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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’

I wonder how many people in Jerusalem realized how special the approaching high Sabbath would be 2000 years ago?  The pivot point of all human history was days away and I suspect no one aside from Jesus really grasped the import of the times.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea come to mind as two persons that may have had an inkling, but I am certain they didn’t quite comprehend the plan God had in mind.  The hustle and bustle of the ceremonial season would have been a bit of a distraction to them or to any religious leader trying to discern the course of the itinerant preacher named Jesus.

The political intrigue of the religious leaders and the secular authorities would have kept the insiders guessing.  The young and zealous desiring freedom from Rome were a constant threat for bringing down the heavy heel of the Roman legions.  The Roman and Jewish leaders sought to walk a fine line between some autonomy for the people to continue their religious practices and the rule of Rome.  People were pawns to them and the game they played would have kept them clueless to the miracle of miracles that was drawing nigh.

It would seem the most likely to have some insight into what was about to unfold would have been the common folk who traveled with Jesus.  Jesus had told them on a number of occasions that He had to go to Jerusalem to die.  But they too were not able to put the pieces together in this week of preparation.  Some perceived Him to be the Messiah sent from God, but dying???

Even today, we risk overlooking the importance of what God is doing… here, now.  We have the benefit of 2000 years of history pointing to the validity of God’s marvelous plan.  We have written records that clearly demonstrate God moving, saving, recreating, releasing, and empowering the Church… common folk and noble alike.  All who turn to Him can be saved and given new life.  Jesus is alive and at work RIGHT NOW.

But we so easily miss the best because of all the rest.  Political intrigue… yep it’s still here and many are distracted by it.  Religious ceremony… check, we will have our “bells and smells” and Easter egg hunts, our new Easter clothes and church’s filled with CEOs.  (CEO = Christmas and Easter Only).   Sadly, even Jesus-followers sometimes struggle with perceiving how special this time is because of work or vacation (can anyone say “spring break”), or the pressures of life… each of which demand our attention.

Do you sense the importance of what Jesus did this week 2000 years ago?  Do you sense the importance of what He is doing right now?  It is not my intent to beat you up from afar, but I do want you to consider what Jesus did and He is doing.  I encourage you to set aside time to just meet with Jesus this Holy Week and ask Him to help you see it with new eyes.  We are easily distracted, but this most special time is worth the effort to anticipate and experience with wonder.  God gave us the most precious gift in His Son, Jesus.  Jesus offers us salvation (and so much more) through the gift of His life.  He took our sin and exchanged it for His righteousness on the cross.  In this final week before He submitted Himself to the most excruciating of deaths, Jesus poured out such amazing wisdom.  Check out the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last week.  Matthew 21 and following, Mark 11 and following, Luke 19:28 and following, and John 12:12 and following.

I have found that my blessing in Easter grows immeasurably when I allow Jesus to help me in Holy Week to see how special it really is.  My prayer is that you too will experience Jesus in a new a fresh way this Holy Week and into Easter.

Blessings upon you today my friend.

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It is Wednesday of Holy Week in Jerusalem the year 30 AD.  Jesus has less than 48 hours before He is nailed to the wooden beams of a Roman cross.

I often try to put myself in the place of others to see from their perspective.  I have found this an excellent approach at building empathy.  I wonder what Jesus’ mindset was on this Wednesday.  He knew what was before Him.  He had mentioned it to His disciples on numerous occasions (even though it appears they didn’t grasp the immediacy of his prophetic words).  Yet we see in the scripture that Jesus continued His routine.  He resided outside the city, probably in Bethany (Matt 21:17).  His early morning would be spent in communion with the Father.  One of the things I didn’t realize until lately was that Jesus didn’t need to carry a written scroll of the sacred texts.  He had these memorized.  This was actually common among religious Jews, so it is a safe assumption that Jesus knew them by heart.  Of course He knew them – He helped write them.  John 1 tells us that Jesus is the “Word of God” so He knew the scriptures more intimately than any religious person ever could.  He actually understood what each line and phrase was intended to convey.  And that was another reason that He and the religious leaders so often clashed.

