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GOOD MORNING,  TODAY IS MARCH 18, 2011

"This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5:18).

Jesus left Jerusalem when things got pretty tense, but now with a Jewish festival at hand, He heads right back down toward the temple again. And He turns the heat back up by healing an invalid on the Sabbath.

Jesus' enemies protest to this breaking of their Sabbath rules. His perfectly natural answer totally enrages them. He says, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." Instead of seeing the Light, they stand in the darkness protesting that Jesus is making Himself equal to God. But protest as loud as they will, Jesus knows who He is and refuses to back down.

The darkness of their thinking is amazing. They would have kept a man trapped in his paralyzed body to keep their Sabbath rules. Thankfully, Jesus saw it differently. And He sees it differently for you and me too. He sees us trapped and helpless in our sins. And just as Jesus stood up for a paralyzed man and set him free on the Sabbath, so will He stand up to any and all opposition to set us free-even though it cost Him His life on the cross.

In the coming days we will see Jesus turn up the noise even louder and see His enemies respond with more hatred. But we will also see Him sacrifice Himself for them. Hanging from the cross He will answer their taunts with a plea: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. ..." (Luke 23:34a).

THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You suffered and died to set me free. Fill me and all Your children with joy and courage to share Your great story of sacrifice and dedication to everyone. Amen.
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