Tag Archives: Prophecy

I Serve a Risen Savior! (John 20)

Scripture reading – John 20

We are once again privileged to reflect on the stunning revelation of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead (John 20). Like the Synoptics, we find John’s Gospel in perfect harmony with Matthew, Mark, and Luke (a wonderful testimony to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

John was an eyewitness of Jesus’ life, ministry, and agonizing death on the Cross (John 19:33-35). What a blessed joy to share in his firsthand account of Christ’s resurrection, and His physical appearances that followed Him being raised from the dead! I believe John remained near the Cross until Jesus “bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (19:30, 35). With love and compassion, he led Mary, the mother of Jesus from the Cross (19:26-27), as other women followed Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38-39), who placed the body of Jesus in Joseph’s tomb (John 19:39).

John 20

The other Gospel writers focused on two or more women who found the tomb empty, John, however, focused on Mary Magdalene (20:1). She came to the tomb early on the first day of the week, “when it was yet dark” (20:1). Much to her grief, she found the stone that sealed the tomb was “taken away from the sepulchre” (20:1). Without waiting on the other women, she left the tomb hastily, and ran to “Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, who Jesus loved” (John’s typical reference to himself, 20:2).

Mary left before the angels revealed themselves to her, and thought the worst had happened. Supposing Jesus’ body was stolen, she said to Peter and John, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (20:2b). Peter and John ran to the sepulchre, and the latter apparently being younger, came to the tomb first and stood without peering inside (20:4-5). Peter entered the tomb, and found it empty, and the linens that had wrapped Jesus’ body in place, and the napkin that had been about his head “in a place by itself” (20:7).

Peter was perplexed, for if the body had been stolen by Jesus’ enemies, surely, they would have taken it away wrapped as it had been buried. Though the Lord had often foretold His death and resurrection, those disciples did not understand “the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (20:9). We read how Peter and John departed, and “went away again unto their own home” (20:10).

Mary lingered “at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre” (20:11). She “seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (20:12). The angels asked Mary, “Woman, why weepest thou?” (20:13). Because they appeared as men, she did not yet understand they were angels (20:13). In her anguish, Mary confessed, “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him” (20:13).

Then, turning from the tomb, Mary came face-to-face with Jesus. With her eyes clouded by tears, she did not recognize Him and supposed he was a garden keeper (20:15). Jesus then asked her, “Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?” (20:15). Mary implored Him, saying, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away” (20:15).

Jesus then said her name, “Mary,” and her heart resonated with joy and affection. She answered Jesus, and said, “Rabboni; which is to say, Master” (Rabboni being a title of honor and deep respect, 20:16).

Closing thoughts (20:17-18) – Of all men and women, Jesus chose to first appear to Mary (Mark 16:9). Imagine Mary’s profound joy when she understood Jesus was more than an apparition! Surely, she might have clung to Him out of joy, but He said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (20:17). Obeying Jesus, Mary departed immediately and “came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her” (20:18).

Like many who hear, but refuse to believe, the disciples doubted Mary and the accounts of the other women. When Jesus appeared to His disciples that evening, He rebuked them for “their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen” (Mark 16:14). Of course, Thomas even doubted the witness of the disciples (20:24-29).

I close, inviting you to put your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, raised from the dead, and victorious over sin and the grave! (20:31)

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Eyewitness Accounts of Christ’s Resurrection (Mark 16; Luke 24)

Scripture reading – Mark 16; Luke 24

With the cry, “It is finished,” Jesus “bowed His head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30). Soldiers were ordered to hasten the deaths of those on the crosses, and they broke the legs of the thieves to speed along their demise. When they came to Jesus, they found He was already dead. Rather than break his legs, a soldier thrust his spear through Christ’s side (John 19:34-37), and thus fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy, “they shall look upon me whom they pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).

Departing Golgotha

The chief priests, Pharisees, and scribes, must have been the first to leave Golgotha. Like politicians, they had plotted Jesus’ death, and stirred the people to consent, crying, “Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:13-14; Luke 23:21; John 19:6, 15). Those who lifted their voices against Jesus, went to their homes with hands stained with the blood of an innocent, sinless man. Spiritually blind, they observed the Passover, not understanding they had sacrificed the “Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ (John 1:29, 36).