After breaking fast with His disciples He would head to back into Jerusalem probably over the road from the Mount of Olives.  Let’s take a minute and consider what breakfast would look like.  Jesus, fresh from His time with His Father in prayer and having been awake for some time already, would be fresh and alive.  I can visualize various members of His band coming in and picking up a piece bread and fruit the women have spread on the table and playful conversations picking up.

“Andrew, did you sleep in the barn again?  You have straw sticking out of your hair.” John asks Andrew as he sleepily walks into the large room.

“Speak for yourself John.  From your smell I would say you slept in the barn AND you haven’t bathed in a month,” Andrew replies.

“Andrew, he is just a boy.”  James exclaims.  “He hasn’t learned that a man must bath at least once a week if he is to share close quarters with his friends.  Out in the fields and walking in the wilderness he can get away with only the occasional ritual bath, but not when we all come to Jerusalem.”

“He will get His ritual bath soon enough,” Jesus says.  “We all will be cleansed very soon.  Passover is upon us my brothers.  A very special Passover indeed.”

After breaking fast they would take the 30 minute or so walk to Jerusalem entering through one of the massive gates in the city wall.  They would proceed to the Temple.  One of Jesus’ favorite places to teach was Solomon’s colonnade.  Here he would take a seat and begin to teach.

These final few days were a political chess match.  Jesus continued to teach and heal while the religious leaders repeatedly tried to trap Him in His words.  One day they asked Him about paying taxes expecting Him to either anger the authorities by saying NO or displeasing the crowds by saying YES.  Instead Jesus says, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God, that which is God’s”.   Another time they demand to know by whose authority He is teaching.  They did not sanction Him therefore that are suspect of His credentials.  Not to mention He takes issue with a significant number of their interpretations of the law.  Jesus answers their question with a question.  “I will answer you if you answer my question first.  John’s baptism – where did it come from?  Was it from heaven or of human origin?”  Now they are trapped because they did not accept John’s baptism and message, but they know the people did.  To answer as they truly believe would risk a riot and further alienation from the people.  But to answer otherwise would reveal their blatant hypocrisy.  So they say, “We don’t know.”

If He was stressed by the continued manipulations of the temple leaders, none of the Gospels bear this out.  And personally, I don’t expect that these things surprised or stressed Jesus.  Not because of the fact of His divinity, but because of His intimacy and trust in the Father.  The impression I take from studying Jesus in the scriptures is One who is 100% confident in Himself because of His absolute connection with the Lord of the Universe.  There is no sin to disrupt that connection.  He consistently seeks to know the Father’s will and communes with Him constantly.  And He is obedient to the uttermost.

A logical question arises – did Jesus know all the events each day held beforehand?  We see that a number of times He is aware of what is going to happen… sending the disciples ahead for the donkey on Palm Sunday, waiting for Lazarus to die before heading to Bethany to raise Him, seeing Nathaniel under the tree before they meet.  But I don’t think this has to be extrapolated that He knows every detail of every day.  In fact, I think He knew the details that He needed to know to be in the right place at the right time.  And I am sure that He was given the words He needed at the time they were needed (see Mark 13:11).  This came from His communion with and total faith in the Father which was reflected in complete obedience.  But in keeping with one of the “secondary” reasons He came and lived among us, for Him to effectively model a life we are to strive for, He would have to “walk by faith and not by sight” some of the time.

I encourage you to take time to put yourself in Jesus’ place on this Wednesday in His final week.  Consider what might be going through His mind.  How did He find the will to move resolutely toward His death rather than look for the way to escape.  Then apply that to where you are right now.  What incremental step can you take to grow your faith and move a little closer to the person the Lord has called you to be… the Lord has equipped you to be… the Lord died for you to be.  Don’t misunderstand.  The Lord isn’t calling a person of little to no faith to immediately become one who boldly faces down the religious leaders and willingly dies for Christ.  But He is calling us to grow in our faith today to be a little stronger today than yesterday.  And then tomorrow to grow a little stronger than we were today.  In time, perhaps less than we can imagine, the Lord will put us in places were our natural response would have been to run and hide, but our faith response becomes to stand and proclaim the goodness and richness of the Lord.

Be blessed today my friend and allow the Lord to make you a blessing to those He puts in your path this day.

 

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