As we enter Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll follow along.
Saturday, a devotional I use invited me to read Matthew 26:14-27:66. Then on Palm Sunday, the congregation followed a little donkey across the church grounds to the front doors as a minister led us in a dramatic reading of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
We were given palm fronds to wave like the crowd that called out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Once inside the sanctuary, the dramatic reading continued using the text from the same scripture I read on Saturday. Chosen for this season in the life of the church, the long passage lays out events from the Last Supper to Jesus’s burial.
What transpired that week rocked the world, especially Jesus’ disciples and other followers. As I read and then listened to the account of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, I tried to put myself in their places. How confusing and frightening it must have been. Even though Jesus attempted to prepare his followers beforehand, they couldn’t begin to understand until after His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Thought Provoking Question
Saturday’s devotional asked me to identify the “threshold” moments I saw in the account. (One definition of threshold is a place or point of entering or beginning, doorway, entrance, portal.)
I thought more about what had been ripped away from Jesus’ followers than a new beginning. The actions of Judas and Peter are so well known, they were the easiest to identify.
How could Judas betray Jesus for money?
And blustery Peter — all talk.
Then there were the disciples who slept while Jesus prayed, the Jewish officials bent on killing Him, members of the mob, mocking soldiers, Pilate, the thieves crucified with Him, the Centurion, casual passersby, Joseph of Arimathea, and the women who watched from a distance.
All had a role in what we’ve come to call the The Passion of Jesus.
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matt. 27:55-56 NIV
MAKING IT PERSONAL
How easy it is to judge poor Peter through hind sight, until I ask myself how often I have run away and hidden. The truth is, I doubt if I could have summoned the courage to follow and watch the proceedings in the face of such danger.
I don’t think I’m alone.
The reading stirred questions about the Church in 2017.
I HAVE TO ASK
† Does maintaining the status quo ever justify packing the court in favor of our position?
† Does our need for acceptance prevent us from thinking for ourselves?
† Are we tempted to use our power to humiliate someone with a differing opinion?
† Do we avoid accepting responsibility by pawning if off on others and washing our hands of unfair consequences?
† Are we brave enough to honor someone who falls out of favor and is “crucified” by public opinion?
† Are we strong enough to be as faithful as the powerless women who kept watch during the worst day of their lives?
† Are we humble enough when we’re guilty of wrongdoing, to admit it and seek forgiveness. Or do we make excuses because we’re too proud to admit our misdeeds?
MOMENT OF TRUTH
Each time I
† fail to stand up for the truth of the Gospel
† seek to work out my own plan
† vote with the crowd
† look out for myself first
I deny and betray Him.
But the Good News is, even when I’m at my worst, Jesus understands my frailty. And thankfully, His resurrection didn’t depend on undependable followers.
I look forward to Sunday when we’ll celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. But until then, I invite you to remember with me what He suffered on our behalf.
Through the power of His cross, he still invites us to step across the most important threshold of our lives — the one that leads into eternity with Him. All we must do is acknowledge our need for a Savior and accept His sacrifice.
Faith is a mystery that each of us has to explore. But this I know from experience, when we honestly seek Him, He will come. Whatever happens, I want to be found faithful like those women who kept watch — especially when I don’t understand.
I hope you will consider Jesus, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.
If you’ve met Him, I am certain you will be honoring Him come Easter morn.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled with God by the death of his Son, much more, now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Romans 5:10 JUB