When asked to read scripture about Jesus, most of us would automatically turn to the New Testament. But what we may not realize or forget is that the Bible – both Old and New Testaments – are one big story of God’s redemption all pointing to Jesus.
In this Lenten devotional, several Hope Walks staff and board members take a look at Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection from the dead through scriptures where the coming Messiah is prophesized in the Old Testament.
Some scholars and theologians estimate the number of prophetic references to Jesus in the Old Testament is more than 300. We will touch on nine of them starting with Ash Wednesday, each Sunday in Lent, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
We hope this different approach to an Easter devotion will help you prepare your heart during the 40 days of Lent in anticipation of a great Easter celebration.
President and Co-Founder
Ash Wednesday - Jesus destroys Satan's work
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:15 ESV
Lenten Season is rich with meaning and leads us to the Passion of Christ and ultimately to Resurrection day where Jesus destroyed Satan’s work. Genesis 3:15 reflects this victory when God is speaking to the serpent and says “He shall bruise your head”; however, we can’t forget that the same verse says “and you shall bruise his heel.” This points to the cross, and while we know that Jesus ultimately prevails, it is not without a struggle.
As we observe Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of that struggle and the reason for Jesus’ death. We are reminded of our own sinfulness and our need for atonement. Ash Wednesday is not a day of celebration or victory, it is a day of lament, penitence and confession.
In my own faith tradition, we don’t generally follow the traditional liturgical practices and we haven’t fully embraced many of the Christian traditions. We don’t pray the stations of the Cross, we don’t pay that much attention to Lent, and we don’t put ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. I’m afraid we are missing out. We like to celebrate on our Holy Days and are quick to applaud what Jesus did on the cross. But we are much slower to recognize our own sin, our need for redemption, and the responsibility we bear for our own shortcomings.
Ash Wednesday is a solemn day. Ashes historically represent mourning and repentance and serve as a reminder “that you are dust, and to dust that you shall return.” It is not fun to contemplate weighty matters like death or our own failings. Confession, lament and mourning are not exactly “feel-good” experiences but this is where Lent begins and we only get to the end if we start at the beginning. It reminds us that we are in need of a Savior; developing an appreciation of our need for forgiveness makes us even more grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice.
Let’s close with some selected passages from the traditional Litany of Penitence:
We have not loved you with whole heart, and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
Have Mercy on us, Lord.
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy and impatience of our lives.
We confess to you, Lord.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
Accomplish in us the work of our salvation, that we may show forth your glory in the world.
May you have a holy Lenten season.
Leron Lehman is chair of
Hope Walks’ Board of Directors
Sunday, March 6 - Jesus was born of a virgin
“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Main question: Why will this child, who will be born in a miraculous birth, bear the name of Immanuel? We know that etiologically this name means: “Elohim with us” from the Hebrew ’’ לֵֽא וּנָ֥מִּע’’ (imanu el).
Questions to ask ourselves: Do we need the presence of God? Why the choice of this name and for what purpose this name was given to the child who will be born? Isn’t it talking about a restoration of relationship between God who was not with us for some reasons and now wants to be with us?
What happened before?
- Separation between man and his Creator/corruption of humanity
Since the time of Noah, God has withdrawn his Spirit, which was in each man, because of sin. God ended his walk with man in these words from Genesis 6:3 ‘’Then the LORD said, my spirit shall not remain in man forever, for man is flesh, and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years’’. The word translated “spirit” in this verse is the Hebrew word “ַחוּר” (ruah) which means: Wind, spirit, being, life, breath, thought or mind. A way of saying that: Man is deprived of the glory of God, man is deprived of the life of God, man will not be defined as being a child or son of God, therefore as a god (Psalms 82:6 “I said: You are gods, You are all sons of the Most High”) man will be disconnected from God, the covenant is broken between God and man, the thought/mind of God will not always be in man or man will no longer have the mind of God to understand the things of God or to be part of God as ‘’ONE with God.”
- God wants to return among his people to be with them
What we have just seen in the first point shows us that the separation was not universal because Noah and his family were saved, the human race had the chance to reproduce. God made a covenant with Noah as he had done with Adam for the perpetuation of humanity. The reason for this is that God wanted to have an ongoing relationship with mankind and desired to be with man forever. The restoration of humanity was then God’s project, a total restoration: in relationship, in thought and above all in communion with God. This is what we read in these words according to 2 Corinthians 5: 18-20 “And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, imputing not their trespasses to men, and he has put in us the word of reconciliation. We therefore act as ambassadors for Christ, as if God were exhorting through us; we implore you in the name of Christ: Be reconciled to God.” So, we need God and his presence with us. To refuse Immanuel is to reject God’s plan for the restoration of mankind. It is also to refuse the transformation of our beings: body, soul and spirit and it is to wish to remain far from the face of God.
