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Daily Devotionals

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A Tree Cut Off


Scripture Reading: Luke 23:26-49


26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”


32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”


36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”


38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.


39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.


47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.


“If people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:31


Today, as we reflect on Jesus’ death, some of us will think of the cross on which Jesus died, noting that it was made of wood, cut from a tree. Some may also recall that in his death Jesus fulfilled a prophecy that said, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13, see Deuteronomy 21:23). In his death on the cross, Jesus took on himself the whole curse of sin for our sake, so that we can be forgiven and receive new life!


In our reading in Luke today, Jesus also speaks about himself as a tree. He says, “If people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Here Jesus is describing himself as a live, green tree, and he appears to be challenging people to think what it will be like when the tree is cut off (“dry”)—as he soon will be when he has died on the cross. A few words from Isaiah the prophet may help us to understand this. Isaiah describes the Savior, the Lord’s suffering servant, as a shoot that has grown “from the stump of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1), and yet the Savior is later “cut off from the land of the living” because he is punished for the people’s sins (Isaiah 53:8).


Though Jesus was cut off for our sake, we can actually be filled with joy, calling this “Good Friday”—because after he suffered, he also saw “the light of life” and rose in victory over death (Isaiah 53:11). Jesus did all of this for our sake so that we can have new life with God forever.


With Jesus, death does not have the last word, because he is the Word of life!


Lord God, we are in awe of all you have done for our salvation. May we praise your name forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

J
B

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