Holy Week is something we are invited to live through, not just a historical event with massive implications. Oh, it is that. But we are also invited to walk through it with Jesus.
I put this together a couple of years ago for this blog to serve both purposes. I think it will helps us know and remember stuff. But hopefully we can also re-live it, walk through it.
Monday, TEMPLE TEMPIST
On Monday of Holy Week Jesus went into the temple and caused quite a scene. It’s called “the cleansing of the temple.”
Mark gives us the added detail that Jesus didn’t go straight to turning over the tables of the money changes et al when he entered on the donkey from the Mount of Olives. He looked around, thought about it and came back the next day. This was a deliberate, thought through, calculated act on Jesus’ part. It was designed to make a statement.
Read Mark 11:11-18.
What was “the statement” that Jesus was making?
Jesus came into the “temple” and made a mess of the orderly system they had set up. There are lots of orderly systems that God wants to mess up (See 1 John 3:8)
Now that WE ARE the temple of God, are the tables, systems in my life that we need to invite Jesus to mess up. Sometimes we like the order in our lives, but it’s not an order that is really of God. Jesus may have to turn over a few tables for us to really experience God.
Bonus: Can you connect the whole “fig tree cursing” with the cleansing of the temple?
Tuesday, MATCHING WIT’S
Tuesday and Wednesday of the original Passion Week was a day of debate & discourse mostly in the Temple area. He was spending the nights at Bethany (a walking distance suburb on the other side of the Mt of Olives – see Matthew 21:17) and then they would come into Jerusalem that day. There are tons of great stories, teachings and famous parables that took place on these two days. Let’s focus on the discussions that flowed out of a confrontation with the various flavors of religious establishment that lined up to oppose Jesus and eventually collaborated to have Him killed.
The scene looks something like this: Jesus was teaching in the temple. Below is a huge model of second temple Jerusalem, at the time of Jesus. Find the temple areas. The people would get up early to get to the temple to hear Jesus teach (Luke 21:38). It was crowded and hundreds if not thousands packed around Jesus to hear Him talk and see Him heal. You had to get there early if you wanted to be able to see and hear well.
The leaders interrupt with their questions. This reading is a little longer today.
Read Matthew 21:23- 22:46.
Clearly they aren’t honest seekers. Enquiring minds do NOT want to know in this case.
What are they trying to do? What was their point in asking these questions? Do you detect a theme?
The first question is about the commotion He caused in the Temple. “Who in the wide-world of sports do you think you are?” Skip to the end of the reading. Notice that the last question belongs to Jesus.
Who do you think Jesus is? Really! That question more than any other, will determine what your life, relationship with God and future look like. Jesus came to picture, to explain or exegete God (See John 1:18).
Think about what Jesus is saying about Himself in this reading? What does His Kingdom look like? What does He insist that we understand and acknowledge?
Sometime after the 1st Palm Sunday, on either Tuesday or Wednesday, one of the 12, Judas, finalized his decision and made the arrangements to betray Jesus into the hands of the Jewish religious leaders. This is one of those parts of the story that we have a hard time feeling due to familiarity. When we see Judas mentioned we automatically go the, “Oh yeah, that’s the creep that stabbed Jesus in the back.” Let’s try this week to be shocked as if we were hearing the story for the 1st time. Remember, Judas was one of THE TWELVE! He was in the inner circle!
Let’s remember, of all the people that were following Jesus around, of all the people who were supporting and even a part of the ministry, there were only 12 (representing the 12 Tribes of Israel) that were selected. Here’s how they were selected:
Luke 6:12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
So often we don’t read Jesus words about Judas with much pain, outrage or passion when He is talking to or about this. We hear a droning, “what you do, do quickly”. We hear a calm uninflected, “do you betray me with a kiss?”
Reading: Matt 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:2-6
Today we remember that part of the suffering of Jesus involved the bitter sting of betrayal. Most of us have felt this to one degree or another. Someone who we have opened ourselves up to, who we allowed to be in a position to hurt us, but trusted that they wouldn’t, DID! Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted in every point as we are, yet without sin. That includes all the temptations that go with being betrayed. Compound that with being deserted and let down and denied by the rest of His friends and we begin to see what this week felt like and why we call it the “Passion Week”.
