April 17 – Easter Week – Easter Sunday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

Read Matthew 28:1-10

Perhaps, the three most hopeless letters in the alphabet are, “DNR.”  They stand for “Do not resuscitate.”  Those letters are placed on a wristband of fallen soldiers on the battlefield.  They’re used in hospital rooms. 

Panic, fear, and uncertainty because of the coronavirus produced a sense of hopelessness in our world over the last 24 months. It’s not only in the time of a pandemic that the fear of death disturbs us, however. Author Max Lucado wrote, “Death. The bully on the block of life. He… badgers you… he taunts you…: you, too, will die someday.”

Resurrection Sunday reminds us that Christ has conquered death, that He has opened the way for us to experience new life here and now, and that a glorious eternity awaits us. 

In fact, because of the resurrection of Jesus, we can experience hope in several ways:

  1.  We can know the hope of complete forgiveness.

Almost everyone would say, “I have a hard forgiving myself for something I did… or I have a hard forgiving someone else.”  Sometimes it’s both!  The resurrection of Christ guarantees that His death accomplished all that the Father required for our forgiveness.

Because Jesus conquered death through His resurrection, God the Father offers us the hope of complete forgiveness.  The Apostle Peter wrote: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”(1 Peter 1:3)

  •   We can live with purpose and direction today.

When we trust what Christ accomplished for us, God’s indwelling Spirit changes who we are at the core of our being. We become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We can be the people we were created to be, the people Christ died for us to become.

Jesus promises His people fullness of life.  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  It’s so easy to get caught up in the cares and concerns of life that we forget what Jesus promised us. This fulness of life is the birthright of those who know salvation through faith in Christ.

The Hope of Easter likewise should impact how we live. Paul encourages us, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

  • We can also have the confidence of eternal life.

Christians will enjoy the resurrected life just like Christ did, with glorified bodies raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:42–44). We suffer in this life with pain and illnesses.  But in the life to come, you and I will not suffer.  Jesus just said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who live” (John 11:25-26). Those who are in Christ know that death is not the end for us.

This is our great hope. This is what sustains us in times of suffering and doubt. The Hope of Easter frees us to live life because we no longer need be haunted by that cosmic bully – death.

Because of the resurrection of Christ, there’s coming a day when God will “Wipe away all tears from our eyes, and there’ll be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, no more pain, for things will have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). 

That gives us hope!

Bob Fetterhoff

April 16 – Easter Week – Silent Saturday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

There’s an old proverb that says, “Silence is golden.”  At times this is true, especially when it comes to those people who love to talk above everything else. Silence can be precious.

The mother who just managed to get her toddler to sleep will agree with that statement. Silence is also golden for the weary traveler who finally reached home after hours spent on a plane, listening to the throbbing jet engine. Silence is even golden for the teacher enjoying Spring Break who doesn’t have students clamoring for attention or answers.

But silence isn’t always golden.  In a loving relationship with your spouse, your parents, or your children, you love to hear from them.  And when it comes to connecting with God, silence is not what we’re looking for.

The inter-testamental period, the gap between the Old Testament Prophet Malachi and the launch of the ministry of John the Baptist, is referred to as “400 silent years.” God did not appear to be on speaking terms with mankind.

During that time many of God’s own chosen people wondered if something happened to Him and felt as if He had forgotten them. Yet God was very much at work preparing for the first coming of His Son through whom He would speak loudly and clearly.

On Saturday of Easter Week, God again seemed to be silent.  He made Himself heard on Friday.  He tore the curtains of the temple, opened the graves of the dead, rocked the earth, blocked the sun of the sky, and sacrificed the Son of Heaven. 

But nothing on Saturday… especially as far as the fearful and scattered disciples were concerned. God was silent. But Easter was coming!

Easter weekend discussions tend to skip Saturday.  Friday and Sunday get the press.  The crucifixion and resurrection command our attention.  But don’t ignore Saturday. 

