Tag Archives: Holy Week

Holy Week: Day 4

The Bible doesn’t record any activity for Wednesday during Jesus’ final week. It is silent. We can assume a lot of things, but the truth is that we don’t know what went on. I think it was the calm before the storm. It was that moment of silence before it all broke loose. We assume Jesus was in Bethany where He finished up Tuesday. He could have spent the day preparing for the Passover since it was going to begin shortly. He knew what was coming even though the others didn’t.

I recently watched an interview with Jesse Martin who was the youngest person to sail around the world solo and unassisted. He was 17 years old when he set sail. During the interview, they showed some footage from the documentary “Lionheart” that was made from his trip. In one of those clips, he looks at the camera and says, “Something’s wrong. It’s too quiet. I’ve been watching the barometer and it just keeps falling. It’s eerily quiet out here. I’m going to prepare the boat for the worst and get ready for anything.” He started tying up all loose ends, putting things where they went, securing anything that might be lost as it was tossed about. His instincts were right and his preparations weren’t in vain.

A bad storm came that night and flipped his tiny ship on its side several times. Winds reached 80 miles per hour, the boat was damaged, he lost a couple of things too, but he survived. When asked about how that affected him, he said, “The day after the storm was over was one of my happiest days. I knew that I had survived and was going to make it.” He felt a sense of accomplishment because his losses were minimal and because he recognized that something was wrong and did something about it.

Jesus knew that this was His final week. The barometer was falling and there was a sense that something was wrong. This week was all about Jesus preparing for the storm that was coming. Even though He knew it was coming, His flesh was still very much alive and active. He spent all day tuesday battening down the hatches in the temple. He gave many parables and answered lots of questions to get everyone else prepared for what was coming. On Wednesday, I believe He was finished getting ready for the storm and just spent time with His disciples savoring every moment. He was all about relationships and He knew what Thursday evening would bring.

God is not afraid of silence and neither should we. If you’re in that moment before a storm in your life, make preparations now. If you feel a storm brewing and it’s eerily calm, trust in God to get you through. The storm is on His radar and He’s given you insight so that you can prepare. If you aren’t sure how to prepare, spend time in prayer. Read the Bible and put God’s Word in you. It will act as an anchor to hold you through the storm. You may get knocked over, the winds may beat against you, and you might even sustain some damage. Storms don’t last forever though. You will emerge stronger and happier because you will know that through Him, you can survive anything.

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Holy Week: Day 2 & 3

On day 2 of Jesus’ final week before the crucifixion, Mark 11:12 tells us that Jesus was hungry. He looked up, saw a fig tree with leaves on it and went to it because fruit typically appears at the same time as leaves. There were no figs on it yet because the season hadn’t yet come. Jesus cursed the fig tree and moved on. Jesus expects us, as much as that fig tree, to produce fruit. He’s hungry for us as believers to tell His story and to show them the way to forgiveness that can only be found at the cross.

Jesus went to the temple for the second day in a row. He found that nothing had changed since He overturned the tables the day before. A holy anger came over Him and He began flipping the tables over again. He saw people using the temple as a shortcut and stopped them. They would walk through it instead of around it. I see in this that we need to be repeatedly cleansed by Jesus. We need Him to come into our temple daily and to cleanse it. We all have sin that seems to come back often. We need to be vigilant against it and keep turning over the tables on it. Church is not a shortcut to getting past the problem. Prayer is how we break the cycle.

The next day, Jesus came back to Jerusalem. As they passed the fig tree, Peter noticed it was withered to the root. Surprised about it, he shouted out for everyone to notice it. Jesus was matter of fact in verses 22-25. He said, “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it and nothing will be too much for you.” He then told them that if they would include everything in their prayers, they’d get everything. Too many times we don’t fully embrace the faith we profess. We embrace the parts of it that we want and try to do the rest on our own. We don’t get everything we ask for because we haven’t yet trusted God for everything.