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who “had not consented to the counsel (Sanhedrin) and deed of them” (Luke 23:51), had gone to Pilate and courageously “begged the body of Jesus” (Luke 23:52). With love and tenderness, he claimed Jesus’ lifeless body, and “wrapped it in linen, and laid it” in his sepulchre (Luke 23:53). With the tomb sealed and guards posted, the high priests and elders were confident the tomb was secure. They had done what they could to ensure Jesus’ followers would not steal His body, and then claim He had been raised from the dead as He had taught (Matthew 27:62-66).

He is Risen! (Mark 16; Luke 24:44-49)

We have considered the historical details that give numerous proofs concerning the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Matthew 28). Mark 16:1-14 and Luke 24:1-12 offer us a perspective of their authors, and together the absolute harmony of the greatest event in human history… “Jesus was risen early the first day of the week” and He appeared to Mary Magdalene (16:9), two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus (16:12; Luke 24:13-32), and then to “the eleven as they sat at meat” (16:14).

The fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead forever changed the lives of His disciples.  They were commissioned to preach the news of Christ’s suffering for sin (24:26), and to preach in His name a message of repentance and remission of sins “among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (24:47). Of those things, Jesus commanded, “ye are witnesses of these things” (24:48). With a blessing, and promise they would go in His power and authority, Jesus ascended to heaven (24:50-51). The hearts of the disciples were filled with joy, and “they worshipped” Him, “and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God” (24:53). With the exception of John who was exiled (Revelation 1), each of the disciples faced a martyr’s death. Yet, their tongues could not be silenced, and each died giving testimony that they served a risen Savior!

Closing thoughts – Christ’s resurrection was the pinnacle moment in God’s redemptive plan. Jesus was crucified, died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day was raised from the dead as He foretold. His sacrificial death paid the penalty of sin in full (Romans 6:23), and His resurrection promises hope to all who believe.

I close with the apostle John’s eyewitness testimony:

1 John 5:1313 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Is Jesus Christ your Savior?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Ending was Just the Beginning! (Matthew 28)

Scripture reading – Matthew 28

Our chronological study of the Gospel of Matthew concludes today with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the commissioning of the disciples (less Judas who betrayed Him) to “Go…teach all nations” (28:19).

The Greatest News: “He is Risen, As He Said” (28:1-6)

“Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary” had followed Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to see the place where the body of Jesus was laid (27:61). When the Sabbath was past, several women began making their way to Christ’s tomb to anoint His body (although Matthew named only two in his Gospel, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary,” 28:1). Matthew records “there was a great earthquake [and] the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it” (28:2). The sight of the angel, whose “countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (28:3) terrified the guards who “did shake, and became as dead men” (28:4).

When the women arrived at the tomb where Jesus had been buried, they found it open, and an angel waiting. Luke identified two angels in his Gospel (Luke 24:4-5); however, Matthew only mentions the one who spoke to the women, and said, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified” (28:5). Calming their fears, the angel communicated an extraordinary message that not only changed their lives, but changed the course of history forever. The angel “said unto the women, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (28:5-6).

The Greatest Privilege (28:7-10)

With the command, “go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead” (28:7), a small handful of faithful women were entrusted with the greatest privilege…to tell others Christ was risen from the dead! As those same women departed, they came face-to-face with the risen Christ, who saluted them with the words, “All hail” (28:9). Imagine the joy, the hope, the emotions when they saw Christ! They fell before Him, and “held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (28:9). He then comforted them with the words, “Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” (28:10).

The Great Dilemma (28:11-15)

The news of Christ’s resurrection was celebrated by the women, and the “eleven disciples [who] went away into Galilee” (28:16). Yet, when the soldiers reported to the chief priests “all the things that were done” (28:11), the religious leaders set in motion a plot that we would refer to today as “damage control” (28:11). No effort was made to locate Jesus, instead, the Sanhedrin was assembled and it was determined there was only two possible explanations for why the body was not in the tomb: either Christ rose bodily from the dead, or His body was stolen (28:12).

The elders then bribed the soldiers with a great sum of money, and charged them to say, “His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept” (28:13). A solider sleeping at his post was deemed a capital punishment offense, but the Jewish leaders urged the guards to lie, and assured them, “if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you” (28:14). The soldiers agreed to the bribe, “took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” (28:15).