You have experienced Silent Saturdays. It’s when you feel like saying, “Is God angry with me?  Did I disappoint Him?”  God knows your career is in the tank, your finances are in the pit, your marriage is in a mess. Why doesn’t He act?  What are you supposed to do until He intervenes?

You do what Jesus did.  Stay silent.  Trust God.  Jesus died with this conviction: “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Acts 2:27 NIV).

Jesus knew the Father would not leave Him alone in the grave.  That same Father will not leave you alone with your struggles.  Max Lucado writes, “His silence is not his absence, inactivity is never apathy.”

Silent Saturdays have their purpose. They let us feel the full force of God’s strength. Had God raised Jesus fifteen minutes after the death of His Son, would we have appreciated the act? Were He to solve your problems the second they appear, would you appreciate His strength?

For His reasons, God inserts a Saturday between our Fridays and Sundays.  If today is one for you, be patient.  As one who endured the Silent Saturday wrote:

“Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.”

(James 5:7 NKJV)

At times our world appears to be facing a Silent Saturday.  Does God care about what is happening?  When will He stop the war, hatred, anger, racism, abuse and pain?  Maybe you’ve wondered if God cared enough to hear you.

Yes, He will deliver us from the issues we’re facing because He’s a God of grace. He’s in the habit of helping those who don’t deserve it.

Just like those in the first century, we are waiting for His intervention. With the Apostle John, we say, “Even so come on Jesus!” 

And Silent Saturdays will end.

Bob Fetterhoff

April 15 – Easter Week – Good Friday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

Read Mark 15:21-40

On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, which means the Place of the Skull (Mark 15:22) The sky turned dark for three hours (Mark 15:33). Jesus cried, “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit!” and He died (Luke 23:46).

But why did Jesus have to die?

From a human perspective, the Jewish leaders plotted against him, Judas betrayed Him, Herod and Pilate tried Him, and the Roman soldiers executed Him. As Luke puts it, “Wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23).

But Acts 2:23 says, Jesus was “handed over by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge.” To understand the death of Christ, we have to understand that He died for two main reasons:

1. Jesus Died to Bring Us Near to God.

The Apostle Paul declares: “You who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).  All humans stand condemned before God. Our sins separate us from Him whose character is holy and perfect.  

By shedding His blood on the cross, Jesus took the punishment we deserve and offered us His righteousness. He died for us…. in our place.  To bring us near to God, “Christ died for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Pet. 3:18). If “the unrighteous” is all of us, “the righteous” is Jesus Himself.

When we trust Christ for our salvation, we are making a trade. By faith, we trade our sin and its death penalty for His righteousness and life. This is called the “substitutionary atonement.”

Christ died on the cross as our substitute. Without Him, we would suffer the death penalty for our own sins. “He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The writer to the Hebrews puts it another way: “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Some object, “Shedding blood seems so barbaric. Is it really necessary? Why doesn’t God simply forgive us?” Because God is holy, He must judge sin.  At the cross, God poured out His judgment on His Son, satisfying His own wrath and making it possible for Him to forgive us.

But there’s even more…

2. Jesus Died to Reveal God’s Infinite Love.

God reveals His majesty and power in creation.  His promises to Abraham show His concern for the whole world. But at the cross, we witness the final and dramatic proof of His love and justice.

Romans makes this clear: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Christ’s death puts beyond all doubt the fact that God loves us.

God doesn’t forgive us by turning a blind eye to our sin or by overlooking it. Forgiveness is costly. At the cross we see not only God’s love, but also the seriousness with which He takes our sin.

Where would we be if God had not sent His Son to die for us? Without the cross, we’d be “darkened in our understanding of God and alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18).

The death of Jesus simply changes everything. I pray each of us will join Paul in saying, “I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

Bob Fetterhoff

April 14 – Easter Week – Thursday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

Read Matthew 26:17-30

On Thursday of Passion Week, Jesus instructed His disciples to prepare the Passover.  Why was that so significant?  What is the symbolism involved in the Passover Meal? 