He also says in this teaching that when we “assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive – only then will your Heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.” I spent a lot of my life making my prayer time nothing but requests. I’ve learned that the relationship God wants to have with us is not for us to use and abuse Him. He’s not a genie sitting there waiting to grant our wishes. He wants us to know Him personally. He wants us to become more like Him. He wants us to forgive others the way He forgives us. He wants us to let go of people’s past the way He let go of ours. When we get this, we’ll experience all He has for us.

Finally on day 3, Jesus went back to the temple. This time the priests were waiting on Him. I wonder if the money changers were sitting there and started packing up their stuff. The priests asked Jesus what authority did He have to come in and wreck the temple each day. Jesus responded with a question of His own, “Who gave John the Baptist his authority?” They were trapped and refused to answer. He then told several parables to them and they continued to try to trap Him with questions throughout the day. His message to them and to us is that He will not be tricked into doing what we want. He wants us to be in obedience to what His will is and then we will receive the blessings that follow obedience. Life is not about us, it’s about Him. To whom does your life point?

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Holy Week: Day 1

This week I’m going to follow the last week of Jesus before His crucifixion. I believe there are some important things that we can find when we trace His final steps. It started and ended on a Sunday and that’s what I’ll be covering. Yesterday was Palm Sunday. We also know it as the triumphal entry. Jesus was coming from Bethphage and He sent a couple of disciples over to a nearby village. He told them there would be a donkey and her colt, and then He asked them to bring them to Him. He said to tell anyone that asks, “The Master needs them.”

I think the donkeys represent you and I. We are stubborn at times. We don’t always want to do what God asks us to do when He asks us. We are tied up with things that prevent us from doing everything we could do for God. It takes one word from Jesus to set us free. Others may try to stop us and keep us from serving the Master, but He needs us. We’ve got to learn to be obedient when He asks and live our lives so that we won’t get entangled by the things of this world.

The next thing Jesus did was to ride the colt into Jerusalem. As He did, people began to take off their cloaks and lay them on the street in front of Him. Other climbed trees and cut down Palm leaves to lay in His path. As He rode through the city, they cried out, “Hosannah to the son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of The Lord.” As I think about the clothing being laid in the streets, I think of God’s provision. In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “If God clothes the grass of the field, will He not much more surely clothe you?” We have to learn to recognize that what we have has been given to us by God and we need to lay it at His feet to give back to Him.

Jesus then rode the colt all the way to the temple. When He went in, He became angry and drove out “all who bought and sold in the sacred place.” He said to them, “The Scripture says, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer.'” In the New Testament, our bodies are the temple. They are sacred and should be treated as such. We should think of the things we allow in them that would upset Jesus. What do we put in our minds, our hearts or our souls that keep us from being houses of prayer? What are the things that distract us from communing with God. We’ve got to chase those things out of our lives and return to prayer.

In Jesus’ final week before the crucifixion, He started setting the donkey free to use it. He then accepted the praise of His people as He rode through. From there, He cleansed the temple setting the stage for the week that was to come. For us, we can reflect on that to see how God wants to use us. We can look into our lives for the things that tie us up. We can look at all we have and offer it back to Him as a praise offering. Finally, we need to let Him cleanse our temples. Ask Him to show you things in your life that need to be cleansed. There is so much God wants to do for us and through us, but we’ve got to be free and ready when He comes.

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Taking a Risk for Jesus

I’m sure you are well aware that today is Good Friday. This is the day that Jesus was crucified. The nailed Him to the cross around 9:00 AM and He hung there being ridiculed for six hours. Around 3:00 PM, He released His spirit and died. I’m not going to focus on that today though. What I am going to focus on is a verse in Mark 15. Verse 43 says, “Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (NLT)”

I was being interviewed for a position with the company I work for and the person doing the interview broke script. He said, “Chris, I really just want to know one thing. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?” My mind raced. Was he talking personally? Did he mean in business? Was he referring to helping a customer? I couldn’t think of anything right off the bat. If he was to have asked Joseph, this would have been his answer.

First of all, he approached Pilate who was ruthless and had no problem killing people. I’m sure Pilate was on edge because of the mob mentality that had gone on the night before. He was probably cranky from getting little to no sleep. Now, one of the Jewish leaders, a secret follower of Jesus, came in uninvited and was asking for the body of Jesus. Joseph’s mind was probably racing thinking of all the possible outcomes of this meeting. Only one had a positive outcome.