The Greatest Mission (28:16-20)

Our study of the Gospel of Matthew concludes with the disciples receiving their commission to spearhead the greatest mission of all…to tell the news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to the nations. With the assurance of Christ’s power and authority, the disciples were given a threefold mission that would be for all people, races, and nations:

Matthew 28:19–2019Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

“Behold the Man!” (John 18; John 19)

Scripture reading – John 18; John 19

Our devotional readings in the Synoptic Gospels have followed Christ from His last supper (Passover) with the disciples, through Judas’ betrayal and His arrest (Matthew 26:47-49; Mark 14:43-45; Luke 22:47-49). Each human author brought his own perspective, and yet all are in harmony as they recount the trials that followed Jesus’ arrest (Matthew 26:57-27:25; Mark 14:53-15; Luke 22:54-25).

John 18 – Jesus Betrayed, Arrested, and Tried

In his Gospel, the apostle John rendered an eyewitness account of Christ’s betrayal by Judas, and arrest (18:1-11). Jesus had warned Peter, he would deny Him three times before the crowing of a rooster announced the morning sunrise (13:36-38). Tragically, Peter fulfilled that prophecy (18:15-18, 25-27), and when he heard the cock crow, he went out and “wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75; Luke 22:62).

Altogether, Jesus faced six trails before He was condemned to be crucified. The initial trials occurred while it was yet dark, with Annas, the former high priest presiding over the first (18:12-14). John did not record the second trial before the high priest Caiaphas, nor the trial before the Sanhedrin (though all were agreed Jesus must die). John picked up the narrative of Jesus’ trials with Jesus being led “from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment” (18:28).

Because it was the Passover, the religious leaders refused to enter Pilate’s Hall, lest they be ceremonially defiled (of course, those same hypocrites were plotting to stain their hands with Christ’s blood, 18:28). Pilate committed several legal maneuvers in an attempt to put a distance between himself, and the Jews’ demands that Jesus, an innocent man be put to death. He heard the accusations, nevertheless, judged Jesus had committed no crime that demanded His death (18:29-40).

When Pilate agreed to free a prisoner in honor of the Passover, he asked, “will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” (18:39) Instead of Christ, the people were stirred by the chief priests to say, “Not this man [Christ], but Barabbas” (18:40). John wrote, “Now Barabbas was a robber” (18:40). So, Barabbas, an insurrectionist, murderer and robber, was set free as the Jews demanded.

John 19 – Jesus Scourged, Scorned, and Crucified

Hoping to appease the murderous Jews, Pilate ordered Jesus be scourged by his solders, who then “platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head” (19:1-2). “They put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands” (19:2b-3). Pilate declared to the mob, “I find no fault in him” (19:4), and then brought “Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” (19:5)

The sight of Jesus beaten, and bloodied did not dissuade the crowd’s thirst for innocent blood. The chief priests and Sanhedrin officers cried out the more, “Crucify him, crucify him” (19:6). Hoping to devoid himself of responsibility for crucifying Jesus, “Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him” (19:6). Hypocritically, the Jews asserted, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God” (19:7).

Pilate was troubled when he heard Jesus had “made Himself the Son of God” (19:7). He questioned Jesus, saying, “Whence art thou?” (19:12) Implying, who are you? From where have you come?

When Jesus did not answer, Pilate was offended, and declared, “knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” (19:10) Then, Jesus rebuked Pilate, and asserted the sovereignty of God, and said to him, “Thou couldest have no power [no right; no authority] at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (19:11).

Closing thoughts (19:14-42) – Convinced Jesus was innocent, Pilate exhausted every means to release Jesus, until he succumbed to the pressure of the mob. When he declared to the people, “Behold your King!” (19:14), they answered, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him” (19:15).

The scene at the Cross, and its fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 53) will be addressed at another time. For now, I close with a simple observation: Christ died on the cross that was intended to be Barabbas’ place of execution. Pilate, representing civil authority and the power to give or take life, judged Jesus was innocent, and by right should have been set free. Tragically, the Roman procurator made the fateful decision to not only crucify an innocent man, but sealed the fate of his own soul.

