This Is Jesus
Walking Through Matthew’s Gospel
This spring you have an opportunity to know Jesus better. Together we’ll learn about the man from Nazareth, the one his disciples called Messiah. We’ll see Jesus in action. We’ll hear his words of wisdom. We’ll witness people’s intense reactions to him. We’ll weep for him at the cross and worship him at the empty tomb.
Along with messages from Pastor Steve Todd, we’re offering a devotional book that will deepen your understanding of Jesus, as he’s presented in Matthew’s gospel. Written by seminary professor, Dr. Ben Witherington, the book contains 40 two-page readings. If you read one each day Monday through Saturday starting Ash Wednesday, you’ll finish by Easter.
Ash Wednesday, February 17
(This short online message will accompany our drive-thru Ash Wednesday event.)
Here He Comes!
Do you know how powerful Jesus is? John the Baptizer did. He told people that “one who is more powerful than I” was coming. He called them to respond by giving up wrong-living and taking up right-living. Then one day at the Jordan River a crowd hears a voice from heaven as someone is baptized. “This is my Son,” the voice says. And they realize, he’s here.
Sunday, February 21
Jesus set the record straight on judging others. He told his followers they had planks in their eyes. We are unfit to help others see straight until we recognize and set aside our biases. It’s like being in the stands 30 rows back and arguing with the ref. Are you, a biased fan, really ready to trade places with the official on the field?
Sunday, February 28
Someone with Surprising Faith
“What do I believe Jesus can do?” It’s an important question to consider. Jesus lived in Capernaum when he wasn’t traveling, and it’s a question people there found themselves asking. One person believed Jesus could heal by command, even from a distance – and he wasn’t even Jewish. He was the enemy. But Jesus loves it when surprising people believe in him and what he can do.
Sunday, March 7
Who’s your family? Today, people are redefining family in all sorts of ways. Jesus was part of a biological-adoptive family and he loved them, but he also redefined family in a way that was shocking in his day. He created a bond among his followers that was stronger than blood, more powerful than parentage. Have you experienced anything like that?
Sunday, March 14
A Day of Separation
You will never find a weed-free garden. Just like you will never find a perfect church. The church will always be flawed. It will always have some hypocrites. It will always have some very un-Jesus-like people. But Jesus made it clear that it’s not up to us to fix it. Separating the saved from the not-saved goes way beyond our paygrade.
Sunday, March 21
Make Up Your Mind
It’s hard to be neutral about Jesus. And he doesn’t want you to be neutral. Either he is who he says he is, or he is not. There is no middle ground. If he is the Messiah, the Son of God, then following him requires our full allegiance. Even now he turns to you and asks, “Who do you say I am?”
Palm Sunday, March 28
Richer or Poorer
You’ve made sacrifices. You’ve given up good things for better things. Jesus told a certain young man to walk away from his wealth and follow him. Why would Jesus ask that of him? How did the young man respond? And more importantly, what sacrifice might Jesus require of you to fully follow him?
Maundy Thursday, April 1, 7 p.m.
He Took the Cup
Deep into the night Jesus prayed that he be spared the cup of suffering. He prayed that there might be some other remedy for guilty humanity. But he accepted the Father’s verdict, choosing to accept the cross. Earlier that evening Jesus took a cup, representing his suffering, and gave it to his disciples. He said, “Drink from this.”
Good Friday, April 2, 7 p.m.
Were You There?
Matthew 27:11-26, 45-56
This night we step on the stage of Jesus’s death. We see him on trial before the governor. We catch a whiff of the vinegar brought to him on a sponge. We hear him cry out to God, while nailed to a cross. We may even feel the earth rumble beneath our feet when he dies. It was commonly thought in ancient times that the manner of a person’s death revealed their true character. What does Jesus’s death tell us about him?
Easter Sunday, April 4
His Good Cannot Be Stopped
Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20
In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, author J.R.R. Tolkien slips glimpses of the gospel into his epic tale. In the second book, Sam meets the previously dead but now living Gandalf. Sam asks him, “Is everything sad going to come untrue?” We could ask the same question of the risen Jesus. And he may reply as Gandalf did – with laughter – “and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land.”