Remember some ways that you have been betrayed, let down, deserted by those that should have been your support. Take a moment to talk to Jesus about it – pour out your heart as to one who knows exactly what this feels like.
Take a moment to think about some of the times that you too have betrayed, denied and deserted Jesus. Remember this is one of the things that drive Jesus to the cross. Let the reality of His “UNCONDITIONAL LOVE” be more than a cliché for you.
This day of Holy Week has a name that has focused our attention for centuries: Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means, “command.” Those of you that speak Spanish know that when you aren’t sure what someone said, “mande?” is a polite way of saying, “excuse me”. Of course you are literally saying, “Command me?” Maundy Thursday reminds us that it is on this day of Holy Week that Jesus issued the new command.
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
That opening phrase in Latin (I’m not at all conversant in Latin, I just make my way through) is – … Mandatum novum do vobis. Thus the name.
The scene is recorded most completely in John 13-16. Jesus has sent some of the disciples to get there room and others to go buy the stuff they will need to eat Pasach (Passover) together that night (remember the Jewish day begins at sunset). So that evening as they are gathered together away from the crowd Jesus during the 3rd of 4 Cups of wine that are drunk during the Seder (Passover meal) gives us what we call the Lord’s supper, or communion, or the Eucharist.
John tells us in that intimate setting Jesus also removed his outer flowing robe tucked a towel into his belt and washed their feet. Wow. The Son of Man DID come not to be served but to served! (Mark 10:45)
He lets us know that this isn’t a “Jesus only thing” but that this is life in the community gathered in His name that we call the church.
Reading: John 13 (If you are reading this to kids and want to shorten it a little by leaving out vs. 21-30).
Take a minute to ponder the wonder that the primary reality of your relationship with God is God serving you. (Yes you read that right) (If it helps read Acts 17:24-25; Isaiah 64:4; Psalm 116:12-13).
Ask God to give you the grace to love with the servant love of Jesus.
Leading up to Passover in Jewish homes, it is traditional to hunt for leaven in the house. Go on a mental leaven hunt. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you some selfishness that is hindering love in your life.
Tonight, at dinner or sometime on Thursday evening, have communion. Take some wine or grape juice and some bread (matzoth would be great) and remember. By yourself, with your roommate or family, remember the stunning act of servanthood that would come the next day, Good Friday.
I’ve always found it ironic that this day is called “Good” Friday. There are other names for it, but I think “Good Friday” is perfect… and ironic. From the point of view of the first group of people who had placed their faith in Jesus, there was nothing GOOD about “Good Friday.” That was for later.
Remember that the way that Christ followers have traditionally celebrated Holy Week is to try and discipline oneself to stay in the moment, to not flip to the last page to see that the hero does win in the end. Keep in mind that Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and even on the cross, experienced the agony of the moment, even though He knew and had told His followers that He would rise victoriously.
On this Friday, let’s remember some of the moments that changed everything.
- As you go to bed on Thursday remember that Jesus was arrested late Thursday night / Friday morning after an intense wrestling with God that ended with “not my will but thine”
- When you awake, think about Jesus being shuffled around Jerusalem in various trials in which He was mocked, spit upon, roughed up.
- 9:00 Jesus was nailed to the cross – asking the Father to forgive His crucifiers. (Mark 15:25 “the third hour” is 9:00 a.m.)
- Noon The cry of dereliction – “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34)
- 3:00 Jesus cries, It is Finished (tetelestai – paid in full) and gives up His life. (John 19:30)
- Jesus’ thrashed body is unfastened from the cross and put in a Garden Tomb.
READING: I’m going to paste it on to the post this time. It is copied from Sacred Space.
John 18:12,17,22-23,33-38,19:1-2, 17-19, 28-30, 40
So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’
Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.
You may also want to read – Psalm 22, Psalm 88, Isaiah 53
Take a moment to simply give thanks.
– Give thanks for God’s indescribable love.
– Give thanks for God’s justice
– Praise God for His truth and His goodness! See Psalm 85:10
– You might want to sing one a praise song about the cross. If you want to go old school and if you know the tune, my favorite is by Charles Wesley:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
What was Jesus doing on Saturday? The scriptures only give us hints that we are probably better off not taking too far.