes!” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

Now when Jesus saw that a crowd was running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and enter into him no more!” And it came out, screaming and convulsing him greatly, and he became as if he were dead, so that most of them said, “He has died!” But Jesus took hold of his hand and raised him up, and he stood up. And after he had entered into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why were we not able to expel it?” And he said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing except by prayer.”

Reflection

The praying sinner receives mercy because his prayer is grounded on the promise of pardon made by Him whose right it is to pardon guilty sinners. The penitent seeker after God obtains mercy because there is a definite promise of mercy to all who seek the Lord in repentance and faith. Prayer always brings forgiveness to the seeking soul. The abundant pardon is dependent upon the promise made real by the promise of God to the sinner.

While salvation is promised to him who believes, the believing sinner is always a praying sinner.… “Behold he prays” is not only the unfailing sign of sincerity and the evidence that the sinner is proceeding in the right way to find God, but it is the prophecy of abundant pardon. Get the sinner to praying according to the divine promise, and he then is near the kingdom of God. The very best sign of the returning prodigal is that he confesses his sins and begins to ask for the lowliest place in his father’s house.

It is the divine promise of mercy, of forgiveness and of adoption which gives the poor sinner hope. This encourages him to pray. This moves him in distress to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me” (Luke 18:38).

—E. M. Bounds

The Possibilities of Prayer

Response

Like the father of the child in Mark 9:14–29 and the prodigal son—needy and at the end of themselves—may you, too, cry out, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” Confess your sin today, seek God, and know that you find mercy because He is merciful.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week of Ash Wednesday – Friday

Confession: Psalm 51:9–12

Hide your face from my sins,

and all my iniquities blot out.

Create a clean heart for me, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,

and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and with a willing spirit sustain me.

Reading: Mark 9:2–13

And after six days, Jesus took along Peter and James and John, and led them to a high mountain by themselves alone. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothing became radiant—extremely white, like no cloth refiner on earth can make so white. And Elijah appeared to them together with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! And let us make three shelters, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (For he did not know what he should answer, because they were terrified.) And a cloud came, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him!” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus alone.

And as they were coming down from the mountain, he ordered them that they should tell no one the things that they had seen, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. And they kept the matter to themselves, discussing what this rising from the dead meant. And they asked him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And he said to them, “Elijah indeed does come first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that indeed Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they wanted, just as it is written about him.”

Reflection

If other men cannot read our motives, we ought at least to examine them carefully for ourselves. Day by day, with extreme rigour, must we search our hearts. Motive is vital to the goodness of an action. He who gives his body to be burned might yet lose his soul if his ruling passion were obstinacy and not desire for God’s glory. Self may be sought under many disguises, and a man may be utterly unaware that thus he is losing all acceptance with God.

We must not impute ill motives to others, but we must be equally clear of another more fascinating habit—that of imputing good motives to ourselves. Severity in estimating our own personal character very seldom becomes excessive; our partiality is usually more or less blinding to our judgment. We will not suspect ourselves if we can help it; evidence must be very powerful before it can convince us of being governed by sordid aims. The stream of generosity does not always spring from gratitude to God. Zeal is not at all times the offspring of deep-seated faith. Even devotional habits may be fostered by something other than holy affections. The highest wisdom suggests that we spend much patient and impartial consideration upon a matter so fundamental as the heart’s intent in the actions which it directs. “If your eye is sincere, your whole body will be full of light” (Matt 6:22). Dear reader, stand by your inner springs and watch, and make faithful notes of what you see, lest you be deceived.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

Springs Uncovered

Response

Do you know yourself for who you truly are? This knowledge is not an end in itself, nor does it end with ourselves. Truly knowing ourselves means we are constantly fleeing to Jesus. Set time aside daily to honestly examine the motives of your heart and then turn to God in prayer.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week of Ash Wednesday – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 51:5–8

Behold, in iniquity I was born,

and in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward parts,

and in the hidden parts you make me to know wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Reading: Mark 8:34–9:1

And summoning the crowd together with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of me and of the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a person give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

And he said to them, “Truly I say to you, that there are some of those standing here who will never experience death until they see the kingdom of God having come with power.”

Reflection

Some are saying, Oh that the world was crucified to me and I to the world! Oh that my heart were as dead as a stone to the world and alive to Jesus! Do you truly wish it? Look, then, to the cross. Behold the amazing gift of love.… Sit down like Mary, and gaze upon a crucified Jesus. Then will the world become a dim and dying thing. When you gaze upon the sun, it makes everything else dark; when you taste honey, it makes everything else tasteless; so when your soul feeds on Jesus, it takes away the sweetness of all earthly things—praise, pleasure, and fleshly lusts all lose their sweetness. Keep a continued gaze. Run, looking unto Jesus. Look, till the way of salvation by Jesus fills up the whole horizon, so glorious and peace-speaking. Then will the world be crucified to you, and you unto the world.

—Robert McCheyne

Glorifying in the Cross

Response

Has the cross changed the desires of your heart? During the season of Lent, many choose to fast or refrain from certain practices. If you have done so, are you focusing your gaze upon the cross?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week of Ash Wednesday – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 51:1–4

Be gracious to me, O God, according to your loyal love.

According to your abundant mercies,

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and from my sin cleanse me.

