Grow Deep - Love Is... Edition Week 1
Week 1: April 5-11
Love Is … a Cross
Memory Verse: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Of all the ways for His Son to die, why did God pick crucifixion? Crucifixion is a horrible, agonizing, humiliating way to die. Couldn’t God have chosen an easier way for Jesus to die … His only Son? Wasn’t it enough for Jesus to have to bear all, every single one, of our sins? Wasn’t it enough to carry that unimaginable burden and responsibility unto death? Why would God do that to His only Son? Jesus was an innocent man who was sacrificed for us!
As we read in John 15, we might die for someone we love, family or friend, but certainly not for everyone. Yet, Jesus died for the unworthy, the unsaved, the spiritually dead. He died for us and even for those who nailed Him to the cross. We are unworthy, we are unsaved, and we were spiritually dead until that supreme act of grace and mercy: God’s Son shedding His blood and giving His life for us.
No one knows the mind of God, but we do know that God is the One who chose crucifixion for Jesus. He chose to show us how much He loves us by sending His Son to die for our redemption. Jesus was crucified and paid the terrible price for our sin. He paid for our reconciliation to God through His stripes, His nailed hands, His blood. As each nail was driven into His body on the cross, the punishment we deserved was driven from our lives. With each blow of the hammer, Jesus showed us that His “Love Is … a Cross.”
Sunday, April 5
Read: Matthew 21: 1-11
Palm Sunday, a day of praise and celebration for Jesus, not only because He was coming into Jerusalem, but He also comes into our lives as Lord and Savior.
Reflect: What do you think was going through Jesus’ mind as He entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday? What comes into your mind when you consider that the same cheering crowds of people who were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David” would five days later be crying out, “Crucify Him!”?
Monday, April 6
Read: Matthew 22:24-40
Jesus gives us clear instructions for how we are to live our lives. He calls us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Reflect: God has given us His eternal love, along with a mandate to express love to each other. How do you show God’s love to others, especially at this time of the pandemic crisis? What does having God’s eternal love mean to you?
Tuesday, April 7
Read: Matthew 23: 37-39
Jesus tells the people of Jerusalem (and us!) that God always provides His love and protection for us. Still, we often wander away from that love and protection here on earth. But one day we will be eternally under God’s love and protection.
Reflect: Why do we wander away from God’s love? How do we do that? What are the consequences when we walk away from the love and protection of God?
Wednesday, April 8
Read: Matthew 26:17-35
Jesus ate His Last Supper with His disciples the night before His death. On that Maundy Thursday, He shared His real body and blood with His disciples in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.
Reflect: After receiving Holy Communion, what do you feel immediately? What is the lasting effect of receiving Holy Communion at God’s altar?
Thursday, April 9
Read: Matthew 26:36-46
Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane in His final hours to pray. He asked that the cup of suffering be taken from Him if it was the Father’s will. But He also prayed that the Father’s will be done in Him. He demonstrated an obedient love for His Father that took Him to the cross.
Reflect: It’s sometimes hard to follow God’s will for us. We can only do it with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus concluded His prayer in the Garden with these words: “Thy will be done.” Why should those same words be our closing statement of every prayer?
Friday, April 10
Read: Matthew 27:32-56
Jesus could have chosen no cross, no sacrifice, no love. But He didn’t. On that Good Friday, He chose crucifixion and the cross—the ultimate sacrifice of love for us.
Reflect: How do we respond to God’s sacrificial gift of His Son? How does that sacrifice for our sins affect our faith? How does it affect the way we live today?
Saturday, April 11
Read: Matthew 27:57-61
After Jesus was dead, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for His body and buried Him in his own new tomb which was cut out of a rock. Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb where Jesus was buried.
Reflect: If you had been there, what would you have been thinking as the stone was rolled over the opening of the tomb? Along with Jesus, what else was buried that day? What do you learn about God from these verses that you can apply to your own life?