March 20: He is I am

Daily Reading:

Mark 14:60-65 (NRSV):

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.


In an attempt to force Jesus into a confession of guilt so as to justify their desire to kill Him, the Jewish council asks Jesus a series of questions. He does not offer a defense. He knows what they are doing, and He is not going to participate in the charade.

Yet, when they ask Him about His identity, He finally speaks. When asked, “Are you the Messiah,” Jesus answers in a very pointed way, “I am.” This was not a phrase spoken often in public. It is a shocking statement to make, for it was God Himself who told Moses that He was to be identified as, “I am.” Jesus has just addressed Himself as God before the crowd trying to find means to kill Him. Now, in their mind, He has committed blasphemy by equating Himself to God.

How does Jesus claim of being God affect you? It is not something we should be indifferent about. It is either a glorious truth or a scandalous lie. It should either draw us to want His name to be glorified above all others or draw us to want His name snuffed out from history. Jesus is telling us who He is. How we respond to that name will mean everything.

Hearing afresh the scandalous claim from Christ Himself that He is God, where does this claim take your heart?


Father, thank you for coming in the Person of Jesus, our Messiah. We know not how serious a claim it is to say, “I am” has saved us; yet, we are a people who are striving to understand and to take serious such a claim. Bless us, Lord, with hearts and minds that constantly grasp, again and again, this truth. Amen.

-Rev. Tab Miller


March 19: Pouring Ourselves Out For Jesus

Daily Reading:

Mark 14:1-9 (NRSV):

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”


What the disciples could not accept about Jesus, that He was willingly going to the cross, was something this anonymous woman has understood as truth, as she displays her understanding through her action of anointing Jesus. Her faith, which drives her to action, is such a great display of faith, that Jesus says it will be remembered as long as the gospel is preached, and here we are 2,000 years later talking about what she did.

So, what did she do? She took a very valuable possession and poured it out for Jesus. Others who see her do this chastise her for her actions. She could have done something “good” for others. Jesus calls them out for their hypocrisy. In essence, he tells them that if they are so worried about the poor, then they shall have ample opportunity to help, instead of blaming their lack of care on someone else.

As the church, we must remember that it is not up to us to grumble about the poor conditions in the world and complain when others are not helping. Instead, we should take the existence of poor situations as indications that there is still much work to be done. We must pour out our possessions for Christ in whatever manner He puts on our heart.

Where is Jesus asking you to pour out your possessions for the sake of His name?


Father, all we have is from you. May we never take our possessions for granted, and may we always be a people who do not shift blame for taking care of those in need on others, but gladly take on the call to always serve the poor. Grant us mercy when we hold back, and teach us to loosen our grip. Amen.

-Rev. Tab Miller

March 17: Our High Priest

Hebrews 5:5-10 (NRSV):

So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

“You are my Son,    

today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,

according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.


The Fifth Sunday of Lent, “Passion Sunday”, marks the beginning of the last two weeks of reflection on the passion and suffering of Christ. The book of Hebrews develops a theological view of the nature of Christ as both human and divine, while underscoring his work as suffering High Priest of the New Covenant. We have seen how important the successive covenants in scripture have been for guiding God’s People of all times.

Subsequently, Hebrews interprets Christ’s work as the High Priest of the New Covenant, who must submit and learn to suffer like we humans do (vs.8). Yet, “having been made perfect” (v.9), he intercedes for us, not through the human, Levitical priestly order, but as a member of the Divine “order of Melchizedek.” Christ’s divine/human nature and eternal work is connected to this mysterious priest who blessed Abraham with bread and wine, as one had “neither beginning nor end of days” (Gen.14:17-20).

Now, Jesus Christ appears to us as the High Priest forever of the New Covenant, who has neither beginning nor end, and becomes the blessed “source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (v.9). God’s work is consummated in refining Christ through his suffering and resurrection. In Lent we are led to relearn how Christ’s passion becomes our path towards eternal life.

How does Christ’s “learning” to submit to suffering, help us learn through suffering how to submit to Christ’s way for our life?


 Father, we thank you for the heart of your Son, who, as He displays the heart of the Godhead, shows us that, even as a High Priest, He does not stand above us, never to know what we go through down below. Instead, even as a priest of the Order of Melchizedek, without beginning or end, Jesus finds mere humans worthy of love, worthy of being known by Him. We cannot thank you enough for taking notice of us. Amen.

-Dr. Bill Daniel

March 16: The Way Is The Word

Daily Reading:

 Psalm 119:1-16 (NRSV):


Happy are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes;
    do not utterly forsake me.


How can young people keep their way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
    do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart,
    so that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare
    all the ordinances of your mouth.
I delight in the way of your decrees
    as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts,
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.



Our text contains a type of intricate Hebrew cross-word puzzle, with the answers spelling out God’s will and way. With twenty-two stanzas of eight lines each, the first letter of the stanzas again spell out the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each eight lines of the grouped stanzas begin with the same letter. In the eight-line stanza, vv 9-16, there are also eight synonym Hebrew words playing with variations of the meaning of the Law or the will of God for God’s people.