For I myself know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, only you, I have sinned

and have done this evil in your eyes,

so that you are correct when you speak,

you are blameless when you judge.

Reading: Mark 8:27–33

And Jesus and his disciples went out to the villages of Caesarea Philippi, and on the way he asked his disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, saying, “John the Baptist, and others Elijah, and others that you are one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to him, “You are the Christ!” And he warned them that they should tell no one about him.

And he began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be killed, and after three days to rise. And he was speaking openly about the subject, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning around and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan, because you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but the things of people!”

Reflection

If Peter … was called a stumbling-block by Jesus—as not minding the things of God in what he said but the things of men—what is to be said about all those who profess to be made disciples of Jesus, but do not mind the things of God? [What is to be said about those who] do not look to things unseen and eternal, (but mind the things of man) and look to things seen and temporal? Would they be seen by Jesus as a stumbling block to Him, and because they are stumbling blocks to Him, as stumbling blocks to His followers also? In regard to them He says, “I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,” so also He might say, “When I was running you caused me to stumble.” Let us not therefore suppose that it is a trivial sin to mind the things of men—since we ought in everything to mind the things of God.

—Origen

Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

Response

How are you mindful of the “things of people”? Are you harboring mindsets, possessions, goals, and desires that are incompatible with God and His kingdom? Make a list of these things and pray about them.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 42:11

Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, because I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Reading: Mark 16:1–20

And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased fragrant spices so that they could go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they came to the tomb after the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away (for it was very large). And as they were going into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here! See the place where they laid him! But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, because trembling and amazement had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

So they promptly reported all the things they had been commanded to those around Peter. And after these things, Jesus himself also sent out through them from the east even as far as the west the holy and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

Now early on the first day of the week, after he rose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had expelled seven demons. She went out and announced it to those who were with him while they were mourning and weeping. And those, when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, refused to believe it. And after these things, he appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking, while they were going out into the countryside. And these went and reported it to the others, and they did not believe them. And later, while they were reclining at table, he appeared to the eleven. And he reprimanded their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him after he had been raised. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who refuses to believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will expel demons, they will speak in new tongues, they will pick up snakes. And if they drink any deadly poison it will never hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will get well.”

Then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord was working together with them and confirming the message through the accompanying signs.

Reflection

He that abides in Christ the crucified one learns to know what it is to be crucified with Him—and in Him to be indeed dead unto sin. He that abides in Christ the risen and glorified one becomes in the same way partaker of His resurrection life, and of the glory with which He has now been crowned in heaven. Unspeakable are the blessings which flow to the soul from the union with Jesus in His glorified life.

This life is a life of perfect victory and rest. Before His death, the Son of God had to suffer and to struggle. He could be tempted and troubled by sin and its assaults. As the risen one, He has triumphed over sin. And, as the glorified one, His humanity has entered into participation of the glory of deity. The believer who abides in Him as such is led to see how the power of sin and the flesh are indeed destroyed. The consciousness of complete and everlasting deliverance becomes increasingly clear. The blessed rest and peace—the fruit of such a conviction that victory and deliverance are an accomplished fact—take possession of the life. Abiding in Jesus, in whom he has been raised and set in the heavenly places, he receives of that glorious life streaming from the head through every member of the body.

—Andrew Murray

Abide in Christ

Response

Christ has defeated death! If you abide in Christ, you are a partaker of His resurrection life. Spend time today—every day—praising Him for this new life. Jesus leaves His disciples with words of encouragement and empowerment. How do you see His commission playing out in your own life? What steps do you take to fulfill it?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Friday

Confession: Psalm 86:1–5

Incline, O Yahweh, your ear and answer me,

because I am poor and needy.

Watch over my life because I am faithful.

You are my God; save your servant.

I am the one who trusts you.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,

because I call to you all day long.

Make glad the soul of your servant,

because I desire you, O Lord.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

and abundant in loyal love for all who call to you.

Reading: Mark 15:42–47

And when it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the council who was also himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came acting courageously and went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate was surprised that he was already dead, and summoning the centurion, asked him whether he had died already. And when he learned of it from the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And after purchasing a linen cloth and taking him down, he wrapped him in the linen cloth and placed him in a tomb that had been cut from the rock. And he rolled a stone over the entrance of the tomb. Now Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was placed.

Reflection

Consider that gratitude and thankfulness is the best service—being the end of all other worship—and is God’s due. It is the end why God gives matter and means by which, and for which, we should be thankful. Nothing is more beneficial than thankfulness, nor anything more mischievous than unthankfulness. Consider also that hearty and constant thankfulness is a testimony of uprightness; it excellently becomes the upright to be thankful. It is all the homage, and all the service which God requires at your hands, for all the good that He bestows on you. It is pleasant and delightful. It is possible and easy through the grace of God’s Spirit.…

Thankfulness elevates and enlarges the soul, making it fruitful in good works beyond any other duty. For the thankful man is often consulting with himself what he shall render to the Lord for all His benefits to him. This spiritual praise and thanks to God by Christ is the beginning of heaven upon earth—being part of that communion and fellowship which saints and angels have with God above. It is that everlasting service, which endures forever.

—Henry Scudder

The Christian’s Daily Walk

Response

Is thankfulness your first response to Christ’s saving work? Spend time today—Good Friday—reading and reflecting on Mark 15. Then, turn to God in prayer.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.