By dying on a cross reserved for a murderer, Jesus completed the portrait of a sinless, substitutionary sacrifice. He was innocent, and yet, He died not only in the place of Barabbas, but because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), He died for the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Is He your Savior? (Romans 10:13)

 * You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Inquisition of Jesus, and a Cross-Bearer (Mark 15; Luke 23)

Scripture reading – Mark 15; Luke 23

The Middle East has always been a boiling caldron mixed with violence, rebellion, and nation seeking to conquer nation.  In Jesus’ day, the Romans were imposing their “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace) on Israel, but many Jews were unhappy under Rome’s oppression. They despised paying Roman taxes and disdained the presence of Roman soldiers.

For Rome, the threat of rebellion was constant and no Roman official was more efficient at putting down insurrection than Pilate, the Roman procurator appointed by Caesar Tiberius. Pilate’s harsh rule fueled rebellion and fanned revolution among the people. The news of his excessive cruelties even reached to the ears of Caesar.

Trials under the cloak of darkness were illegal, and forbidden by the law, but the chief priests, elders, and scribes were not interested in the smallest pretense of justice or law. Their goal was to see Jesus put to death, and the slightest formality would not stand in their way. The Gospel of John recorded the first trial held covertly in the darkness of the night. Annas, the former high priest and father-in-law of the ruling high priest, was the presiding judge (John 18:12-23). The second trial, as illegal as the first, was held before Caiaphas, the current high priest (Matthew 26:57-68).

The Inquisition Before Pilate (15:1-15)

The third trial occurred “straightway in the morning” (15:1), and was before the Sanhedrin, the 70-member tribunal that consisted of the high priest, elders, scribes, and other wealthy Jewish leaders. Having ruled Jesus must be put to death, but lacking the authority to do so under Roman law, the “whole council” “delivered [Jesus] to Pilate” for sentencing (15:1b).

Pilate entertained the accusations against Jesus that were brought by the chief priests, elders and scribes. The powerful Roman procurator was amazed Jesus was silent, and refused to answer His accusers (15:2-5).  Pilate understood Jesus’ adversaries were not interested in justice, and were motivated by “envy” and spite (15:10). He unsuccessfully attempted to free Jesus from the entanglement of Jewish injustice (15:6-9).

Because there was a tradition to free a prisoner during the Passover, Pilate suggested Jesus be freed (15:9). Yet, the chief priests stirred up the people to demand he “release Barabbas unto them” (15:11), a notorious robber, insurrectionist and murderer (15:7, 11).

A Travesty of Judgment: Innocence Condemned (15:14-20)

Though he declared Jesus to be innocent, saying, “I find no fault” in Him (Luke 23:4), Pilate nevertheless yielded to the cry of the bloodthirsty mob (15:14). He made the fateful decision against his own soul, and “willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified” (15:15).

The Lord’s fate being decided, Roman soldiers led Jesus to a judgment hall called the Praetorium (15:16). They called “together the whole band” of soldiers (some 40-60 men), and began to mock and humiliate Jesus (15:16). They adorned Him in a robe of purple, “and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about His head” (15:17). They mocked and hailed him as, “King of the Jews!” (15:18). They struck Him about the head, spat upon Him, and made a pretense of “bowing their knees” and worshipping Jesus (15:19). Stripping Him of the purple robe, they then “led Him out to crucify Him” (15:20).

Simon a Cyrenian: Bearer of Christ’s Cross (15:21-22)

The scourging, beatings, and loss of blood had left Jesus weakened and unable to bear the beam of the Cross to Golgotha (the place of the skull, 15:22). Along the way, a man named “Simon a Cyrenian” was compelled to assist Jesus with His Cross (15:21). It is on that fact; I invite you to pause and ponder a question: “What became of Simon after he helped bear the cross on which Jesus was crucified?” 

I invite you to consider Mark 15:21 to address that question: “And they [the Roman soldiers] compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross” (15:21).

Mark gave the names of Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus. First century believers apparently knew those men. It is only my speculation, but I wonder if Alexander and Rufus, like their father Simon, became believers and followers of Christ. I cannot prove that point; however, of the thousands saved following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the mention of that father and his sons by name, gives me hope they were well known believers in that day.

