April 3 - Matthew 26.1-25, Numbers 35-36 and Job 3

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The Plot against Jesus
(Mark 14.1, 2; Luke 22.1, 2; John 11.45-53)

Matthew 26 When Jesus had finished teaching all these things, he said to his disciples, 2"In two days, as you know, it will be the Passover Festival, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."
3Then the chief priests and the elders met together in the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest, 4and made plans to arrest Jesus secretly and put him to death. 5"We must not do it during the festival," they said, "or the people will riot."

Jesus Is Anointed at Bethany
(Mark 14.3-9; John 12.1-8)

6Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. 7While Jesus was eating, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar filled with an expensive perfume, which she poured on his head. 8The disciples saw this and became angry. "Why all this waste?" they asked. 9"This perfume could have been sold for a large amount and the money given to the poor!"
10Jesus knew what they were saying, and so he said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? It is a fine and beautiful thing that she has done for me. 11You will always have poor people with you, but you will not always have me. 12What she did was to pour this perfume on my body to get me ready for burial. 13Now, I assure you that wherever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
(Mark 14.10, 11; Luke 22.3-6)

14Then one of the twelve disciples--the one named Judas Iscariot--went to the chief priests 15and asked, "What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?" They counted out thirty silver coins and gave them to him. 16From then on Judas was looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.

Jesus Eats the Passover Meal with His Disciples
(Mark 14.12-21; Luke 22.7-13, 21-23; John 13.21-30)

17On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, "Where do you want us to get the Passover meal ready for you?"
18"Go to a certain man in the city," he said to them, "and tell him: 'The Teacher says, My hour has come; my disciples and I will celebrate the Passover at your house.'"
19The disciples did as Jesus had told them and prepared the Passover meal.
20When it was evening, Jesus and the twelve disciples sat down to eat. 21During the meal Jesus said, "I tell you, one of you will betray me."
22The disciples were very upset and began to ask him, one after the other, "Surely, Lord, you don't mean me?"
23Jesus answered, "One who dips his bread in the dish with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will, but how terrible for that man who will betray the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!"
25Judas, the traitor, spoke up. "Surely, Teacher, you don't mean me?" he asked.
Jesus answered, "So you say."

The Cities Assigned to the Levites

Numbers 35 In the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, 2"Tell the Israelites that from the property they receive they must give the Levites some cities to live in and pasture land around the cities. 3These cities will belong to the Levites, and they will live there. The pasture land will be for their cattle and all their other animals. 4The pasture land is to extend outward from the city walls five hundred yards in each direction, 5so that there is a square area measuring one thousand yards on each side, with the city in the middle. 6You are to give the Levites six cities of refuge to which any of you can escape if you kill someone accidentally. In addition, give them forty-two other cities 7with their pasture land, making a total of forty-eight. 8The number of Levite cities in each tribe is to be determined according to the size of its territory."

The Cities of Refuge
(Deuteronomy 19.1-13; Joshua 20.1-9)

