Following Jesus Through the Gospels During Holy Week

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This is “Holy Week” or the week of Jesus’ “passion.” Christians are following Jesus through the events of His life on the journey toward the Cross and to His Resurrection. Its a helpful practice to read and reflect on the events of “Holy Week.”  Professor Michael J. Wilkins has created a “harmony” of the Gospels for Holy Week and the publishers of the ESV (Crossway) have made it available in an interactive form.

I suggest you read and pray through the texts for each day. Jesus’ disciples followed Him into this week and the Gospel writers gave substantially more script to recording the last week of Jesus’ life in order to capture the significance of His death and resurrection. Set yourself into the very real and human moments of the week in which our Saviour persists in displaying His unity with our Heavenly Father’s plan to forgive sinners and draw them into His love.

When I was preparing for the “Palm Sunday” message I was floored by a little line I have just breezed past for years.

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
Matthew 21:14

In the moments after Jesus cleared the Court of the Gentiles of the temple money changers and merchants it must of been quiet. Jesus began to teach. He declared, “My house will be a house of prayer but you have made it a den of robbers.” As he taught in the quiet, the blind could make their way to Him. As he taught in the spaciousness, the lame could make their way to Him. And in His last public act of healing, Jesus turned outsiders into insiders. These blind and lame could have gone no farther into the Temple Courts. But now after being healed they could. They were no longer second-class citizens. The human realities of their imperfections would no longer preclude them from full participation in the covenant. Wow! The clearing of the Temple and this moment of healing is a prelude to the Cross.

Jesus is going to the Cross in order to prepare the way for our full inclusion in the communion of God.  He goes to the Cross in order to fulfill the love and justice of God. He goes to the Cross in order to fulfill the cost of a sinner’s forgiveness. He goes to the Cross in order to heal and include the spiritually blind and lame. He goes on to the Cross in order to heal and include you and me.

Praise the Lord!

 

I hope you will journey with Jesus through the Holy Week by using  the  “harmony” of the Gospels for Holy Week. And I pray asking our Heavenly Father to grace you with moments of new insight and awe at His love displayed through the life and death of Jesus.

Jesus revealing God fully

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8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.  Colossians 2:9-10

I believe it would be a mistake to read this passage as if Paul was against good thinking. Christianity has a reasonable basis for faith and it has an appreciation of the stewardship of the mind for life. Much of philosophy casts a vision of living well. For some, these systems of thought cast a vision of living well does not include God and may well indeed be in opposition to Jesus.

Paul is concerned for these followers of Jesus that they be aware of the views and systems of thought aligned against the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for knowing God. So he reminds them of this magnificent declaration of the Gospel: Jesus is God and He indwells His people. Jesus is fully revealing God.

Jesus, the man — is fully indwelt with God.
Followers of Jesus — are now indwelt with Jesus who is in charge.

We are filled now in Christ Jesus with the One from whom all rule and authority flows through the His Holy Spirit. There is no secret knowledge or special rituals required to get you into the grace of God.

In the tension of troubles in life its important to remember, God is not holding out on you. As Peter writes in 2 Peter 1, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

photo credit: by Nathaniel O’Brien

Real

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1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.  1 John 1:1-3

Christianity is concerned with what is real. Among the realists and materialists of my community there is a steady fear of religiosity composed of spiritual mumbo jumbo or far out stories or a cult of secret knowledge. I share that fear. However, I also believe our danger is to construct meaning from our achievements with a short-sighted view of life that excludes eternity.

John, the author of this letter, believes reality has a facet that must be  revealed. He treats the life, message and identity of Jesus of Nazareth as an undeniable reality. He writes to the churches of Asia Minor in the last decade of the first century affirming the message of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Life. Jesus is the reality. For John, the Word of Life proclaimed to the churches was a matter of historical reality. The apostles where declaring Jesus, whom they had

heard,

saw,

observed with interest, and

touched.

John says, Jesus was real. Having been with Him, John believes Jesus Christ came from the communion of the Father and Spirit to make the life of God knowable and accessible to us.

Restore Gently

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1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:1-2

 

Have you noticed how guilt, shame, and fear generate violence?

 

The guilty one must be punished.

 

The shameful one must be removed.

 

The the one who produces fear must be controlled.

 

In the fellowship of the church spiritual maturity has its wisdom that avoids  violent and dominating expressions in the pursuit of change.

 

Thus Paul who once subscribed to violence (Acts 9) as a way to effect change, now avoids it in the grace of Jesus.

 

If in your close circle of friendship you see one caught in a sin, seek to restore them gently.

 

Restoration occurs first to Jesus, and then toward self and others.

Restoration creates space to discover what one truly wants.

Restoration sheds light on the nature of the trap created by sin.

Restoration creates availability for company under this burden.

Restoration continually celebrates the love of Jesus in the Gospel simultaneously showing how He bears the weight of our guilt, shame, and fear at the Cross.

What kind of god lies?

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1Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; Titus 1:1-3

The Gospel showed me God keeping His promise.

Eternal life available through Jesus Christ.

Just as He promised.

Made known now through the preaching of the Gospel.

By people entrusted with the Gospel and animated by God’s command.

What kind of god lies?

The one that wants to use me up.

False promises constructed on shiny words

fail to deliver the life Jesus intends.

But echoing in the chambers of my heart is the lie of the gods:

if you have achievement,

beauty or strength,

riches,

then you will have power, control,

and love.

The lie lasts but only  a while.

The love of our Saviour lasts

forever.

Jesus does not lie.