3 Days of Prayer and Fasting (2019/12)

Luke 23:26-56
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 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.
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. 54 It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Day 1: Loving God
Jesus prays to God His Father twice in this passage, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (v. 34), and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (v. 46). As he was being crucified, Jesus did not resent His Father for allowing this to happen to Him, but maintained a loving, trusting relationship with Him to the very end, even to the point of giving up His own life into the hands of His Father. Do you have a personal relationship with God so that you can call Him “Father”? In your suffering, do you resent and doubt God or continue to love and trust Him?
There is also an emphasis in this passage on Jesus’s Kingship and innocence. Jesus is twice called the “Christ” (vv. 35, 39) and twice called “King of the Jews” (vv. 37-38). Two more times the word “kingdom” is mentioned as well (vv. 42-52). Despite appearances to the contrary, Jesus is the true King, the Christ of God. Jesus is also innocent, despite appearances to the contrary. He is carefully distinguished from the two criminals who are crucified with him (vv. 32-33), and he is declared to be innocent by one of the criminals (v. 41) and by the centurion (v. 47). And yet, Jesus dies on the cross so that He might take those who trust in Him “with [Him] [to] paradise” (v. 43), so that He might tear “the curtain of the temple … in two” (v. 45), making a way for sinners who had been separated from God to be restored to Him.
  • Confess your pride, how you sometimes assume that you know better than God does what is best for you, and pray for humble submission to Christ the King.
  • Confess the aspects of your character that do not conform to Christ’s humble obedience, sacrificial love, and patient suffering. Ask the Spirit of God to change you.
  • Pray that God would increase your faith in His sovereignty and love.
  • Pray that God would fill you with wonder and gratitude in response to Christ’s life-giving sacrifice.

Day 2: Loving One Another
Even while He is being led away to His execution, instead of pitying Himself, Jesus shows compassion to the “women who were mourning and lamenting for him” (vv. 27-31), exhorting and comforting them. Even while He hangs on the cross, instead of hurling down curses on his abusers, Jesus prays to the Father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do” (v. 34) Even when He is about to breathe His last, instead of fending only for Himself, Jesus extends mercy to a criminal deserving of death and assures him that “[he] will be with [Him] in paradise” (v. 43). When you are enduring hardship, do you get tunnel vision and become self-pitying and self-entitled? Do you give your brothers and sisters in Christ the most charitable construction and a benefit of the doubt when they offend or wrong you?
  • Pray that God would make us Christlike in being sensitive and compassionate toward the sufferings of others and not only toward our own.
  • Pray for specific brothers and sisters in our church who are in need of God’s comfort in the midst of trying times.

Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin that issued a guilty verdict to Jesus and led Him away to Pilate for capital punishment. However, all along, he “had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God” (v. 51). Do you have the courage to stand up for your faith in Jesus in an hostile environment? Do you stand up for what you believe to be true and good and right when people around you disagree with you?
  • Pray that God would give you more boldness and opportunities to share the gospel with unbelieving friends and neighbors in the New Year.
  • Pray that God would make you cherish Christ more than your own life, so that fear of persecution does not prevent you from witnessing to others about Christ.
  • Pray that God would grow your fear of God and eradicate your fear of man, so that you are always beholden to God’s purposes and priorities and not the agenda of men.

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