Pilate agreed to release the body to him. Joseph purchased a linen sheet to wrap jesus body. The book of John tells us that Nicodemus helped Joseph. Both men had been secret followers of Jesus up to this point. When all of Jesus’ outspoken followers were to scared to come out of the shadows, two men who could have lost their positions risked their lives, their income and their families in order to see to it that Jesus didn’t hang there through the Passover.

When’s the last time you took a risk for Jesus? Don’t just move on here. Think about that for a minute. Are you like I was in that interview? Is your mind racing trying to think of something? Anything? It’s tough. We are conditioned not to take big risks in our life and in our faith. We’re taught to look out for ourselves first, but that’s not what Jesus taught. Even the night before His crucifixion, He was teaching them to put others first as He washed their feet.

What risk can you take today for Him? I’m not asking you to put your life on the line, but I am asking you to put your foot in a door that has already been opened. You’ve just been too scared to say anything about your faith. You’ve been too afraid to invite them to church. What better time than this weekend? They’ll hear the true reason for Easter and that someone else risked their life for theirs. Isn’t eternity for someone else worth the risk? Jesus thought it was and we should too.

I wrote another post a couple of weeks ago that would be great to read today. It’s called Playing Pilate. Click here to check it out.

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The Passover Meal

If you know me, you know I love to eat. I always say, “If I’m not eating, I’m thinking about eating.” So it should come as no surprise that I have a particular interest in the Last Supper. It was Thursday night as Jesus and the disciples sat around a table sharing what would be their last meal together. If you’ve been in church any amount of time, you’ve no doubt experienced a service where this meal was celebrated.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 26:26-28 that Jesus broke the unleavened bread and blessed it. He gave it to the disciples and said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” Then he took the cup of wine and gave thanks for it. He then gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people.”

The traditional meal at Passover has several parts to it, but Jesus called out these two particular parts on purpose. The unleavened bread was to remind the people how quickly they fled Egypt. They made bread, but didn’t have time to add yeast (leaven) to make the dough rise. It was a symbol that they had been released from bondage. Let’s think about that for a second.

Jesus just said that the bread was His body. His body was broken so that you and I could be set free from our bondage. Sin is something that binds each of us and makes us a slave to it. We are born into that bondage. Jesus is telling us that we don’t have to be bound to it any more. Because of His death on the cross we can be released from that bondage and set free. When we accept His death on the cross as payment for our sins, we cease to be slaves and become sons and daughters of the King. Heirs to all that is His.

After eating the unleavened bread, Jesus took a glass of wine, blessed it and passed it around. Again, wine was traditional for this meal. In fact, there were four glasses of wine used at this meal. They represented the four promises (covenants) of God given to Moses regarding His people. The four promises found in Exodus 6:6-7 are: I will bring you out of Egypt (sin), I will free you (from its bondage), I will redeem you (pay for your sins) and I will take you as my own people (make you a child of the King).

What I found interesting was in Luke 20:22. It says, “After supper He took another cup of wine and said, “This cup (fifth) is the new covenant (promise) between God and His people – an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. (NLT)” Jesus fulfilled each of the four promises given to Moses and now He, as God, was making a new covenant with His people. He was sacrificing Himself once and for all for our sins and to tear down the wall that existed between God and man.

God was not content to leave us bound in our sin and separated from Him. He loves us too much to do that. He was willing to sacrifice what was most precious to Him in order that you and I could be made right with Him. He not only wanted to bring us out of sin, free us from its bondage, pay for our sins and make us His children; He wanted to enter into a new relationship where we didn’t need a mediator anymore. He wanted to talk with each one of us without having to go through someone else. He wanted a relationship with you and still does.

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Break Your Box

It was Wednesday of Holy Week and Jesus was a guest in the home of Simon the leper. While He was reclining at the table, a woman from the village silently walked in the room. Every eye was on her and the alabaster box she was carrying. The fragrance peeked through the box giving those around her a tease of the pure Nard that was inside. Suddenly, without warning, she broke the box and poured the perfume on Christ. The fragrance permeated the house. I imagine everyone closed their eyes and drank in the smell of this perfume with a slow, purposeful breath through their noses.

