Expositional Devotions: Mark 16:1-4

aaron-burden-113284Do you want to know what I hated most about school? I hated the end of PE and recess. You know what it’s like. You are running and playing and laughing. Maybe you just started a new game with your friends. But whatever the case, you hear that loud whistle! Or, that loud shout, “Line Up!” You have to stop what you are doing and go back to class. Nothing would upset me more than leaving a game unfinished. When recess or PE was over, it dampened my day.

Well, on a much, much greater level, all of Jesus’ disciples were deeply saddened when Jesus died. They didn’t know all we know about Jesus’ death and what it meant for them. They thought Jesus was going to save the world and rule as a King, but they never thought he would take his kingdom by dying.

When Jesus died on the cross it was like a loud whistle blowing to stop all of the disciples’ hopes and dreams. Their leader, friend, savior, and God was dead. They saw him arrested. They saw him mocked. They saw him beaten. They saw him crucified. They saw his body taken off a cross. They saw him placed in a tomb. As far as they knew, it was all over.

Can you imagine what must have been going through their minds? Jesus had made claims to being God and the Messiah who would save his people from their sins. They must have at least thought, “Maybe he was not who he said he was.” Now, they trembled alone and afraid. They were scared because they knew what was probably coming. Their leader had been arrested. The religious leaders hated him. Their next move would have been to silence Jesus’ followers. I’m sure the disciples could not understand why the one they had fully trusted and followed for three years was lying dead in a tomb.

But that is exactly the point of our passage today. Jesus was dead and buried. Dead. Buried. Three women tried to honor the body of Jesus by bringing spices to anoint him. They waited because they were not able to buy the spices and oils necessary to anoint the body on the Sabbath. When they arrived at the tomb, they were wondering how they would be able to move the stone to gain access to Jesus’ body. What is the main point? Jesus is clearly dead.

The difference between the first disciples and us is massive—about 2,000 years! We have the privilege to know just what the death of Jesus means. While the first disciples were afraid when they learned of Jesus’ death, we can be confident and courageous! Satan’s day ended the day Jesus died.

As Jesus’ lay dead and motionless in the tomb on Saturday, he was in the process of unleashing all the power that sin and death hold over us. As you read about the death and burial of Jesus, do so with total joy, knowing what those first disciples did not know—that the one who lies dead in the tomb has given new life to all who come to him in repentance and faith.

Main Idea

As Jesus’ lay dead and motionless in the tomb on Saturday, he was in the process of unleashing all the power that sin and death hold over us.

Discussion Starter

Why is it important that we have this evidence that Jesus was actually dead?

Prayer Points

Thank the Lord that Jesus was truly dead, so that we can truly live.

Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:6-15

If Esther 9:1-5 was a declaration of the grand reversal, verses 6-15 serve as the description of the reversal of fates. And boy what a description it is. I always appreciate when history/narrative books of the Bible are thorough in describing events. Bible book authors don’t shy away from details. The author of Esther is no exception. Though the battle descriptions aren’t too graphic, they aren’t exactly the best bedtime story either. These verses may not be “family friendly,” but they are factual. And the facts before us tell a story of God’s judgment, faithfulness, and mercy.

Esther 9:6-15 describe the bloodshed that commenced on the thirteenth of Adar between the Jews and their attackers. When you think of this war don’t think of the invasion of Normandy in World War II. As Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 there was vicious fighting and gunfire from both sides. Both sides suffered many casualties. Many men on both sides of the fight were killed. The fighting that occurred in Susa and all the Persian Empire was unlike most wars. This war was completely one-sided. The Jews completely conquered their enemies. It was a sweeping annihilation of all those who attacked them.

When we read or hear of the Jews killing over 800 Persians in Susa alone, it makes our eyes and ears quite uncomfortable. The original readers of Esther would have been cheering at this point in the story. We just sit quietly and scratch our heads. In thinking about Persian bloodshed at the blades of Jewish swords, we need to keep a few things in mind.

First, the Jews were participating in what we would call “just war.” The Jews’ attackers were not innocent bystanders. Persian followers of Haman instigated an unjust war because their fighting was based on hatred. The Jews, on the other hand, were right to defend themselves against their enemies. So, the Jews weren’t bloodthirsty mongrels, but rather a people fighting for their lives.

Second, the Lord had given the Persian attackers into the hands of his people. As he has done throughout the history of his people, God judged his enemies at the hands of his people.

Third, God displays his steadfast love and mercy toward his people. At just the right time and just the right way, God preserved his people from annihilation. His commitment to his people is not his response to their righteousness, but rather an outworking of his. If you belong to God in Christ, he is forever and always committed to you, and none of your enemies will be able to ultimately succeed against you.

Main Idea: God judges his enemies and shows mercy to his people.

Discussion Starter: Do you think it was right for the Jews to kill all their enemies? Why?

Prayer Points: Thank God for his merciful commitment to you despite your sin against him.


17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Expositional Devotions

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One of the most common experiential complaints about expository preaching is the tedious work of walking through a Bible book over an extended period of time. It can be difficult to stay energized, excited, or awake(?) throughout a 75 week sermon series through Romans.

At the same time, the struggle of every expositor is to not only faithfully preach the text, but to do so in a way that best suits his people. Expository preaching expresses itself uniquely in different settings. What’s best for one congregation may not be what’s best for another. However, whether you’re walking through a Bible book over the course of one month or one year, a crucial question remains: How can I best drive the message, themes, and content of this book into the minds and hearts of my people?

Other than commentaries, few of which are suited for lay people, there aren’t many resources designed to help churches walk through Bible books together. One way I help shepherd as a pastor at my church is to write devotions based on the passages we are preaching. As we walk through Bible books, our people are given five devotions every week to help them study the text throughout the week. The devotions function as gospel-centered commentaries on Bible books that speak directly to both the head and heart. The goal in writing these devotions is multi-faceted.

The goal is for readers to know and experience the text better.

The goal is to teach readers how to better study the Bible

The goal is to help readers better see glimpses of Jesus on every page of Scripture.

The goal is for God’s people to know, love, and enjoy him more. 

I’m going to start sharing these devotions on the blog in the future as we continue walking through Bible books. I pray the devotions published here will be helpful for all believers, but especially for those walking through Bible books in expository preaching.


Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.