Jesus’ Story – Day 31

March 20, Friday

Good SamJesus ended the day talking about sheep and shepherds since He saw the masses of people as helpless, wandering sheep.

“At night the sheep are safely contained inside the walls of their fold and the night watchman protects the doorway. Some will try to get to the sheep by climbing over the wall. They are up to no good.

“The shepherd, known to the night watchman and to the sheep, comes to the door and leads out the sheep, calling them each by name. The sheep don’t mind following him because they know and trust the shepherd, but they shy away from strangers or anyone who’s voice they don’t recognize.

“I am the door. Those who come through Me will have real life, safety, and all they need. Anyone else who claims to be the way to life is actually a thief.  The sheep won’t listen to him.

“I am also the good shepherd. You can tell the difference between a good shepherd and a hireling by how they respond to trouble. If a wolf comes, the good shepherd will lay down his life if he has to in order to protect the vulnerable sheep.  The hireling only cares about his own safety and runs for his life. I am that good shepherd. My sheep know Me and My Father knows Me as well as I know Him.  I will lay down My life for My sheep.

“The reason the Father loves Me is because I’m willing to lay down My life so that I can take it up again. No one can take My life from Me; I choose when and where I will lay it down.  I have the authority and the ability not only to do this but also to raise it up again just as My Father told Me.

“I’ll be gathering in other sheep, too. All of you will become one big happy flock under one Shepherd.”

Hearing this, the crowd was again divided. Some deciding Jesus was deranged and possessed, wondering why anyone in their right mind would listen to Him. Others exclaimed, “Since when does a demon or someone possessed by a demon go around opening blind eyes?”


Sometime later, Jesus commissioned seventy of His followers to go two-by-two throughout the region of Judea as preparation teams for His ministry. He instructed them in much the way as He had His twelve disciples when they went out previously in Galilee.

“There’s a great harvest out there and not enough workers. Pray that the One in charge of the harvest will call out more workers. You’re going into difficult places, like lambs going to the wolves. Go with confidence and determination, and don’t let anyone distract you. Don’t make a big production of it either; just go from city to city telling the people that the Kingdom of God is here. If a city opens its gates to you, great! Don’t feel bad about taking up their offer of hospitality: a laborer deserves his wages.

“If a city rejects you, then tell them that the Kingdom of God is upon them, but not for blessing. They will be in for the same harsh rebuke I gave the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, in Galilee. Anyone who rejects your message is rejecting Me.  Sodom and Gomorrah will get off easier on Judgment Day than these cities will.”

They went out and did everything Jesus had said. When they returned, they were ecstatic, saying, “Lord, even the demons had to obey us when we rebuked them using Your Name.”

Jesus’ response to their enthusiasm was, “You haven’t seen anything yet! I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  You’ll have My authority to trample scorpions and serpents and anything else the enemy throws at you without being hurt. But that’s not the thing that should excite you most.  The best thing of all should be knowing that your names are among those written in heaven.”

Jesus, overcome with joy in His spirit, lifted His eyes to heaven and said, “Father, I love the way You work! I love how You hide these things from the know-it-alls and reveal them to those who are childlike. I love knowing that You know Me and that I know You.  And I love revealing what You’re like to these I have chosen.”

Then He looked at the disciples and said, “I hope you realize what a privilege you have. A whole lot of prophets and kings longed to see the things you’re seeing and to hear what you’re hearing!”


One day a lawyer came up to Jesus and tested Him with a question, “Teacher, what do I need to do to inherit this eternal life You speak of?”

Jesus, as He often did, responded to the question with a question, “What’s your understanding about how the law answers that question?”

The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself!”

Jesus commended the man, saying, “That’s it! Do that much and you’ll have the life you’re asking about.”

The man, wanting to justify himself, asked Jesus whom he should think of as a neighbor. So Jesus proceeded to tell this story:

“There was a man making the trek from Jerusalem down to Jericho when some thieves overpowered him, beat him, and left him half-naked beside the road. Shortly a priest came along and noticed the man but went out of his way to avoid getting too close. Then a Levite passed the same spot and quickly went on his way as though he hadn’t noticed the man lying there.

“A while later a despised Samaritan was making the same journey and happened upon the scene. Filled with compassion, he cleaned the wounds, put a blend of oil and wine on them, and bandaged him carefully. He put the man on his pack-horse and led him to the nearest inn, providing food and shelter for him. In the morning he left extra funds with the innkeeper and told him to take care of the fellow, adding, if it cost more he’d pay up when he came through again.

“Which of these three,” Jesus asked the lawyer, “was the true neighbor of the man who had been viciously attacked?”

The lawyer responded, saying, “Obviously it was the one who extended himself to care for the man.”

Jesus answered, “That’s right! Now you follow suit.”


Once, when Jesus was near Jerusalem, He spent some time at the home of Martha and Mary. While Martha busied herself with all the meal preparations, Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet drinking in every word He spoke. After a while Martha was pretty frustrated about having to do all the work while her sister sat and enjoyed their guest. She said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t You care about me? Couldn’t You at least send Mary in to help me?”

Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you’re going to too much trouble. We don’t need much really, just one thing. Mary is getting in on what’s most important, and I don’t want her to miss out on it.”

Jesus’ Story – Day 2

Day 1 Reading (in case you missed it)

February 19, Thursday

Zach JtB birthSix months later Gabriel was given another assignment. This time to the humble village in northern Israel, Nazareth. There a young girl named Mary, who was probably in her teens, was awaiting her upcoming marriage to a man named Joseph. The angel appeared to her in her house with this announcement: “Good news! The Lord is about to give you the highest honor any woman could have!”

Needless to say, Mary was as unprepared for this as Zacharias had been in the temple. Seeing the stunned look on her face, Gabriel continued, “God is so pleased with you that He’s chosen you to become the mother of the promised Messiah! When He is born, you’ll name Him Jesus; and someday He will take the throne of David and rule forever!”

Mary’s response wasn’t the same as Zacharias’ had been. Yes, she had questions about how this would take place since she wasn’t married, but there was an obvious willingness in her voice when she asked, “How will this happen since I’m not married yet?”

Patiently, Gabriel filled in a few more details for her. “God’s Spirit will  come upon you and the Power of the Highest will overshadow you so that, in fact, your son will be the Son of God. And,” he went on, “God said to tell you that your aunt, Elizabeth, down in Judah is six months along in her miracle pregnancy. He wanted you to know that with Him nothing is impossible.”

From her heart, Mary spoke these precious words, “I am the humble servant of the Lord. I am willing for this to happen just as you have said.” Then the angel departed.

Mary took the news about her elderly aunt as a hint from God that she should go to visit her. The moment she arrived, when Elizabeth heard her voice at the door, the baby inside her jumped. God’s Spirit filled Elizabeth’s heart and voice with this amazing tribute:

“What a blessing! You are truly the most blessed woman in history! And bless that little child in your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord should grace my humble home? The moment I heard your voice, my baby leaped for joy inside! Bless you, child, for believing what the Lord has told you!”

Mary responded with her own words of thanks:

“My inmost soul is overwhelmed by the Lord. My spirit overflows with joy. He has reached out to a simple village girl like me and has given me the greatest place any woman could hope for. He is so mighty, so holy, and so merciful. This shows that He brings down all those who are proud and raises up the humble who fear Him. Those who have nothing, He has filled with good things; those who are focused on their wealth have been sent away empty. He hasn’t forgotten His chosen people but has remembered His promise to Abraham, and He will bring it to pass.”

Mary stayed on with Elizabeth for about three months until it was time for Elizabeth’s child to be born. At his birth the whole community came to celebrate along with her.

Meanwhile, Zacharias remained speechless. It was when the baby was eight days old, the traditional age for the circumcision of male babies, that he was given his official name. Everyone was sure they would name this first-born after his father, Zacharias. But no, Elizabeth was insisting on naming him “John” even though there were no men in their family line with that name. So naturally they turned to Zacharias to settle the issue. He took a writing tablet and spelled out the name, “J-O-H-N.” Everyone was shocked.

But they were even more surprised when Zacharias began speaking out loud for the first time in over nine months. He praised God, and the Holy Spirit filled his heart and lips with these prophetic words:

“Look what God has done! He has visited His people and is raising up Someone to save us from our enemies. For generations prophets have said this day would come, a Day when we could be set free to live for Him every day of our lives!
And you, my own son, will be the forerunner proclaiming a message of sins taken away. This promised Deliverer will give light to all who’ve been sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, and He will guide our feet into the way of peace.”

As you can imagine, the story about these strange events rippled through the hill country for a long time causing everyone to wonder, “What kind of child is this going to be?”

John grew up in the southern desert area of Israel, and the supernatural hand of God in his life was evident as he became strong in spirit.


Mary returned home to Nazareth, and being over three months along, there was no hiding that she was pregnant. Joseph, a God-fearing man, realized that it would be wrong for him to marry someone who was immoral. Because he was gracious and wanted to spare Mary public humiliation, he began looking for a way to deal with her sin privately.

Wrestling with this late into the night, he fell asleep and had a dream. An angel was there calling his name. “Joseph, heir of David’s line, do not hesitate to take Mary as your own wife. The child in her was not conceived in sin but by the infusion of God’s Spirit. It’s a boy and you’ll name Him ‘Jesus.’ (In their mother-tongue, this name is ‘Yeshua,’ which means ‘the Lord saves.’) He will, in fact, save His people from their sins.”

Isaiah had prophesied this seven hundred years earlier when he wrote, “A virgin will conceive, give birth to a son, and call His name, ‘Immanuel.’” (Immanuel means “God with us.”)

Once Joseph was fully awake, he made arrangements to immediately take her as his wife. However, respecting her unique condition, they did not consummate their relationship until after Jesus was born.