Closing thoughts (15:27-34) – I do not know what became of Simon after he bore the cross to Golgotha, but I like to think he stood near the cross and observed Jesus, an innocent, sinless man, dying and bearing the sins of those who crucified Him.  Simon’s Passover pilgrimage from Cyrene (northwest Africa, our modern Libya) providentially led him to the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36).

Have you been to Golgotha, the place the Romans called Calvary? Have you gazed upon the man dying in the midst of two thieves (15:27-28; Isaiah 53:9a)?  Have you listened as the crowd cried for His crucifixion, listened as He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34)?  Behold the man, not only forsaken by those whom He loved, but in the darkness praying as He bears the penalty of our sins, praying, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

Is He your Savior? If not, I invite you to confess you are a sinner, and “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Innocence Betrayed: Jesus Tried and Condemned (Matthew 27)

Scripture reading – Matthew 27

Rich with drama, the passage we are reading today brings us to the spiritual crossroads of human history. This is God’s redemptive plan of salvation for man’s sin, conceived in the heart of our Creator before the foundation of the world was laid (Ephesians 1:4-5; 1 Peter 1:18-20). Our devotional could focus on many aspects of Jesus’ path to the Cross; however, I will limit myself to one thought: Judas: his remorse, and death.

Judas: Remorse is Not Repentance (27:1-10)

The chief priests and Sanhedrin had tried and condemned Jesus to die (Matthew 27:1-2). They led Him away to the Roman governor’s palace where Pontius Pilate held court, and where Jesus would be tried, and sentenced to death by civil authority.

Judas watched the proceedings with regret, and the effect of his betrayal brought a wave of remorse over his soul (27:3). Perhaps it was when they led Jesus away to be tried by Pilate (27:2), that he realized the treachery of his betrayal. How could one privileged to be numbered among Christ’s Twelve, betray Him into the hands of His enemies? How could Judas, after enjoying the intimacy of Jesus’ company, now be His enemy? When they took Jesus away, Judas did not confess, “I made a mistake.” No, he said, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (27:4). Nevertheless, Judas was like so many; a follower, but not a believer that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Poor, sad, miserable soul. Judas realized too late the scorn those religious hypocrites held not only for Jesus, but for him. They answered him with contempt, saying, “What is that to us? see thou to that” (27:4b). Those religious pretenders cared nothing for Judas’ soul, nor did they offer him counsel (27:5a). He realized too late there was no place, and no one to whom he could go to find relief for his wickedness. Unable to bear the weight of his sin, and betrayal of “innocent blood” (27:4a), Judas realized no act of contrition could ease his guilt. Casting down the thirty pieces of silver, he fled through the streets of Jerusalem, “and went and hanged himself” (27:5b; Acts 1:16-19).

Magnifying their hypocrisy (for they were determined to kill Jesus), those religious leaders disingenuously debated the lawful expenditure of blood money, the silver Judas had hurled at them (27:6b). In an effort to conceal their sin, the chief priests and elders proposed an act of charity, and purchased “the potter’s field, to bury strangers in” (27:8). Unknowingly, they fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah (27:9-10) that was recorded by Zechariah, saying: “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord” (Zechariah 11:12–13). The public would later learn the secret of their purchase, and did call the place, “The field of blood” (27:8).

Closing thoughts – What sorrow and depravity. There was no justice that day, instead all was a charade of justice and pseudo-piety! Yet, such is the way of the wicked. Too many learn too late, the sorrow of remorse is not sincere repentance. Judas confessed to the religious leaders, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (27:4); however, he failed to confess his sin to God. Judas found himself in a state of hopelessness. His remorse was too little, and his repentance came too late.

Friend, don’t make that mortal mistake. I invite you to confess your sin to God, and turn to Him knowing Christ has borne the penalty of your sin on the Cross.

1 John 5:11–1311 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

What Manner of Man is This? (Mark 14; Luke 22)

Scripture reading – Mark 14; Luke 22

The Gospels of Mark and Luke again present us with a parallel of events we have considered in our earlier readings in the Gospel of Matthew. Today’s devotional will focus upon Mark 14.