Early in the ministry of John the Baptist, he saw Jesus and cried, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b).  But why did John say that?

Our first answer to those questions comes from an event that occurred 4,000 years ago. Abraham knew God had promised to make him the father of many nations, yet God commanded him to sacrifice his only son by Sarah.  So Abraham took his son, Isaac, up Mt. Moriah to offer a sacrifice. When Isaac asked about the lamb, Abraham assured him that God would provide the lamb (Genesis 22:6-8).

From that time forward, the entire Old Testament can be summed up with one question, “Where is the lamb?”  Israel began its history as a nation 500 years later by following God’s instructions to place the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of each house. That same night, the death angel took the lives of all Egypt’s firstborn but passed over the houses that had the blood of a lamb on the door.  For the last 3,500 years, Jewish families have meticulously prepared an annual Passover Meal to celebrate what happened that night.

For generations, Passover lambs were even raised in Bethlehem, just a few miles from the Temple. In those shepherds’ fields, a very special breed of sacrificial lamb was raised and nurtured to be brought to Jerusalem at Passover to be slaughtered to cover the people’s sins. Jesus, however, did not have His beginning when He was born in Bethlehem. Mary’s Lamb is the Lord of heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

For Christians, Passover pictures a greater reality. In the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, God provided the perfect sacrifice that could take away sin through His death on a Roman cross.  In fact, all the sacrificial lambs offered in the Old Testament point to Jesus Christ. 

In Exodus, God said to take the lamb’s blood and put it on the doorposts and lentel of the house. The angel of judgment is coming through the land of Egypt, but “when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13b). They could have put a perfect living lamb outside that door, but it would have done no good.

Salvation does not come from the life of Christ but from the death of Christ. Salvation is not learning lessons from the life of Christ, but receiving life by faith in the death of Christ.  The Bible says, “Without shedding of blood, there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)

Adrian Rogers summarized all this for us: “Jesus came as He did, born of a virgin, to be what He was, sinless. He was what He was, sinless, to do what He did, die for our sins. And He died for our sins so that He, being what He was, might make us what we were not: children of God!”

Bob Fetterhoff

April 13 – Easter Week – Wednesday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

Read Matthew 26:14-16

Did you ever have a day where you thought you had “nothing to do?”  No items on your “to do” list.  No appointments, meetings or responsibilities.  Just a blank slate.

It’s easy to assume that Jesus had “nothing to do” on Wednesday of Passion Week.  The Gospels don’t record any specific event associated with that day, so we aren’t sure exactly what He did.  Bible students have even dubbed this “Silent Wednesday.”

Wednesday may have been the day Judas chose to betray Jesus.

“Then one of the twelve disciples—the one named Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?’ They counted out thirty silver coins and gave them to him. From then on Judas was looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them” (Matt. 26:14-16).

That’s why some call it “Spy Wednesday.”

So what did Jesus do while His life was being sold for the price usually associated with the purchase price of a slave?

I can imagine Mary and Martha preparing for Passover which required shopping, cooking, and planning. Was everyone around Jesus pre-occupied with important preparations for the holiday?

I can’t say for sure, but I’m convinced Jesus took time on Wednesday to find a quiet spot so that He could sit with His Father His death would be a horrendous ordeal. Whenever He faced significant moments in His life, He spent time with the Father… and this was THE MOMENT for which He had been born as a babe in Bethlehem.  He was about to accomplish the purpose for which He entered the world.

How will you choose to spend your Wednesday of Easter week?  In the same way you spend every other Wednesday?   Are there preparations for Easter you need to accomplish?

Maybe we should spend some of this day like Jesus did. Is there time in your schedule to simply turn the world off, take a walk, and spend some time with your Father?  Why not take time during lunch or during the drive home to simply quiet your heart and think about what Jesus did that Wednesday—and the significance of the events in the days that followed.