Remember: God wants to be with us forever himself through the name ‘’Immanuel.’’ The presence of God in your life is your best and greatest need. To accept his presence is to give consolation to God because there is joy in heaven for a single soul who converts according to Luke 15:7 “In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven for one sinner who repents, than for ninety-nine righteous ones who need no repentance.” For, as we read, God is grieved when a sinner dies according to Ezekiel 18:23, “What I desire, shall the wicked die?” says the Lord GOD. “Doesn’t he change his behavior and live? ” So, the coming of Jesus, man is restored to his place and by the gift of the Holy Spirit, those who are in Christ today have the mind of God according to 1 Corinthians 2:16 : “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.’’
Moussa Yahaya is
program manager in Niger
Sunday, March 13 - Jesus is a Savior for all people
“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.”
There is a lot going on in Isaiah 11:10 that needs to be unpacked. First, what does the root of Jesse mean? Jesse, as you may know, was the father of David. Yes, that’s the well-known King David, the greatest king of Israel. But like all of the kings that followed him, David was an imperfect king. But Isaiah says that out of the lineage of Jesse, a new king would come. Not just any king, but a king that will establish God’s eternal kingdom – the promised Messiah.
A root is a very special part of any plant. Roots serve many purposes. They act as a foundation on which the plant can grow and mature. They carry the weight of the plant whether it be a small petunia or a mighty avocado tree (one of the biggest in my home of Rwanda).
Roots also are the future hope of the life of the tree. It provides nourishment from the ground on which the tree will survive. Likewise, we must draw our strength from Christ, the root of Jesse.
This symbolism also shows that the Messiah would possess human ancestry – being both fully human and fully God. It also shows that Christ would have humble origins from a shepherd from Bethlehem – Jesse’s family was not of great stature in society.
Later in this verse, we are told the nations will rally to him. While the Jews are God’s chosen people, this verse also brings hope to those outside this community and promises that Jesus the Messiah will draw all people to him. He is a savior for everyone, not just the Jews. Follow him, and you will have salvation no matter where you come from or what your family of origin is.
The Apostle Paul references this passage in Romans 15:12 and uses it to explain why he is evangelizing to the Gentiles. He shows them they are now part of those people who can receive salvation. What a great encouragement to know that we are all part of God’s family through the salvation of Jesus Christ!
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for being a savior for all people. Forgive us when we have doubts about our own salvation. Give us the strength to share your gospel message with all people.
Esperance Uwizeye is
a regional manager in Africa
Sunday, March 20 - Jesus ushers in a New Covenant
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah'”
A covenant from the Bible’s perspective is a divine ordinance with signs and guarantees. God himself is the guarantor of this alliance.
God in his love and grace had established a covenant with the fathers of Israel: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 17:4-9, Genesis 26:1-5, Genesis 32:14-30). This alliance was materialized by animal sacrifices to say thank you to God or ask forgiveness for sins, etc.
God himself was the guarantor of this covenant, and intervened to deliver the people of Israel during the difficult situations they were going through overtime. This was the case when God intervened to save them from the slavery that Pharaoh had imposed on them in Egypt and lead them to the promised land.
But we see that despite divine interventions through powerful miracles, their hearts remained the same, often rebellious and disobedient to the ordinances of God given to Moses on the way between Egypt and the promised land (Exodus 24:12, Jeremiah 17:9).
Thus, to perfect his relationship with Israel and with human beings in general, God needed to bring his covenant to a more intimate level that would transform our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
Rather than having the word of God, his law outside of us, God through the new covenant in Jesus Christ wants to write his word in our hearts so that it is alive and invigorating for us on a daily basis. This is the difference between the previous covenant made with the patriarchal fathers and the new covenant that Jesus Christ inaugurates through his sacrifice at the cross, to transform us and enliven us from within to give us a new heart, a new and permanent hope. No more need for animal sacrifices. Jesus has accomplished everything. He lives in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and he is there every day with us (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
Dr. Faical Oubda is
program manager in Burkina Faso
Sunday, March 27 - Jesus brings an end to sin
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”
I’ve spent a week studying this verse, Daniel, the visions that he had, and Gabriel’s history of appearing to people in the Bible and the conclusion I’ve come to is we serve a God who is much bigger than anything we could possibly imagine.
