Day 45

The Most Important Question in the World

Wisdom Psalm 21:8-13
New Testament Matthew 28:1-20
Old Testament Exodus 15:1-16:36


The brilliant professor of philosophy at London University, C.E.M. Joad, was not a Christian. He was asked on a radio programme, ‘If you could meet any person from the past and ask them just one question, whom would you meet and what question would you ask?’

Professor Joad answered without hesitation: ‘I would meet Jesus Christ and ask him the most important question in the world – “Did you or did you not rise from the dead?”’

There came a day in Professor Joad’s life when he assessed the evidence, encountered Jesus himself and wrote a book called, Recovery of Belief. If Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, this changes everything.

When the New Testament writers speak of God’s love they point to the cross. When they speak of God’s power they point to the resurrection. God’s ‘incomparably great power’ was ‘exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead’ (Ephesians 1:19–20). The risen Jesus says to his disciples, ‘All authority (all power to rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matthew 28:18, AMP).

The resurrection means that the risen Jesus is present with you now. Jesus continues, ‘I am with you always’ (v.20).

The result of the resurrection is not only his power and his presence but also his provision.


Psalm 21:8-13

8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;
   your right hand will seize your foes.
9 When you appear for battle,
   you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
   and his fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
   their posterity from mankind.
11 Though they plot evil against you
   and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed.
12 You will make them turn their backs
   when you aim at them with drawn bow.

13 Be exalted in your strength, Lord;
   we will sing and praise your might.


His power

According to the New Testament it is Jesus who is ‘the power of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24).

David praises God for his ‘strength’ and ‘power’ (Psalm 21:13, AMP). He speaks of his confidence in God’s ‘hand’ (v.8a) and in particular his ‘right hand’ (v.8b). In the Bible, the hand, especially the right hand, is used as a symbol of might and power (Exodus 15:6,12). David is speaking of God’s powerful hand in judgment.

In the New Testament, the resurrected Jesus is frequently described as being at ‘the right hand of God’ (for example, Acts 2:33a). When you see those who ‘plot evil’ and ‘devise wicked schemes’ (Psalm 21:11) succeed in life, remember that their power is temporary because Jesus sits at the place of ultimate authority and power at God’s right hand. There will come a time when God will intervene. Jesus is risen and will come again to judge the living and the dead.


Lord, thank you for your great strength and power. ‘Be exalted, Lord, in your strength; we will sing and praise your power’ (v.13, AMP).

New Testament

Matthew 28:1-20

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


His presence

I have found that there is nothing greater in life than to experience the sense of the presence of the resurrected Jesus.

The risen Jesus commissions his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (v.19a). This is our calling as individuals and as a church community. The vision statement of our church is ‘to play our part in the evangelisation of the nations, the revitalisation of the church and the transformation of society’. It is based on this command of Jesus.

Together with the command comes a promise: ‘I am with you always’ (v.20b). The resurrection isn’t just an historical fact or religious idea; it is a life-changing reality. God promises that as you go about fulfilling his commission, the presence of the resurrected Jesus goes with you.

When the women see the empty tomb the angel tells them, ‘He is not here; he has risen… you will see him’ (vv.6–7).

Filled with ‘great joy’ they ran to tell the disciples. As they did so, ‘Jesus met them’ (v.9). They experienced the presence of the risen Jesus (vv.8–10), ‘clasped his feet’ (v.9) and worshipped him as God (vv.9b,17a).

The attempts of others to explain away the empty tomb began very early on (v.13) and, in spite of all the evidence, not everyone believed (v.17b). It was suggested that ‘his disciples… stole him away while [the soldiers] were asleep’ (v.13). Some people still postulate this explanation. But it does not fit the evidence:

  1. The disciples were discouraged and frightened. Only the miracle of the resurrection could have transformed them
  2. They did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead. They had no motive to steal the body
  3. The tomb was heavily guarded (27:62–66)
  4. They were not the only ones who saw Jesus. Many others saw him after the resurrection and interacted with him over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:6)
  5. If the disciples did steal the body, their whole lives thereafter were based on a lie. My friend Ian Walker, a Cambridge scientist, became a Christian because he could not believe that the disciples would have been willing to be tortured and put to death for something they would have known was not true.

It really is true. Jesus is risen. Death and burial are not the end. In Christ, you too will be raised from the dead.

It was women who were the first to be entrusted with the message of the resurrection. This is particularly noteworthy since women at the time were not considered valid witnesses in court. They are one of many examples in the Bible of women in leadership (Miriam in our Old Testament passage for today is another example).

Matthew’s Gospel starts by stating that Jesus is ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). In the very last verse of the Gospel, Jesus affirms his eternal ongoing presence with all of his followers. To those who believe and obey Jesus’ command, he promises, ‘I am with you always’ (28:20b).


