March was a big month for Christians all over the world as Palm Sunday fell during the month. That is, The triumphal return of Jesus to Jerusalem. This major event took place during the month of March, and my devotional marked it by reintroducing me to the reading about it. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's move chronologically through my readings of the month.
On March 7th 2021, I began my readings for the month with an excerpt from the book of Luke. Luke 9:18-27. This excerpt focused on Jesus' denial of self and his command to his followers to deny themselves also. In the excerpt, Jesus says:
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life, will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.
So, in order to save our lives through faith in Jesus, we have to practice a lifestyle of self-denial. We have to be willing to practice restraint and self-sacrifice everyday.
Next, on March 14th 2021, I read from the book of Matthew. The month's excerpt (Matthew 1:18-25) covered the birth and conception of Jesus Christ. In particular, it highlighted the relationship between Mary and Joseph. How, when Joseph found out about Mary's pregnancy, he initially planned to spare her disgrace by quietly divorcing her. How Joseph immediately obeyed God once the Angel delivered his message about Jesus being of the Holy Spirit. And how Joseph & Mary, together, abstained from consummating their marriage until Jesus was born
These acts could not have been done without total obedience to God, and self-control.
Then, on March 21st 2021, I read about Jesus foretelling his own death. This was in John 12:20-32. In particular, these verses stood out to me:
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Somehow, I feel that this image really captures the power behind Jesus' Martyrdom. While he was alive, the word spread according to his travels and miracles. But once he died, his disciples and those who believed went on to spread the word all over the World. His death triggered the foundation of the Christian movement. Which then developed into a religion, and today, we have Christians all over the world!
Finally, on March 28th 2021, I read about Palm Sunday. I guess it's fitting that on the actual day, I spent some time reading about it. As you may already know, Palm Sunday is the last Sunday before Easter, and it celebrates Jesus' return to Jerusalem. It is called Palm Sunday because of the way Jesus' followers lined the streets with cloaks and leaves from trees (presumably palm trees) for Jesus to tread on as he came into the city riding on the back of a donkey.
It was a makeshift red carpet if ever I've heard of one. Closing out the month with this particular reading, reminded me of the upcoming Easter celebration and sort of gingered my Spirit. So to recap, in the month of March, I read about:
- Jesus' call to restraint and self-sacrifice (in other words, self-denial)
- Joseph & Mary's example of a holy relationship
- Jesus' foretelling of how his death would lead to the spread of Christianity (like a kernel of wheat dies to spread its seeds) and
- Jesus' triumphal return to Jerusalem
I must say that this month, the message that stuck with me the most, is Jesus' call to self-denial. It was in the first reading, but you also see it again in the second reading. I'm not sure how far along Mary was when she married Joseph, but for newly weds to refrain from sex for several months must have been challenging.
So I'm going summarize this month's readings as:
Live a Life of Self-Denial for Christ's Sake!