On Sunday night I felt God asking me to make this week extra special for Him. I felt the need to encourage my Sunday night class to make this week all about Jesus. Yes, life on earth will still go on as usual, but I wanted them to find their own ways to make this week different.
Sometimes my ignorance is embarrassing. Case in point, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as “Holy Week.” Yes, I had heard about Maundy Thursday (only 2 years ago), Good Friday, and, of course, Easter, but I didn’t realize there was great significance for the entire week. So imagine my delight when God confirmed his whispers by leading me to tons of writings on Holy Week! It also goes to show you that when God prompts you to do something, you better do it. Because I failed to do so, I am now a day behind. Please bear with me as I try to catch up by posting several shorter posts today instead of one great big long one.
Timeline of Holy Week (approximate)
Sunday (Palm): Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey where people are lined on the streets waving palms and shouting Jesus’ praises.
Monday: On his way to the Temple, Jesus curses a fig tree for failing to bear fruit. Once at the Temple Jesus becomes angry over the obvious corruption. He overturned tables and drove out the corrupt money changers.
Tuesday: Jesus confronts religious leaders, and does his most preaching of the week. Tuesday is also the supposed day Judas contracts to betray Jesus.
Wednesday: There is no mention of what happens on this day. After three busy days and the big event to come, it is speculated that it was a day of rest for Jesus and his disciples.
Thursday (Last Supper/Maundy Thursday): This is the first day of Passover and Jesus and his disciples meet for their Passover Feast. Before the feast, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. During the meal, Jesus stated that this would be his last meal with them and shared the first communion. Jesus also talked about his forthcoming betrayals. Late into the evening Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. It was there that Judas betrayed him with a kiss and was arrested.
Friday (Good Friday): In the early morning hours on Friday, Peter’s betrayal (denying Jesus three times) comes to light and Jesus begins the first of 6 trials. It is during these early morning hours that Judas killed himself. After the final conviction Jesus went through brutal torture and mockery and was forced to carry His own cross to Calvary for His ordered crucifixion. Jesus died approximately at 3PM Friday afternoon.
Saturday: Jesus body laid in the tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers, until the end of the Sabbath after 6PM when it was prepared for burial.
Sunday (Resurrection Sunday/Easter): Several women went to the tomb early Sunday morning and discovered the stone was rolled away. An angel appeared and told them that Jesus had risen! Jesus made at least 5 appearances that day, meaning people actually saw Jesus after His death.
During this Holy Week, I would like to take the time to look at each day closely and not only look at what was done but what was taught. Yes, I am a little behind, but bear with me, I will catch up.
Day 1: Palm Sunday:
John 12:12-19 (NIV): The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[e]
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”[f]
16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfills the prophecy in Zachariah 9:9. It also marks the first time where Jesus was meted with such praise and honor. It was also this very same praise and honor that sealed His fate. The Jewish leaders could ignore little bits of worship here and there, but seeing the vast number of people coming out to honor Jesus was a reality check. They knew they had to act soon.
My pastor gave a sermon this last week a little different from what I have ever heard preached before regarding Palm Sunday. I would like to share a little of it here:
Jesus came in like the King He truly is. Shouts of praise came from everywhere. One would think it did a heart good to finally be accepted. But the truth is more likely that while He may have enjoyed part of it, He knew what was to come. Not only did He know Judas would betray Him and Peter would deny Him, He knew these same people would crucify Him. He knew their praises would soon turn to mockery. He knew the real reason they were there: the miracles and power.
John 12:17-18 (NIV): Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him.
A large portion of the crowd was there because they heard what Jesus could do. They went because they wanted to see what Jesus could do for them. As we will later see, they wanted a powerful King. They wanted someone with a sword. Someone who would come in and fight and release them from the control of the Roman government. They didn’t want a meek King who rode a donkey.
We often think badly of these people when a lot of times we are no better. We tend to make God into what we want Him to be and not who He truly is. We pick the parts of the Bible we like and follow those scriptures, all the while ignoring the ones we can’t make fit into our vision. We shout praises when things are going well. Yet, yell curses when things start to go south. We want God for what He can do for us. We love when we see evidence of God’s power. We love to live on the mountaintops.
God really spoke to me with this sermon. You see, my closeness with God often depends on what God is doing in me and through me. When I see evidence of His spirit or feel Him, then my relationship with Him is strong and therefore, my effectiveness. However, when there is quietness, my effectiveness suffers because every day, mundane life bores me. It doesn’t feel enough. I want to live a life for Christ. I want to go out and do something. I don’t just want to get up, go to work, and take care of the kids, house, and husband. I want more. God used Pastor Cathy’s sermon to warn me about becoming power-hungry or gift-minded. Ever since I was filled with the Spirit, I have spent countless hours in my Bible, seeking, seeking, and seeking. I pray to be used for miracles, I pray to witness miracles, I pray for gifts of the spirit. I talk, teach, preach to people about the Holy Spirit. I have, in a sense, become preoccupied with the Holy Spirit and neglected other areas of my ministry. There is nothing wrong with the Holy Spirit, miracles, healings, etc., they are definitely a part of God’s plan, but they are only a part not the whole. I have to make a commitment to love God first and foremost despite circumstances, despite feelings. I cannot be led by my emotions; I must be led by Christ. God is God even when I can’t see or feel Him. I don’t want to be like the people who came and praised Christ one day and then was yelling “Crucify Him” less than a week later.
I want to follow, worship, and praise Christ for the right reasons. God, thank you for the redirection and help me to become more like our humble Savior. In Jesus name, I pray, AMEN!