Lord, thank you that you send me out to go and make disciples of all nations and you promise that the presence of Jesus will go with me.

Old Testament

Exodus 15:1-16:36

The Song of Moses and Miriam

15 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:

   “I will sing to the LORD,
     for he is highly exalted.
   Both horse and driver
     he has hurled into the sea.

   2 “The LORD is my strength and my defense;
     he has become my salvation.
   He is my God, and I will praise him,
     my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
   3 The LORD is a warrior;
     the LORD is his name.
   4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
     he has hurled into the sea.
   The best of Pharaoh’s officers
     are drowned in the Red Sea.
   5 The deep waters have covered them;
     they sank to the depths like a stone.
   6 Your right hand, LORD,
     was majestic in power.
   Your right hand, Lord,
     shattered the enemy.

   7 “In the greatness of your majesty
     you threw down those who opposed you.
   You unleashed your burning anger;
     it consumed them like stubble.
   8 By the blast of your nostrils
     the waters piled up.
   The surging waters stood up like a wall;
     the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
   9 The enemy boasted,
     ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
   I will divide the spoils;
     I will gorge myself on them.
   I will draw my sword
     and my hand will destroy them.’
   10 But you blew with your breath,
     and the sea covered them.
   They sank like lead
     in the mighty waters.
   11 Who among the gods
     is like you, LORD?
   Who is like you—
     majestic in holiness,
   awesome in glory,
     working wonders?

   12 “You stretch out your right hand,
     and the earth swallows your enemies.
   13 In your unfailing love you will lead
     the people you have redeemed.
   In your strength you will guide them
     to your holy dwelling.
   14 The nations will hear and tremble;
     anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
   15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
     the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
   the people of Canaan will melt away;
     16 terror and dread will fall on them.
   By the power of your arm
     they will be as still as a stone —
   until your people pass by, LORD,
     until the people you bought pass by.
   17 You will bring them in and plant them
     on the mountain of your inheritance—
   the place, LORD, you made for your dwelling,
     the sanctuary, LORD, your hands established.

   18 “The LORD reigns
     for ever and ever.”

19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:

   “Sing to the LORD,
     for he is highly exalted.
   Both horse and driver
     he has hurled into the sea.”

The Waters of Marah and Elim

22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah. ) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

25 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

There the LORD issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.

Manna and Quail

16 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8 Moses also said, “You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”

9 Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’”

10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.

11 The LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’”

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’”

33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”

34 As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. 35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

36 (An omer is one-tenth of an ephah.)


His provision

Are you worrying about the future – your health, your job, your family or your finances? Make a decision today not to worry. Corrie ten Boom said, ‘Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.’ Trust God and learn to live one day at a time.

We see in this passage that God promises to provide, but only one day at a time. Jesus taught us to pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11). Trust God that he will provide for you just when you need it.

The song of Moses and Miriam in chapter 15 is a great example of this trust in God expressed in worship. They praised God for his character (Exodus 15:1–5), then they praised God for what he had done in the past – salvation, rescue and provision (vv.6–12), and finally they praised him for what he would do in the future – guidance, salvation, protection and provision (vv.13–18).

God promises his provision for their material needs. He promises to rain down ‘bread from heaven’ (16:4a) called ‘manna’ (v.31). Each day he provides them with all they need in terms of their ‘daily bread’. Each one gathered as much as they needed (vv.18c,21a). But they were told not to store it up for the future: ‘No one is to keep any of it until morning’ (v.19).

This is something that we have experienced as a church community over the years. God supplies all our material needs but he does not give us more than we need. We do not store up reserves for the future, rather we trust God constantly that he will provide month by month and year by year.

It is always a temptation to want to store up everything we receive as security for the future – rather than trusting God to provide what we need when we need it. This also applies to our spiritual needs – we cannot just rely on past blessings.

It is sad to see in this passage how quickly the people of God seem to forget about God’s goodness and provision in the past and begin to grumble about problems in the present. So often I am tempted to do the same. This passage is a reminder of the need to trust in God’s provision in the good times and the hard times.

Jesus himself tells us that he is the ultimate provision of God. He says, ‘I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever.’ (John 6:48–51).

It is the resurrection of Jesus that gives an eternal quality to this provision. Because Jesus has been raised to life, those who eat this bread will live for ever.


Thank you, Lord, that you promise that ‘[you] will meet all [our] needs according to [your] glorious riches in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19). As I look back with thanksgiving, I look forward with anticipation and trust that you will continue to supply all my needs according to your riches in the resurrected Jesus Christ.

Pippa adds

Matthew 28:1-8

In a culture where women were considered second-class citizens, Jesus appeared first to two women. He chose two ordinary women and entrusted them with the most important news in the whole of history.



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Corrie ten Boom, Clippings From My Notebook, (Triangle, 1983).

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

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