3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2024/04)

Luke 23:32-49; 24:1-12 (ESV)
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with [Jesus]. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. …
24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Day 1: Loving God
The word that is translated “criminal” in 23:32 is a word that means “robber,” “bandit,” “revolutionary,” or “insurrectionist.” It’s the same Greek word that is used to describe “Barabbas” in John 18:40, and we were told earlier in Luke 23:19 (cf. Mark 15:7) that Barabbas was in prison for “insurrection …. and for murder.” So these two criminals that are crucified alongside Jesus are no petty thieves. They’ve done something to merit a capital sentence, perhaps even murder and insurrection. These are not good people. And yet, when one of the criminals says in verses 41-42, “we [are under the … sentence of condemnation] indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.  … Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” Jesus responds affirmatively in verse 43, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus’s response is staggering, because it goes so far beyond what this criminal deserves. The crucifixion was what the criminal deserved, not paradise! The Bible teaches that, at the end of the world, when Christ returns, He will judge everyone “according to what they had done” (Rev. 20:12; cf. Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10). But this criminal is a murderer and an insurrectionist. He has no good works to merit paradise.
Throughout the entire Gospel of Luke, neither angelic beings nor human beings address Jesus simply by his name, as this criminal does. They call him with exalted titles, “Jesus of Nazareth … the Holy One of God” (Luke 4:34), “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” (Luke 8:28), “Jesus, Master” (Luke 17:13), “Jesus, Son of David” (Luke 18:38), but this criminal simply calls Him, Jesus,” which means, the LORD saves. This is, at the simplest level, what repentance and faith looks like. First, the criminal confessed his sins, “we [are under the … sentence of condemnation] justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds” (v. 41). That’s repentance. Turning away from your sins. Second, the criminal puts his faith in Jesus, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). That’s faith. That is, in the end, all that this criminal had going for him: (1) he knew that he was a sinner, and (2) he knew that Jesus could save him, and that was enough.
Recommended Song: “The Glory of the Cross” by Sovereign Grace Music (Find it on our church’s Spotify playlist, “Trinity Hymnal,” at http://bit.do/trinityhymnal)
  • Confess all the ways in which you have put your “confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3-11)—your good works, your righteousness, your pedigree, your merit, your knowledge—rather than solely in Jesus Christ.
  • Remembering Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, spend time praising and thanking God for your redemption in Jesus.
  • Pray that God would grow you in humble faith that gives all glory to Christ.

Day 2: Loving One Another
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Are we still, in some ways, “seek[ing] the living among the dead”? Jesus is not a mere historical figure we encounter in the pages of Scripture, He is a currently living person! Jesus’s resurrection power is available to us as Christians. Are we living in light of these realities?
Jesus’s death alone isn’t sufficient for our atonement, He also had to be raised on the third day (24:7). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ are inseparable. Romans 4:25 says, “[Christ] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” There is no justification for sinners, reconciliation with God, salvation and eternal life apart from the resurrection of Jesus. If Christ had not been raised, it would mean that He was swallowed up by death. If Christ had not been raised, it would mean that He was overwhelmed by the curse of sin. If Christ had not been raised, it would mean that He was overcome by Satan, and that we are all still in our sins. But Christ was raised! And His resurrection is proof that His death on our behalf was accepted by the Father. Our sins were like an insurmountable debt that we could never repay to our Master, but because our Master is full of love and compassion, He wrote a cheque to pay the entirety of our debt, and that’s the death of Christ on the cross. And when we take that cheque to the bank, it doesn’t bounce, it clears, and that’s like the resurrection of Christ! The proof, the receipt that the payment has been accepted and that we are debt free! Do we live like our debt is paid, that it is paid in full? Or do we still live in fear as if the loan sharks will come knocking on our door any day now in order to escort us to jail? We cannot repay God and we don’t need to.
Recommended Song: “What He’s Done” by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (Find it on our church’s Spotify playlist, “Trinity Hymnal,” at http://bit.do/trinityhymnal)
  • Pray that the person of Jesus would be central to all of our relationships within the church.
  • Pray that the Lord Jesus and His resurrection power would be evident in all of our ministries. Pray for specific ministry teams in our church.
  • Pray that church members who are living in fear and seeking the living among the dead would be freshly amazed and transformed by the resurrection of Jesus.

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
There is a transmission of testimony here from the angels telling the women of what Jesus had told them in verses 5-8, and from the women to the Apostles and the disciples in verse 9. It says in verse 9 that “they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.” And then later in verse 14 we see “two of [the disciples]” “talking with each other about all these things that had happened.” Christians are witnesses of Jesus Christ. We bear witness to His death and resurrection. Transmission is essential, because unless the witnesses tell of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, no one will hear and believe the news. Notice how Luke emphasizes this. It’s not when the women see the empty tomb that they believe, it’s when the angels tell them the good news of the resurrection that they remember the Word of Christ and believe. It is the hearing of the Word of Christ that leads to faith. This is consistent with Luke 11:29-32, where Jesus said that “no sign will be given … except the sign of Jonah.” Luke says that it’s Jonah’s preaching that became “a sign to the people of Nineveh,” so, likewise, it’s not the resurrection of Jesus in and of itself, but the proclamation of the resurrection that becomes the sign by which the people of this world must come to believe in Jesus. As Romans 10:14-17 says, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Saving faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, that means we must tell people of Jesus.
Recommended Song: “Facing A Task Unfinished” by Keith & Kristyn Getty (Find it on our church’s Spotify playlist, “Trinity Hymnal,” at http://bit.do/trinityhymnal)
  • Pray that our church would bear testimony to Jesus with boldness and endurance.
  • Pray that the unbelievers in our midst would join our upcoming baptism/membership class, and repent and believe in Jesus, and get baptized.
  • Pray by name for your unbelieving family members, friends, and neighbors.

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