There was no undoing of this gesture. The box had been broken and all of the perfume purposefully poured out on Jesus. When others criticized her for her actions, Jesus said in Mark 14:8, “She has done what she could.” He accepted her offering and it was a sweet, savory smell to Him. No one else in the room had the will to do what she had done, though they all had the ability. We each have the ability to do great things for God, it’s having the will to do them that stops most of us.

Like the disciples and others in the room, we start adding up the cost of doing something for God and find all the reasons we can’t or shouldn’t do them. We allow our minds to tell us, “It’s not worth it. Your resources are better spent elsewhere.” All these excuses come in that keep us from being obedient. We also wonder what others might think if we do what God has called us to do. But not this lady. She didn’t care what the others thought, and neither did Jesus!

In fact, He said that wherever the Gospel would be preached, what she did will be told about. A single act of obedience has been told all over the world over a couple of thousand years. Why? Because she had the will, not just the ability. We wish we had her kind of will power to do something so extravagant, so costly for Christ. We all have the ability in us to do it. We just lack her will. We lack her recklessness.

I don’t know if she had doubts. I’m sure she did. She was probably even scared, but she didn’t let those things stop her. She knew once she broke the box, there was no turning back. Once she broke the box, she was committed. So she walked in and broke it immediately before doubt, the disciples or fear could stop her. She poured out this costly perfume on Jesus even though His own disciples criticized her. She wasn’t concerned about their approval. She was concerned about His.

What box have you been holding that has your precious gift in it? What’s keeping you from breaking it and using it for Christ? You have the ability to do what He called you to do. You have the strength to do it. It’s time to get the will to do it no matter what others say. If you are holding it back because of others, remember that it’s not their approval you seek. It’s His. Step out and break that box today. Let your story be told wherever the Gospel is preached.

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Cleaning Your Temple

One of the first things Jesus did after His triumphant entry into Jerusalem was to go to the temple. When He got there it was crowded with merchants who were buying and selling the items needed for sacrifices. There were even people there who would loan people money to buy what they needed for the sacrifices. The Message calls them loan sharks. Jesus became angry and kicked over the tables and threw them out of the temple.

As I read that, I’m reminded that I Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are the temple now. It got me to wondering, “What would Jesus kick over in my life? What things have I set up that make Him upset? What keeps me from being a ‘House of prayer?'” They’re tough questions to ask, but they need to be asked. None of us are perfect, nor will we ever be. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try to do what’s right.

As Jesus was heading to the cross, He wanted to make sure that people understood what was important to Him. The first thing on His list was to clean out the temple. It was so full of other things that the poor and the crippled couldn’t get in. When we fill our lives with so many things that aren’t what God wants in them, we don’t have room for the things He wants to put in them. We miss out on blessings.

The options are clear. We can have Jesus come in, kick things over and make room, or we can make the adjustments ourselves. Personally, I prefer the latter. If we become people of prayer, we will hear God more. When we hear a God more, we will know more of what His will is for our lives. His will isn’t for us to live our lives for ourselves, but for others. The problem is that most of us don’t have room for others in our lives because we’re full of things for ourselves.

Hebrews 12:1 says that we are to cast aside and to strip off every weight that clings to us and entangles us. Verse two tells us how to do it. It says, “We do this by keeping our eye on Jesus.” He wasn’t concerned about Himself, He was concerned for others. His entire reason for coming here was to seek and to save the lost. He knew what kind of a price He would have to pay to build the bridge between us and God. He knew it meant sacrifice. Even when He got to Jerusalem for Holy Week, He told them what was about to happen.

Am I willing to make sacrifices in my life so others may know God? Is there room in my life for the emotionally, physically and spiritually poor and crippled? Am I concerned more with others eternity than my own temporary, physical comfort? What do I need to move out of my life in order to make room for what God wants to put in? These are tough questions that I’m asking myself. Hopefully, you’re asking yourself the same questions. It’s time we did a spring cleaning of our temples.

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