April 7 - Matthew 27.31-66, Deuteronomy 7-8 and Job 7

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Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross
(Mark 15.22-32; Luke 23.27-43; John 19.17-27)

Matthew 27 31When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross. 32On the way they met a man from Cyrene named Simon, and they forced him to carry Jesus' cross.
33They came to a place named Golgotha, which means "Place of a Skull." 34There they gave Jesus some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain. But when Jesus tasted what it was, he refused to drink it.
35The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes. 36Then they sat down to guard him. 37Above his head they put a sign that told why he was nailed there. It read, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." 38The soldiers also nailed two criminals on crosses, one to the right of Jesus and the other to his left.
39People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus. They shook their heads and 40shouted, "So you're the one who claimed you could tear down the temple and build it again in three days! If you are God's Son, save yourself and come down from the cross!"
41The chief priests, the leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said, 42"He saved others, but he can't save himself. If he is the king of Israel, he should come down from the cross! Then we will believe him. 43He trusted God, so let God save him, if he wants to. He even said he was God's Son." 44The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus.

The Death of Jesus
(Mark 15.33-41; Luke 23.44-49; John 19.28-30)

45At noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until three o'clock. 46Then about that time Jesus shouted, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you deserted me?"
47Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, "He's calling for Elijah." 48One of them at once ran and grabbed a sponge. He soaked it in wine, then put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus.
49Others said, "Wait! Let's see if Elijah will come and save him." 50Once again Jesus shouted, and then he died.
51At once the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, and rocks split apart. 52Graves opened, and many of God's people were raised to life. 53They left their graves, and after Jesus had risen to life, they went into the holy city, where they were seen by many people.
54The officer and the soldiers guarding Jesus felt the earthquake and saw everything else that happened. They were frightened and said, "This man really was God's Son!"
55Many women had come with Jesus from Galilee to be of help to him, and they were there, looking on at a distance. 56Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of James and John were some of these women.

Jesus Is Buried
(Mark 15.42-47; Luke 23.50-56; John 19.38-42)

57That evening a rich disciple named Joseph from the town of Arimathea 58went and asked for Jesus' body. Pilate gave orders for it to be given to Joseph, 59who took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. 60Then Joseph put the body in his own tomb that had been cut into solid rock and had never been used. He rolled a big stone against the entrance to the tomb and went away.
61All this time Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb.
62On the next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. 63They said, "Sir, we remember what that liar said while he was still alive. He claimed that in three days he would come back from death. 64So please order the tomb to be carefully guarded for three days. If you don't, his disciples may come and steal his body. They will tell the people that he has been raised to life, and this last lie will be worse than the first one."
65Pilate said to them, "All right, take some of your soldiers and guard the tomb as well as you know how." 66So they sealed it tight and placed soldiers there to guard it.

Force the Other Nations Out of the Land
(Exodus 34.11-16)

Moses said:
Deuteronomy 7 People of Israel, the LORD your God will help you take the land of the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. These seven nations have more people and are stronger than Israel, but when you attack them, 2the LORD will force them out of the land. Then you must destroy them without mercy. Don't make any peace treaties with them, 3and don't let your sons and daughters marry any of them. 4If you do, those people will lead your descendants to worship other gods and to turn their backs on the LORD. That will make him very angry, and he will quickly destroy Israel.
5So when you conquer these nations, tear down the altars where they worship their gods. Break up their sacred stones, cut down the poles that they use in worshiping the goddess Asherah, and throw their idols in the fire.

The LORD's Chosen People

Moses said:
6Israel, you are the chosen people of the LORD your God. There are many nations on this earth, but he chose only Israel to be his very own. 7You were the weakest of all nations, 8but the LORD chose you because he loves you and because he had made a promise to your ancestors. Then with his mighty arm, he rescued you from the king of Egypt, who had made you his slaves.
9You know that the LORD your God is the only true God. So love him and obey his commands, and he will faithfully keep his agreement with you and your descendants for a thousand generations. 10But if you turn against the LORD, he will quickly destroy you. 11So be sure to obey his laws and teachings I am giving you today.

The LORD Will Bless You if You Obey
(Deuteronomy 28.1-14; Leviticus 26.3-13)

Moses said to Israel:
12If you completely obey these laws, the LORD your God will be loyal and keep the agreement he made with you, just as he promised our ancestors. 13The LORD will love you and bless you by giving you many children and plenty of food, wine, and olive oil. Your herds of cattle will have many calves, and your flocks of sheep will have many lambs. 14God will bless you more than any other nation--your families will grow and your livestock increase. 15You will no longer suffer with the same horrible diseases that you sometimes had in Egypt. You will be healthy, but the LORD will make your enemies suffer from those diseases.