Mark 14

Mark set the scene for when Jesus had supper at the home of Simon the leper. This was the meal Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, interrupted when she anointed Jesus for His death and burial (14:1-9). Mark chronicled Judas’ arrangement with the chief priest to betray Jesus (14:10-11), and the disciples’ plans for the Passover meal (14:12-16). As we read in Matthew, Mark gives us the conversations at the table where Jesus observed the Passover, which was His last supper before He was betrayed, tried, and condemned to die (14:17-25).

Walking into the darkness of the night, Jesus and His disciples made their way to the Mount of Olives (14:26). Along the way, He warned them the night would not pass before the prophecy of Zechariah would be fulfilled which said, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered” (14:27; Zechariah 13:7). Yet, with that warning He gave them hope, saying, “after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee” (14:28).

Understanding Jesus was saying all would abandon Him, and He would be left alone to suffer, Peter protested, saying, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I” (14:29). His boast was answered by Christ predicting he would deny him three times that night “before the cock crow twice” (14:30).

Arriving at the garden called Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples, “Sit ye here, while I pray” (14:32). He then took Peter, James, and John with Him, and went further into the garden to pray (14:33). Surely, the disciples sensed the LORD’s sadness before He confessed, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch” (14:34). Though He asked them to pray while He prayed, Jesus came to the disciples three times and found them asleep (14:35-41). With earnest resignation, Jesus confessed to his sleepy disciples, “the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand” (14:41b-42).

Even as He spoke, Judas came into the garden, and with him “a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders” (14:43). With a kiss, Judas betrayed Jesus, saying, “Master, master” (14:45). His enemies took hold of our LORD, and Peter momentarily took courage and “drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear” (14:47; John 18:10; Luke 22:50), only to be rebuked by Jesus who said, “Suffer ye thus far” (meaning permit them to do as they will), “and he touched his ear, and healed him” (Luke 22:51).

Christ challenged the cowardly act of betrayal and arrest by those who arrested Him, and asked, “Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me? 49I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled” (14:48-49)

What manner of man was Jesus? (John 18:3-6)

 His enemies had long plotted His arrest and death. Though His life and ministry had been one of love and gentleness, His enemies came with a great entourage of soldiers and officers (John 18:3). When Jesus asked, “Who seek ye?” (John 18:4), they answered “Jesus of Nazareth” (John 18:5). When Christ confessed, “I am he,” they could not stand in His presence (John 18:6). Jesus Christ was the incarnate, sinless Son of God. No man could bind Him without His permission. Rather than flee His enemies, He submitted to their will, saying, “the scriptures must be fulfilled” (14:49).

Fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, “all forsook Him, and fled” (14:50; Zechariah 13:7), and they led Jesus away to be tried. Only Mark gives a record of a “certain young man” who was present that night, and when an attempt was made to take him, he fled and “left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked” (14:52). Who was that young man? I cannot be certain, but I wonder if he was not John Mark, the author of the Gospel that bears His name.

The balance of the Gospel of Mark follows our LORD’s trial before the Sanhedrin (14:53), and the travesty of justice that took place in the early morning hours of that Friday. As Peter watched from a distance (14:54), false witnesses were brought to testify against Jesus, yet their testimonies did not agree (14:55-60). Jesus had answered not a word in His own defense, until He was asked by the high priest, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed [meaning, God the Father]?” (14:61) Jesus answered saying, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (14:62).

With those words, Jesus was accused of blasphemy, which is under Hebrew law, a capital crime punishable by death (14:63-64). (Of course, He had not committed blasphemy, for He was the Christ, the Son of God). Falsely charged, and physically abused, Jesus was condemned to die, even as it had been prophesied (Isaiah 53).

Closing thoughts – Three times Peter denied being a follower and disciple of Christ (14:66-71). That Friday morning, even before the sun began to rise in the east, the crowing of a rooster drove home a conviction as powerful as any message that has ever been preached (14:72), Peter had denied Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. Yet, unlike Judas who went out and hung himself, Peter wept his way back to his Lord.