A God who years and years before Christ came sent an angel. In a vision. To a man. To say that the Messiah was coming. Not only that He was coming but that He would bring an END to sin. I can only imagine how foreign that must have sounded to a people who had to visit the temple and give blood sacrifice as atonements for every sin. The interpretations of scholars much more educated than I say that ‘sevens’ speaks to weeks and seventy ‘sevens’ is roughly 490 years. Nearly 500 years before Christ a prophesy of hope that Daniel and his people are not forgotten, that the suffering will end, and that Jesus will come bringing an ultimate end to sin was given.
What I find most amazing about God and His Word is the consistency of the text. If you’ve ever spent any time writing, reading, listening to a comedy hour, or watching a TV series, you can understand the thought required to have a story throughline that’s consistent and not contradictory. And here we are talking about centuries separating the texts not weeks! Who are we to know the mind of God?
Several interpretations suggest that the final week that’s mentioned represents the tribulation. If that interpretation is correct how amazing that in one verse both the first and second comings of Christ, and the resulting victories, are prophesied. Centuries before the first coming!
Again, the forethought and the consistency of the texts that consistently point to Jesus and His story is mind-boggling. We clearly serve a God who is above time, who is in control of time, and has a vision and plan for his people. I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of God I want to serve.
Let’s thank God for His sovereignty and His ultimate reign and defeat over sin.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for your Word. Thank you that since the beginning of time you have had a plan for your Son, your world, and your people. Thank you that you prove over and over that you are indeed the Solid Rock that we can put our hope and trust in. Forgive us for when we lose sight of your sovereignty and omnipotence and allow fear and anxiety to cloud our day-to-day. Thank you that you have defeated sin with Jesus’ death and resurrection. Be with us this Easter season in a fresh way that we would more closely be in relationship with you. Thank you for front row seats to your story unfolding. Thank you for what you are doing in our lives and in the Hope Walks’ families around the world. Amen.
Natalie Weakly is a
member of Hope Walks’ Board of Directors
Sunday, April 3 - Jesus' ministry is miraculous
“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.”
I remember when I was a little kid, my mom took me with her to the biggest crusades in the history of Ethiopian Evangelical believers, ministered by German Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, the man who changed the face of Christianity in Africa. What I saw was beyond my grasp. I saw blind people who could now see, the ears of the deaf being opened, the lame now walking and jumping like a playing child. None of this made much sense to me.
Miracles promised in Isaiah 35:5-6, were very strange and astonishing when we compare them with others we read about and find in the Old Testament. The blind seeing? The deaf hearing? The lame walking? The mute tongues shouting for joy? Wilderness gushing forth water? How on earth could these transpire? And, when would these things be?
The eyes of the man born blind that Jesus healed in John 9; The ears of the deaf man that Jesus opened by sighing and saying, “Ephphatha!” (Mark 7:34); The legs of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof that were strengthened by Jesus’s power (Mark 2:12); So also, the tongues of every mute person that Jesus healed. They were infallible signs of total healing that God intends to give every believer in the resurrection! Then alone will the glories of Isaiah 35 be fulfilled. And we can shamelessly conclude that Jesus was the one promised through Isaiah!
Surely God has the power to save us from our pains and afflictions, our diseases and disasters. But most importantly, this power of Christ to heal reminds us of his greater power – the power to take away sin and abolish death by the full redemption of our bodies at the resurrection, then creation itself will forever be liberated from its bondage to decay and be brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:21-23).
As we hear these words of Isaiah during the Lent season, we can give thanks that our God has come to save us! Jesus came to die for all of our sins and save us for all eternity. Now, we can look forward to heaven where there will never be any deaf ears, mute tongues or lame legs. Only perfection and joy wait for God’s redeemed people!
