I’m the type of person who shuts out the world when I get focused on something. I put my head down and give my attention to what it is I’m concentrating on. Many times I won’t hear anyone talking to me and I won’t talk to anyone else until the job is complete. If I’ve got a todo list, I cross it off when I’m finished and move on to the next thing on the list. The longer the list, the more serious I am. If there are other people around, and they’re not helping, I get frustrated. They can be a distraction from the work I’m trying to do. My attitude can be, “Either help or get out.” Then, when everything is done, I can breathe easy.
I tell you that because that’s how many of us are. We put our head down and work because we have responsibilities, but i want us to look at something today. The most famous parable Jesus told has to be the Prodigal Son. We’ve heard numerous sermons on it focusing on that son, but there are two sons in the story, and i believe Jesus was speaking to that son as much as the other. You see, he was the firstborn and had all the responsibilities on his shoulders. He didn’t go off and party. Instead, he put his head down and worked. Even when his brother returned, he didn’t hear the music or notice workers had left the fields because he was so focused. In fact, he was upset that people were playing when they should have been working.
I love the father’s message to him in Luke 15:32. He said, “It’s only right to celebrate like this and be overjoyed” (TPT). Like him, you and I need to be reminded it’s ok to stop and celebrate successes. Part of the responsibility of the first born is to know when to celebrate. It’s a heavy burden to be the first born, but there’s also a time to rejoice. God wants us to understand that we need to celebrate successes when they come. Life is not just about crossing things off our todo list. It’s about celebrating what God is doing along the way. What has God done for you lately that you need to celebrate?
Photo by Ambreen Hasan on Unsplash
I wasn’t raised to really celebrate Holy Week. In fact, I probably didn’t know it was called “Holy Week” until about a decade ago. We always celebrated Palm Sunday and Easter, but never did anything to celebrate Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. As we celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday, I got to thinking about how this week in Jesus’ life is a lot like many of ours. It’s one more proof that He understands our joys and our pains.
If you are unfamiliar with the story, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. As he entered the city, the people began to lay palm leaves on the road and they shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” It was a parade for a Messiah from a people who thought He was there to deliver them from Roman rule.
He wasn’t there to deliver them from a temporary ruler. He was there to deliver them eternally from sin. They didn’t understand His true purpose. He wasn’t there to be lifted up as a magistrate so all would bow. He was there to be lifted up as a sacrifice for our sins. His purpose was to go there to die and He knew it riding in there that day. I often see pictures and adaptations of Him smiling and waving, but I wonder if that’s accurate. The day before, His face was set like a stone to go to Jerusalem. He was determined to complete His mission.
Somewhere between Sunday and Thursday the crowds turned on Him. The ones who had been yelling “Hosanna” now were yelling “Crucify Him!” Have you ever had life do that to you? One day you were on top of the world. Everything seemed to be going right and then, out of no where, it smacks you down? You’re left with questions, not answers. The ones who were your friends now act like your enemies. Your mind tries to process the information, but it doesn’t add up. “What just happened,” it tries to reason.
Jesus understands those thoughts and doubts. Even though He was determined, He still struggled with the pain and thought of what was going on. His human nature was very much alive. We don’t read about Satan tempting Him here, but you better believe he was working double time on Jesus’ mind during this week. Jesus understands what it’s like to have those closest to you turn their back on you and not even acknowledge that they know you. The difference is He loved them anyway.
Even though they turned on Him, He refused to turn on them. He came here so that we would have forgiveness of our sins. He came to show us that we can still overcome when the world turns its back on us. We can have victory because He was victorious. As you go through this week, don’t just let it be another normal week. Take time this week to read and think through what Jesus went through for you. Be amazed at the pain He endured to show you love and to bring you home. This is Holy Week. This is why He came.
I’m curious to know how others around the world celebrate this week. Let me know how you celebrate it in the comments section below.