The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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April 23

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - Deu 6:5

"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deu 6:5).

"O God, be thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth's treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou art glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses I shall keep my vow made this day before Thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me decrease that Thou mayest increase, let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as [Thy Son] didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, 'Hosanna in the highest' " (AW Tozer).

Reading 2 - Ecc 2:17

"I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind" (Ecc 2:17).

Here, in Ecclesiastes, may be the place where eastern philosophies come into closest intersection with the truth of the Bible. The Buddha, for example, stated: "True wisdom is a desire to be nothing, to be blown out, to enter into Nirvana", that is, to become extinct, with the residue of life, in some sense, mingled into the Eternal. And so much of the religions that characterize the Far East breathe out this same spirit: the spirit of self-abnegation, or stoic calm and resigned acceptance of the inevitable -- as though (which Zen Buddhism teaches us) "life and death are all the same", and...

"Life is like a dewdrop,
Empty and fleeting;
My years are gone
And now, quivering and frail,
I must fade away."

It IS true -- so sadly true... if a man knows not God, or even if -- knowing God -- he lives a life as though he has no care for the Eternal and His priniciples and purpose.

True Christianity has much in common with this sort of pessimism. The only feature that makes it different is the hope of eternal life, beyond a life of frustration and futility and vanity. Without the empty tomb of Christ, and the heart-skipping hope it gives us, our lives would be not one whit beyond or above those of the countless millions who have gone on before us, into the oblivion of their own final resting places.

Reading 3 - John 19:2

"The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head" (John 19:2).

But the crown of thorns became a crown (stephanos) of victory. There is a crown of pride (Isa 28:3), which no one should wear. A crown of thorns (Mat 27:29), which no one can wear. And a crown of life (Jam 1:12), which everyone may wear.

"In making fun of the king of the Jews, they were mocking, not Christ, but their own Caesar, and every Caesar, king or ruler than ever had been, or will be. They were making human power itself a subject of scorn). Thenceforth, for all to see, thorns sprouted under every golden crown, and underneath every royal robe there was stricken and smitten flesh" (M Muggeridge). From that time forward, every power and every pretension of foolish mankind would appear ludicrous alongside the one true crown, the crown of thorns worn by Jesus. From that time forward, the only meaningful power would be that which originated in his suffering.


"They clothed him in a purple robe" (v 2).

Was the robe at Christ's trial purple (Mark 15:17; John 19:2,5) or scarlet (Mat 27:28)? Many commentators state that the two colors were often confused, and dismiss the matter casually as "purple, or scarlet", as if to say it does not matter. Purple was the color of royalty, whereas the common Roman soldiers' cloak was scarlet (so we are told). Perhaps the cloak initially thrown over Jesus' shoulders was scarlet, belonging to one of the soldiers; but that it was further augmented by a purple scarf or cape, since the intention of his mockers was clearly to portray Jesus as king.

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