To complete the puzzle, the “cross-word” spells out how God’s will is embodied and leads his people through the Law, word, commandments, statutes, ordinances, decrees, precepts, and way. Young Pilgrims in Israel as well as Lent who puzzle over keeping their way pure find a clever solution that successively leads towards God’s will and way as revealed in the Word (v.9). For us New Covenant people of faith, the Word of the Cross completes the Psalmist’s “cross-word” teaching of the Law that leads to life. Such word play helps us remember God’s way is the Word.

Where are you finding solutions for the puzzle of the Lenten purity in God’s word?


 Thank you, Father for your word of hope. In the midst of our lives’ various puzzles, you solve our issues with one final Word. Thank you for giving us words of wisdom to reflect upon each day, whether we are in a Lenten journey or just on the journey of life. Your word sustains us. Amen.

-Dr. Bill Daniel

March 15: A Covenant We Can Keep

Daily Reading:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NRSV):

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.


Our text is part of a larger set of what some biblical teachers have called “The Little Book of Comfort”—Jeremiah, chapters 30-31. From prison, Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would be victorious and Jerusalem and its covenant identity would face eradication. Yet, from within this time of crisis and transition, Jeremiah comforted God’s people with a vision of future conditions where God would restore through a New Covenant. This is the only mention of it in Scripture, and its use in the Lenten Lectionary draws our hearts toward Easter.

Previous covenants successively came to a close, from Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses’ on Mt. Sinai. In turn, these covenant were renewed, and Israel found, through the patriarchs and prophets, new ways to guide future faithfulness in walking with God. Jeremiah proclaims a future hope in the New Covenant, that though God had formerly taken Israel by the hand, “the days are surely coming” where he will put his Law for guidance back in the heart of the people. At the core of this New Covenant: “I will be their God and they will be my people” (vs.33).

In this New Covenant we read a prophetic vision of promises to disciples of Jesus Christ as well. For the vision of Jeremiah converges upon the victory of Jesus on the cross for all the world at Easter: “they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more” (v.34) So surely such days of comfort are coming for us in Lent. God’s people will be conformed to the cross of Jesus, and then comforted and restored through the final covenant work of God.

In what new ways are you experiencing comfort, guidance, forgiveness or hope walking with God this Lent?


Father, we thank you for the comfort you give to your people, even as we at times struggle to be faithful. We thank you for your promise of New Covenant, and, as we sit on this side of your fulfillment, we marvel in your faithfulness to do as you say, even if it takes the cross to give us a covenant we can keep. Amen.

-Dr. Bill Daniel

March 14: An Answer In Troubling Times

Daily Reading:

John 12:27-33 (NRSV):

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.


Jesus in this moment is keenly aware that His hour is near. The shadow of the cross has totally eclipsed this situation. Jesus admits that such awareness is troublesome, but in this moment, He shows us how to respond. Jesus trusts God. His words, “Now my soul is troubled,” are a reflection of Psalm 42 (vv. 5,11). In this Psalm, the Psalmist asks why should his soul be troubled, because his hope and help are in God.

Jesus allusion here is, therefore, ironic. Jesus may seem troubled at first, but deep down, He has a solid hope in the Father. The other gospels display this same reliance, as Jesus is troubled in the garden and turns to the Father in prayer. This hope is confirmed before the people, as the Father speaks from heaven and explains that God is indeed glorified in Jesus, now and forever.

Since God has revealed his glory in Jesus, we now can respond. In fact, we must respond. Judgment is drawn upon this line: Evil will be driven out. Choose evil and be driven out as well, or choose Jesus as King. He will draw the faithful to be with Him.

Will you allow His confidence to be your own?

Is God your hope and help in your times of trouble?


Father, your grace is strength in times of trouble. When we are troubled, may we follow Jesus’ example of trust in you. May we be a people who take seriously your judgment of evil, and may we forever set our face to you. Amen.

-Rev. Tab Miller

March 13: Living In Paradox

Daily Reading:

John 12: 25-26 (NRSV):

Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.


Jesus was not shy about showing His disciples the complexity of human life. Many of His words seem to create paradox. Why would someone who hates his or her life then be rewarded with eternal life? Why is it the Father’s desire, as King of all, to bless servants? Should He not want to bless nobility?

Yet, what Jesus shows us is that these ideas that seem to conflict are not so far from one another. Hating life “in the world” is to hate life apart from God. The world, for John, is a place ruled by darkness. To love this life is to love darkness. Therefore, if we will reject the love of the rule of darkness, God will bless us with life.

It is only earthly kings who keep their servants lowly. Jesus is a new kind of king. He is a king who aligns himself with the weak and treats the least of these as royalty. If we find our riches in the world, and live only for those riches, we will not be able to be made rich by the King. To serve Him is to be nobility. To belong to Him is to be in a place of great richness.

What do you value as your riches?

Are you willing to serve the King so that you may be served by the King?


We thank you, Father, that you are willing to turn our wisdom upside down. We thank you that you show us true wisdom and do not hide your ways from us. May we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear your goodness. Amen.

-Rev. Tab Miller