Thus, as Isaiah says, “Be strong. Do not fear!”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks for your sacrificial and miraculous work that you did on the cross. As true God, you are able to help us in our very distress, difficulty, agony and sickness. We know that your miracles were literal fulfillments of your Father’s promise in Isaiah 35 but also mere signs of a reality not yet ours, a reality only consummated when all of us will receive our resurrected bodies and reach Zion, in your City where you and we will dwell together forever. So please help us to see all of these promises in you alone, and to walk every day in the hope and holiness that are ours in you. Amen
Endashawu Abera is
program manager in Ethiopia
Palm Sunday, April 10 - Jesus enters Jerusalem
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
As I read Zechariah 9:9 it blows me away that this was written in about 480 BC. How amazing it is when we hear of someone who can predict the future! The Lord spoke through Zechariah to confirm for all mankind that the one who came riding in on a donkey was the promised messiah. Three of the four gospels make it a point to mention the event happening just as Zechariah did.
It’s described in Mark 11:1, Matthew 21:5, and Luke 19:35-38.
Whenever I read this passage I remember how a Mexican missionary friend described the scene. You have to understand that in parts of Mexico donkeys or “burros” are very common. He asked the question, “What do you think the burro thought about all this commotion? Was he thinking, “wow, I must really be important. Look at all the people welcoming me to town and so happy to see me!”
Isn’t it a typical response even for us people to think wow I look pretty good and enjoy the attention from the people around us. It wasn’t even in the little donkey’s mind that maybe all the fuss was for the rider on his back. In his own mind the burro received the glory. A right perspective would have been to realize that Jesus deserves all the glory. It’s all about him. Jesus is the promised king and messiah who came to pay for the sins of the world and show the father’s love and plan of salvation for people from every tongue, tribe and nation.
This Easter let’s remember that it’s all about giving God the glory he deserves as we remember that we are not our own but we were bought at a price.
Prayer: Lord have mercy on us sinners. Jesus thank you for coming to save us and make us new creations. King Jesus we give you all the honor and glory that you deserve for coming to live among us, dying on the cross, conquering death and being resurrected on the third day. We love you because you first loved us and laid down your life for us, amen!
Jeffrey Simons is
Latin America regional manager
Good Friday, April 15 - Jesus is rejected by his people
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”
When have you seen something or someone that was rejected or tossed aside turn out to be very important?
Have you ever seen the Church work like living stones, built together to be a place for God’s Spirit?
Jesus Son of God is the cornerstone. He came to his people, but they did not recognize him as their Messiah. They rejected him just because he came as a humble servant.
I have good news for you. “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13).
Although his people did not accept him, he is the King of peace. He is the King of kings. He is the one who comforts the weary. He is the answer to your problems. His name is Jesus Christ. You should make a plan to approach him, make him your friend, behold, he has laid his hands on you, and listen to his voice now saying “come my child. I want to save you.” Avoid rejecting your King and Savior.
Prayer: Father from heaven, thank you for your strong love to send Jesus to come and save the world. I pray for those who still ignore your amazing grace and love. May they know it. We recognize that, God, you love your people and you have good plans to save and direct us to have eternal life in grace and peace. Take our hands and bless your people in the name of Jesus. Amen
Jean Claude Habyarimana
is program manager in Rwanda
Easter Sunday, April 17 - Jesus conquers death
“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”
At the fall of man, condemnation followed hence separation with God was the portion of humanity. In God’s own designed way, God made it possible to reconcile with humanity by providing a once and for all means of reconciliation with all of us.
In this passage, it is a prophecy that through the mountain of the cross, God was to overcome the death that befell people by providing salvation through Jesus (verse 7). Death that was the destiny of all humanity was overcome at the cross on the mountain. It is evident that God hinted that He has set victory of life over death and the resurrection of the just. Prophets in this passage gave a very hopeful prophecy about life after death and great reconciliation with God.
Through the death of Christ, humanity found victory over the condemnation of death. They found eternal life in reconciliation with God forever, peace with God and the joy of living.
Conclusion: If we are reconciled with God through the cross of Christ where He shed the blood and died for us, we are welcome to the feast of joy in Christ to celebrate life eternal with God our creator and sustainer of life. We have also overcome death and no need to fear anymore.
Prayer: Dear God, I thank you for considering the state of humanity, the hopelessness of humanity Hence providing Salvation to humanity. Thank you for giving us Jesus, the savior of humanity and for saving me. Thank you for this opportunity to commemorate this special day of Easter in memory of the great act of Christ’s death on the cross. I thank you that I am reconciled with you, and now I have life eternal. May I live my life in trusting you and following your promises, Oh God. Amen
is counseling coordinator in Kenya