If you have not yet, I invite you to follow Peter’s example of brokenness over your sin, for you are promised, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

What Will You Do with Jesus? (Matthew 26)

Scripture reading – Matthew 26

Jesus had been teaching His disciples from the Mount of Olives (24:3), and as He looked east, He gazed upon the glorious Temple on the highest peak in His beloved  city of Jerusalem. He had taught them the signs that pointed to His Second Coming. Yet, the disciples were blinded by their ambitions and did not grasp the imminence of events that would soon cause them to flee and deny the LORD. Finally, leaving no doubt of His appointment with the Cross, Jesus said plainly, 2Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (26:2).

Three Scenes in Matthew’s Narrative (26:3-16)

In the first scene we find an assembly of the Sanhedrin, that represented four offices of religious leaders. There was Caiaphas the high priest (26:3), the chief priests (the religious nobility of Israel), the scribes (the majority of whom were Pharisees, and experts in the Law), and the elders (wealthy laymen who held a powerful presence in Jewish society). These had assembled for one purpose—“that they might take Jesus by subtility [guise; deceit] and kill him” (26:4).

The second scene was a “throw back” to an event that occurred at a Sabbath meal with his friends six days before the Passover (26:6-9) when Mary anointed Jesus for His burial (John 12:1-6; Mark 14). Matthew recalled this scene, for Mary had anointed Jesus in anticipation of His death. Matthew continued his recollection of the supper at the home of Simon the leper (26:6), and remembered how Jesus rebuked the disciples, and said, “For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial” (26:12).

Chaffing for the rebuke he had rightfully received for his greed and protests, Judas brings us to the third scene in Matthew 26. We read: “Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver” (26:14b-15).

Matthew records the preparation for the Passover meal (26:17-19), which was the LORD’s last supper with His disciples (26:20). Jesus foretold He would be betrayed by one of His disciples, yet none suspected Judas (26:21-25). What believers observe today as “The LORD’s Supper,” was instituted that same evening as a perpetual memorial to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

When Christ’s observance of the Passover was ended, He and the disciples “sung an hymn [and] went out into the mount of Olives” (26:30). They retreated into the garden called Gethsemane (26:36-46). There, the disciples slept as Jesus prayed until the hour He was betrayed into the hands of His enemies who led Him away to be tried (26:47-56).

Closing thoughts – As Judas closed His heart to Christ, he opened his heart to Satan (Luke 22:3), and betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver (Exodus 21:32). His name has come to embody sin, wickedness, and the villainy of rejecting Jesus Christ. Tragically, he turned his back on God, and rejected Christ and salvation, and the LORD rejected him.

What about you? Have you opened your heart to Christ, believed, and received Him as your Savior?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Tribulation and the Signs of Christ’s Coming (Matthew 24, Matthew 25)

Scripture reading – Matthew 24, Matthew 25

Today’s Scripture reading is a parallel passage to our earlier devotional commentary over Mark 13 and Luke 21. The focus of this devotional is Matthew 24.

Jesus and His disciples were departing the Temple, when the disciples commented to Him regarding the great stones of the Temple (24:1; Mark 13:1; Luke 21:5). Jesus then prophesied the destruction of the Temple, saying, “See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2).

Stunned by His prophesy, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Tell us, when [what time; how long] shall these things be [i.e. when will they come to pass]? and what shall be the sign [token; i.e. distinguishing mark] of Thy coming [advent; return], and of the end [completion; consummation] of the world [age]?” (Matthew 24:3).

Christ answered the disciples’ questions with a sweeping prophecy that fills the balance of Matthew 24 and Matthew 25. He identified eight signs as “the beginning [i.e. the birth pangs] of sorrows” (24:8), signs and events that will precede His Second Coming.

Eight Signs the Second Coming of Christ is Near: 1) A great deception led by a proliferation of “false Christs” who will deceive many (24:5); 2) International conflicts described as “wars and rumors of wars [and] nation shall rise against nation, and kingdoms against kingdom” (24:6-7a); 3) Universal, natural disasters: “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places” (24:7b); 4) An increase in persecution, martyrdom, and hatred for believers (24:9-10); 5) A great apostasy and falling away of pseudo-believers (24:10); 6) An increase in false prophets who “shall deceive many” (24:11); 7) An allure of sin that will diminish a love for righteousness and Truth (24:12); 8) The universal declaration and proliferation of the Gospel of the kingdom to all nations and people (24:14).

