Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.
Today marks the point in Holy Week when we enter more deeply into the Passion narrative, the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection. As we continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, these devotions will turn our attention more directly to the Passion story, focusing on events as they are recounted in the Gospels, and how they are remembered and celebrated in Jerusalem today. Read more
by Elli Atchison
Throughout Scripture, God’s demand for justice is repeatedly seen. His righteousness cannot allow sin to go unpunished forever. However, in His patient love, God often withholds the punishment that His justice demands, giving every opportunity for His people to repent and return their hearts to Him. (2 Peter 3:9)
Jesus came to this earth to be THE answer to God’s ultimate call for justice. Though He was blameless in every way, Jesus willingly took the weight of the world’s sin upon Himself. He suffered on the cross and paid the ransom of God’s justice through His own blood. This ultimate act of amazing love and mercy by Jesus was to prevent His beloved children from facing the consequences of justice that our sins rightfully deserve. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17) Read more
This is the fifth in a week long series.
by Elli Atchison
One only has to look at the final days of His ministry to see how He suffered. Jealous Jewish leaders conspired with one of Jesus’ own disciples tJesus was no stranger to persecution and pain.o have Him arrested. Though He was unjustly accused and tried in court, “Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge” (Matt. 27:12). He faced an angry mob who chanted for His death, even though the ruling governor found Him to be innocent. He was handed over to Roman soldiers who brutally flogged His flesh, beat His body, and mocked His holy name. Finally, Jesus endured the shame and the pain of a criminal’s death by hanging on a cross. (Matt. 27:12-44)
Throughout this evil tribulation He never once defended Himself. He could have called on His Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to defend Him (Matt. 26:53). But He did not. He did not raise His hand or even His voice in self defense. His meekness was the truest sign of strength that the world will ever know. Read more
This is the fourth in a week long series.
by Elli Atchison
Jesus lost loved ones during His time on earth. He knows that the death of someone we love creates a hole in the heart that is hard to fill.
It is assumed Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, passed away before His ministry began. As a young man, Jesus would have grieved the death of His earthly father. He would have had to walk through that grief with His mother Mary and his siblings. Jesus’ own cousin, John the Baptist, was unjustly imprisoned and brutally murdered by Herod Antipas. Jesus, himself being fully human, sought solitude and prayer to deal with the pain of this tragic loss. (Matt 14:10,13) He also loved a dear friend named Lazarus who became sick and died. Jesus was so deeply moved by the pain of Lazarus’ sisters and He wept openly with them. (John 11: 33,35)
How would Jesus comfort an Israeli man who lost his wife to a violent stabbing by an angry Palestinian? Surely this husband would be justified in his feelings of bitter hate and a longing for revenge. (Exodus 21:24) Left alone to raise their children would be a constant reminder of their family’s tragic loss. The course of their lives would be forever changed. Read more
This is part three of a week long series.
by Elli Atchison
He was born in a cave to poor parents in the shepherding community of Bethlehem. As an infant, His family fled to Egypt as refugees, trying to escape a genocide of the maniacal ruler King Herod. Throughout His adult ministry He had no home of His own. In a conversation with a would be follower, Jesus made His humble lifestyle clear: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” ( Matt. 8:20) All His life, Jesus was truly reliant upon God to provide.
So, what would Jesus say to a woman living in Gaza today? As He walked through the streets, He would easily see that the city still lies in rubble since the war two years ago. Controlled borders limit access to the supplies desperately needed to rebuild. Many families are still displaced and living in crowded shelters, like refugees in their own city. Simple necessities like electricity, and water are limited and rationed. But, the feelings of sadness and despair are abundant in the hearts of these suffering people. Read more
This is part two of a week long series.
by Elli Atchison
Jesus was no stranger to obedience and humble service. The King of Kings came quietly at his Father’s request. He lived among His broken and desperate people. He loved them and served them, literally to His death… upon on a Roman cross. But through His resurrection, He left us with hope and faith to carry on, in this troubled world. Believers know that evil will never have the final say. Ultimately His goodness will conquer all.
Jesus desires obedience in the lives of His people. “If you love me you will obey my commands.” (John:14:15). And His commands can be summed up in two straightforward steps: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And then, love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark:12:29)
In Jesus’ day the Roman soldiers were everywhere in the land as He traveled. Their presence was meant to intimidate as much as it was to keep order among the people. These armed soldiers had the authority to carry out their tasks with as much force as the situation required, or their hearts’ desired. Similarly today, as one travels on the borders of the green line and throughout the West Bank, it is difficult to ignore the significant power and presence of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Read more