Why doesn’t Scripture tell us what Jesus did that Wednesday? Maybe because it was the day Jesus chose to spend privately with God.   After all, that was the pattern of his life. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  (Mark 1:35).

If Jesus felt the need to get up and pray “a great while before day,” then maybe, just maybe, you and I need to as well. The Father would love to have that time with you.  

Bob Fetterhoff

April 12 – Easter Week – Tuesday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

Read Matthew 21:23-27 with Matthew 22:15-39

Have you ever felt manipulated in a conversation? Questioned about your motives? Painted into a corner?  Jesus experienced all of that and more on Tuesday of Passion Week.

It was the day when the religious leaders questioned His authority four separate times by sending their best minds to trap Him. The reason is clear: they had already made the decision to put Jesus to death (John 11:47–53).

Imagine that… the verdict came in before the evidence was even presented! Talk about a kangaroo court!  These religious leaders believed they had to catch Jesus saying something to prove He was a false teacher, because they could not condemn an innocent man before the crowds.

So these religious and legal experts asked Jesus four separate questions:  

Question #1—By what authority are You doing what You’re doing? (Matt 21:23–22:14). The religious establishment identified and approved teachers in Israel, but they denied Jesus’ credibility as a rabbi. So, Jesus asked them a question they refused to answer: Was John the Baptist sent by God? He was, and he was accepted as a prophet by the people even though the Sanhedrin didn’t ordain him.

Question #2—Should we pay taxes to Rome? (Matt 22:15–22). The Jews hated that pagan Gentiles had desecrated their land and forced them to pay exorbitant taxes. They truly believed they had Jesus here, and a simple “yes” or “no” would do it. But Jesus answers with amazing wisdom: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

Question #3—Is there marriage in heaven? (Matt 22:23–33) The Sadducees thought this question was the “stumper.” They didn’t believe in a bodily resurrection or in angels because they only believed in the Torah (first five books of the Bible). So, Jesus, used the Torah, to answer their question and correct their wrong understanding.

Question #4—Which is the greatest commandment in the Mosaic Law? (Matt 22:34–40) This last question was the most complex since there were 613 commands in the Old Testament. If Jesus chose one out of the 613, He’d alienate many who disagreed with Him. Jesus sums up the entire OT law with the greatest and second-greatest commands: love God and love others… mic drop! 

Four challenges—four complete defeats! Jesus sent the greatest theological and legal minds of His day home with their tails between their legs! Matthew tells us that afterwards, “No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.” (Matt 22:41).

Jesus doesn’t just know everything there is to know about everything; He knows all things from a divine perspective—a view that emanates from His holy and righteous character. Because of this, He can and should be trusted at His word, not challenged. As Paul wrote, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men” (1 Cor 1:25).

Bob Fetterhoff

April 11 – Easter Week – Monday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

Read Mark 11:13-18

Do you know that God sometimes gets angry? When asked to describe God, people often say, “God is love.”  And He is!  But, contrary to what some believe, that’s not His only quality. Among many other ways He is described, God is also holy!

God is not some gentle, soft spoken grandfather-in-the-sky with a casual indifference to what is happening here on earth.  When things in this world get radically twisted from what He planned, it angers Him!

Does it surprise you to learn that Jesus got angry?  While walking from Bethany to Jerusalem on Monday of Holy Week, He cursed a fruitless fig tree. Jesus knew that fig trees bear fruit twice a year — in June and September. This was April.  Even unripened fruit should have still been available for Him to eat, yet it was fruitless, so Jesus cursed the tree.

In the same way, the nation of Israel was professing to be fruitful and faithful (waving palm leaves as He entered their city), yet the Jewish people were fruitless in practicing their faith.  Someone wrote, “Profession without practice was the curse of the Jews.”   A few days later, the Jewish leaders would deny their King and crucify Him.

Nowhere is God‘s distaste for religious hypocrisy more evident than when Jesus cleansed the Temple on Monday of Holy Week. When He arrived at the Temple, he found the courts full of corrupt money changers. He began overthrowing their tables and cleared the Temple by saying, “My temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).  Apparently, the merchants had forgotten whose house the Temple was!