Yet, with all the signs the coming of Christ is near, the worst is yet to be. There will follow a period of Tribulation the prophet Daniel described as the “abomination that maketh desolate” (24:15; Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Jesus warned, “For then shall be [shall come to pass] great [high; large; prolonged] tribulation [affliction; distress; trouble], such as was not since [from] the beginning of the world to this [until] time, no, nor ever shall be”(24:21). The world will witness unparalleled sorrows as the end draws near (24:21) and believers who live in the tribulation are urged to be cautious, for “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible [which it is not, because God will protect His people], they shall deceive the very elect” (24:23-24).

Many “false Christs will arise” (24:24); however, when He returns, His coming will be unmistakable. He will come “as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (24:27).

Signs in the heavens will precede Christ’s coming (24:29-30). The world will be shadowed with the terror of darkness, for “the sun [shall] be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light” (24:29a). The solar system will fail, for “the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (24:29b). In that day, as the earth is shrouded in terrifying darkness, Jesus Christ, the “Son of man in heaven,” will be seen “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:30). His coming will strike terror in the hearts of men as “all the tribes of the earth mourn” (24:30).

Closing thoughts – To the saints who believed in Christ during the Tribulation, His coming will be glorious. Christ will “send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (24:31). What a glorious day that will be!

Are you ready for His coming?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Signs of the Time, and the Second Coming of Christ (Luke 21, Mark 13)

Scripture reading – Luke 21, Mark 13

We continue our parallel study of the Synoptic Gospels with today’s Scripture reading. Remember, the timeline for Luke 21 and Mark 13 is in the midst of the final week of Christ’s earthly ministry, and the Cross is imminent. Jesus has continued to teach in the Temple (Mark 13:1); however, our text gives us a window into a private conversation between the LORD and four disciples–Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3).

“Eschatology: The Doctrine of the Last Things” (Mark 13)

Jesus was preparing His disciples for events that would upset their expectations of an earthly kingdom over which He would reign. He foretold two catastrophic events in Mark 13. The first, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in the disciples’ generation. A generation being 40 years, that prediction did come true in 70 AD when Rome conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple (Mark 13:3-8, 14-21, 28-31). The second calamitous event prophesied will follow the Great Tribulation (13:14-23), and is still future: The end of the world as we know it (13:24-31).

The balance of our devotional will focus on the conversation between Jesus and His disciples (13:3).

Mark 13:1-5

As Jesus departed the Temple, the disciples said to Him, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” (13:1) Taking national pride in the Temple, the disciples were in essence, saying, “Look at the great stones that make up the Temple, and its beauty.” Jesus’ response shocked the disciples, for He answered their boasts, saying, “Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (13:2).

The disciples were stunned. To the Jews, the Temple was the holiest place on earth. They understood, if the Temple were destroyed, and reduced to a pile of rubble with not one stone upon another, then it would also mean the destruction of Jerusalem, and Israel.

Going out the eastern gate of the city, Jesus ascended the Mount of Olives, and sat down (13:4). Looking to the west He could see the Temple on Mount Moriah, the highest peak of the city (also the place where Abraham had offered his son Isaac).

Peter, James, John, and Andrew came privately to the LORD, and asked: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (13:4). Notice they did not ask, “Why must this Temple be destroyed?” or “How can we avoid the destruction of the Temple?” Instead, they asked, when shall these things be? What shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? (Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7)

Jesus’ did not answer the disciples’ question; instead, He challenged their focus, saying, “Take heed lest any man deceive you” (13:5).

“When?”, was not to be the concern of His disciples or followers. The date and hour when the Temple would be destroyed, or the end of the age would come, is God’s business. Jesus went on to teach His disciples, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (13:32).

The believer’s role is not to predict the day or the hour the Lord will return. Instead, we are to “take heed lest any man deceive you” (13:5). In other words, be prepared for the coming of the LORD. How are we to prepare? We are to “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (13:33).

Closing thoughtsMark 13:33 exhorts believers: 1) “Take ye heed,” keep your eyes fixed, for you cannot know when the LORD is coming; 2) “Watch,” stay awake, be vigilant, be busy with tasks God has given you; 3) “Pray,” constantly praying in anticipation of the LORD’s return. He has promised His return will be sudden, unexpected, “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

Revelation 3:3Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Are you ready for His coming?

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.