Destroy the Nations and Their Gods

Moses said to Israel:
16When the LORD helps you defeat your enemies, you must destroy them without pity! And don't get trapped into worshiping their gods.
17You may be thinking, "How can we destroy these nations? They are more powerful than we are." 18But stop worrying! Just remember what the LORD your God did to Egypt and its king. 19You saw how the LORD used his tremendous power to work great miracles and bring you out of Egypt. And he will again work miracles for you when you face these enemies you fear so much. 20Some of them may try to survive by hiding from you, but the LORD will make them panic, and soon they will be dead. 21So don't be frightened when you meet them in battle. The LORD your God is great and fearsome, and he will fight at your side.
22As you attack these nations, the LORD will force them out little by little. He won't let you get rid of them all at once--if he did, there wouldn't be enough people living in the land to keep down the number of wild animals. 23-24But when you attack your enemies, the LORD will make them panic, and you will easily destroy them. You will defeat them one after another until they are gone, and no one will remember they ever lived.
25After you conquer a nation, burn their idols. Don't get trapped into wanting the silver or gold on an idol. Even the metal on an idol is disgusting to the LORD, 26so destroy it. If you bring it home with you, both you and your house will be destroyed. Stay away from those disgusting idols!

The LORD Takes Care of You

Moses said:
Deuteronomy 8 Israel, do you want to go into the land the LORD promised your ancestors? Do you want to capture it, live there, and become a powerful nation? Then be sure to obey every command I am giving you.
2Don't forget how the LORD your God has led you through the desert for the past forty years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, 3so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The LORD was teaching you that people need more than food to live--they need every word that the LORD has spoken.
4Over the past forty years, your clothing hasn't worn out, and your feet haven't swollen. 5So keep in mind that the LORD has been correcting you, just as parents correct their children. 6Obey the commands the LORD your God has given you and worship him with fear and trembling.
7The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land with streams that flow from springs in the valleys and hills. 8-9You can dig for copper in those hills, and the stones are made of iron ore. And you won't go hungry. Wheat and barley fields are everywhere, and so are vineyards and orchards full of fig, pomegranate, and olive trees, and there is plenty of honey.

Don't Forget the LORD

Moses said to Israel:
10After you eat and are full, give praise to the LORD your God for the good land he gave you. 11Make sure that you never forget the LORD or disobey his laws and teachings that I am giving you today. If you always obey them, 12you will have plenty to eat, and you will build good houses to live in. 13You will get more and more cattle, sheep, silver, gold, and other possessions.
14But when all this happens, don't be proud! Don't forget that you were once slaves in Egypt and that it was the LORD who set you free. 15Remember how he led you in that huge and frightening desert where poisonous snakes and scorpions live. There was no water, but the LORD split open a rock, and water poured out so you could drink. 16He also gave you manna, a kind of food your ancestors had never even heard about. The LORD was testing you to make you trust him, so that later on he could be good to you.
17When you become successful, don't say, "I'm rich, and I've earned it all myself." 18Instead, remember that the LORD your God gives you the strength to make a living. That's how he keeps the promise he made to your ancestors.
19-20But I'm warning you--if you forget the LORD your God and worship other gods, the LORD will destroy you, just as he destroyed the nations you fought.

Job Continues

Why Is Life So Hard?

Job 7 Why is life so hard? Why do we suffer?
2We are slaves in search of shade;
we are laborers longing for our wages.
3God has made my days drag on and my nights miserable.
4I pray for night to end, but it stretches out
while I toss and turn.
5My parched skin is covered with worms, dirt, and sores,
6and my days are running out quicker than the thread
of a fast-moving needle.

Don't Forget!

7I beg you, God, don't forget! My life is just a breath,
and trouble lies ahead.
8I will vanish from sight, and no one, including you,
will ever see me again.
9I will disappear in the grave
or vanish from sight like a passing cloud.
10Never will I return home; soon I will be forgotten.

11And so, I cry out to you in agony and distress.
12Am I the sea or a sea monster?
Is that why you imprison me?
13I go to bed, hoping for rest,
14but you torture me with terrible dreams.
*15I'd rather choke to death than live in this body.
16Leave me alone and let me die; my life has no meaning.
17What makes you so concerned about us humans?
18Why do you test us from sunrise to sunset?
19Won't you look away just long enough for me to swallow?
20Why do you watch us so closely? What's it to you, if I sin?
Why am I your target and such a heavy burden?
21Why do you refuse to forgive?
Soon you won't find me, because I'll be dead.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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