The events on Monday of Easter Week set up the events which happened on Thursday. By clearing the temple, Jesus criticized the leaders who allowed and promoted the activity happening in the Temple. He rebuked the religious leaders and told a parable meant to criticize them (Matthew 21:45-46).

The religious leaders had been concerned about Jesus before this, but His actions on Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week clinched it. They wanted him dead!

So why did Jesus flip the tables?

1. The religious leaders were turning what was supposed to be God’s house of prayer into a marketplace! 

  • It had even become a place where those selling animals and exchanging currency were ripping off the people. Greedy merchants probably cheated their buyers whenever they could, especially during the feasts when pilgrims from far away crowded the temple area.
  • Was Jesus upset at the Temple becoming a market place?  Sure!  Was Jesus upset that there was dishonest gain and “robbery” happening in the market place?  Absolutely.  Was Jesus upset that the religious leaders of His day were part of the problem in the Temple?  Yes! Most likely, it was a combination of all the above.

2. The market cut off the Gentiles from their place of worshipping the God of Israel. 

  • The court of Gentiles was a promised worship location for the Gentiles, built specifically in the Temple for those outside the Jewish faith to worship the God of Israel! They were supposed to be included, but were restricted by the practices taking place at the Temple. 

Here are some crucial questions for all of us, based on these events from Monday of Easter Week:

  1. Do I create barriers in my life that distract people from seeing the presence of God?
  2. Does the profession of my mouth match the attitudes in my heart before God?
  3. Are my personal resources used in a wise, God-glorifying way?

Bob Fetterhoff

April 10 – Easter Week – Palm Sunday

Read Mark 11:1-11 

Palm Sunday!

Instantly most of us think of palm branches, donkeys and Easter. It’s one of the best recognized Christian holidays on our calendar.

In some churches, children hear the story in Sunday school, wave palm branches while marching through the aisles of a worship service and picture themselves welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem. Nothing substitutes, however, for actually standing on the Mount of Olives to imagine the scene on the first Palm Sunday 2000 years ago. It’s a moving moment, even for the stoics.

The shouts of the crowd long ago provide some of the most familiar words in the Bible: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9b).  Zechariah’s prediction was fulfilled in this moment: “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, and a colt, the fall of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9b).

What was behind the events of that first Palm Sunday? Some Bible students believe that, when the people waved palm branches, they were making a political statement – like waving a national flag to commemorate when the Maccabees revolted against Antiochus, the Syrian tyrant. After all, palm branches were used to celebrate that victory!

For sure, some in the crowd hoped that Jesus would reestablish the glory of the Davidic kingdom to Israel. They thought He might be the One to fulfill the words of Isaiah: “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.” (Isaiah 2:2).

The first coming of Christ was not designed to establish a political kingdom, however. In the eternal plan of the Father, Jesus came as a Suffering Servant who would be “…pierced for our transgressions, …crushed for our iniquities”. (Isaiah 53:5). Clearly “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b).

A few days after that first Palm Sunday, the religious leaders stirred up the crowd to yell, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Talk about the whim of public opinion!  Is it hard to imagine that some of the same people who wanted to crown Jesus as king demanded His death a few days later?

Well, it’s not hard for me.  As I look honestly at the cracks, crevices and corners of my life, I see the inconsistency, rebellion and sin in my own heart. I recognize that, at times, I “speak out of both sides of my mouth.”  I pledge undying love and loyalty to my Lord and Savior yet still choose to disobey his clear guidance for my life. 

I understand what Paul meant when he said:

“I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:21-24). 

Is there any hope?  Am I just doomed to imitate the fickleness of the 1st Century crowd that ultimately called for the crucifixion of my Lord?  

The only answer is to immerse my heart, mind and soul with the following words of Romans: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord…Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:25;8:1-2).

Bob Fetterhoff