9The LORD told Moses 10to say to the people of Israel: "When you cross the Jordan River and enter the land of Canaan, 11you are to choose cities of refuge to which any of you can escape if you kill someone accidentally. 12There you will be safe from the dead person's relative who seeks revenge. No one accused of manslaughter is to be put to death without a public trial. 13Choose six cities, 14three east of the Jordan and three in the land of Canaan. 15These will serve as cities of refuge for Israelites and for foreigners who are temporary or permanent residents. Anyone who kills someone accidentally can escape to one of them.
16-18"If, however, any of you use a weapon of iron or stone or wood to kill someone, you are guilty of murder and are to be put to death. 19The dead person's nearest relative has the responsibility for putting the murderer to death. When he finds you, he is to kill you.
20"If you hate someone and kill him by pushing him down or by throwing something at him 21or by striking him with your fist, you are guilty of murder and are to be put to death. The dead person's nearest relative has the responsibility for putting the murderer to death. When he finds you, he is to kill you.
22"But suppose you accidentally kill someone you do not hate, whether by pushing him down or by throwing something at him. 23Or suppose that, without looking, you throw a stone that kills someone whom you did not intend to hurt and who was not your enemy. 24In such cases the community shall judge in your favor and not in favor of the dead person's relative who is seeking revenge. 25You are guilty only of manslaughter, and the community is to rescue you from the dead person's relative, and they are to return you to the city of refuge to which you had escaped. You must live there until the death of the man who is then High Priest. 26If you leave the city of refuge to which you have escaped 27and if the dead person's relative finds you and kills you, this act of revenge is not murder. 28Any of you guilty of manslaughter must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest, but after that you may return home. 29These rules apply to you and your descendants wherever you may live.
30"Those accused of murder may be found guilty and put to death only on the evidence of two or more witnesses; the evidence of one witness is not sufficient to support an accusation of murder. 31Murderers must be put to death. They cannot escape this penalty by the payment of money. 32If they have fled to a city of refuge, do not allow them to make a payment in order to return home before the death of the High Priest. 33If you did this, you would defile the land where you are living. Murder defiles the land, and except by the death of the murderer there is no way to perform the ritual of purification for the land where someone has been murdered. 34Do not defile the land where you are living, because I am the LORD and I live among the people of Israel."

The Inheritance of Married Women

Numbers 36 The heads of the families in the clan of Gilead, the son of Machir and grandson of Manasseh son of Joseph, went to Moses and the other leaders. 2They said, "The LORD commanded you to distribute the land to the people of Israel by drawing lots. He also commanded you to give the property of our relative Zelophehad to his daughters. 3But remember, if they marry men of another tribe, their property will then belong to that tribe, and the total allotted to us will be reduced. 4In the Year of Restoration, when all property that has been sold is restored to its original owners, the property of Zelophehad's daughters will be permanently added to the tribe into which they marry and will be lost to our tribe."
5So Moses gave the people of Israel the following command from the LORD. He said, "What the tribe of Manasseh says is right, 6and so the LORD says that the daughters of Zelophehad are free to marry anyone they wish but only within their own tribe. 7The property of every Israelite will remain attached to his tribe. 8Every woman who inherits property in an Israelite tribe must marry a man belonging to that tribe. In this way all Israelites will inherit the property of their ancestors, 9and the property will not pass from one tribe to another. Each tribe will continue to possess its own property."
10-11So Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, did as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they married their cousins. 12They married within the clans of the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph, and their property remained in their father's tribe.
13These are the rules and regulations that the LORD gave the Israelites through Moses in the plains of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho.

Job's Complaint to God

Job 3 Finally Job broke the silence and cursed the day on which he had been born.

2-3O God, put a curse on the day I was born;
put a curse on the night when I was conceived!
4Turn that day into darkness, God.
Never again remember that day;
never again let light shine on it.
5Make it a day of gloom and thick darkness;
cover it with clouds, and blot out the sun.
6Blot that night out of the year,
and never let it be counted again;
7 make it a barren, joyless night.
8Tell the sorcerers to curse that day,
those who know how to control Leviathan.
9Keep the morning star from shining;
give that night no hope of dawn.
10Curse that night for letting me be born,
for exposing me to trouble and grief.

11I wish I had died in my mother's womb
or died the moment I was born.
12Why did my mother hold me on her knees?
Why did she feed me at her breast?
13If I had died then, I would be at rest now,
14 sleeping like the kings and rulers
who rebuilt ancient palaces.
15Then I would be sleeping like princes
who filled their houses with gold and silver,
16 or sleeping like a stillborn child.
17In the grave wicked people stop their evil,
and tired workers find rest at last.
18Even prisoners enjoy peace,
free from shouts and harsh commands.
19Everyone is there, the famous and the unknown,
and slaves at last are free.

20Why let people go on living in misery?
Why give light to those in grief ?
21They wait for death, but it never comes;
they prefer a grave to any treasure.
22They are not happy till they are dead and buried;
23 God keeps their future hidden
and hems them in on every side.
24Instead of eating, I mourn,
and I can never stop groaning.
25Everything I fear and dread comes true.
26I have no peace, no rest,
and my troubles never end.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.

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