Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jesus' Final Week

I have asked my wonderful husband to be a "guest author" :) each day this week - a week that we reflect on the final days in the life of Christ before His glorious, death-defeating resurrection.  I am excited to personally read what David has written, and I'm thrilled for you to do the same.  Thank you, David, for taking time to share with us regarding these days in the life of our Lord.  I love you, your love for Christ, and your desire to make His glory known to all.  So, those of you reading . . .  keep reading, and be blessed!   

This week Christians from all over the world will be celebrating “Holy Week”, the final week of Jesus’ life on earth. Some will be culminating the final days of a 40 day “Lent” period which usually is characterized by some sort of fasting and intensified prayer and meditation. Many Protestants do not practice Lent and might even be scared of the practice as it seems to be “too Catholic” for them to observe. This fear, however, is unwarranted, and this is one area where I think we can learn much from our “Roman friends”. 

Just as it is good to set aside one day in seven every week to focus more intentionally on our vertical relationship with God, it is also good to set aside larger seasons of time for the same purpose. So long as the practice does not denigrate into mere ritual I believe it can be very profitable indeed. What can be bad about intensified prayer and meditation!

Well, whether or not we have observed the 40 day season of Lent this year it will still be profitable for us to take some extra time this week to meditate on the Lord and His work on our behalf. I have found over the last few years that a fruitful way for me to engage in this meditation is by focusing on each of the last days of our Savior’s time here on earth on the day in which those things transpired. I usually try to focus on one aspect of the day and draw one application to my life. Below is an attempt to illustrate what I mean and provide, I hope, fuel for your meditative fires as well. I am so honored that my bride has let me share her blog this week to do this. Please excuse her if the writing this week is not up to par :)

Sunday  (Mark 11:1-26; John 12:17-50)

We commonly refer to this day as “Triumphal Sunday” or “Palm Sunday”, the day in which Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a colt. Both names point to the fact that this is KING Jesus who enters Jerusalem for the feast. Some have observed, however, that this day might better be referred to as the “a – triumphal entry” since a peasant riding on a donkey followed by a ragamuffin group of “uncouth” people stands in stark contrast to the normal way a conquering general would enter a town, i.e. decked in full armor, riding a white horse, and followed by a retinue of soldiers.

Jesus is, however, making some strong Messianic claims by His actions. Riding the donkey enacts the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, and He receives the acclaim from the crowd that is treating Him as their true King (notice the palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna”). This is a triumphal entry, but it is a lowly triumph, and hence we come to the point of application for today. It is one of the grandest paradoxes of the faith:

There can be no crown without the cross!

Jesus knows that the white horse and warrior robes and faithful army is coming, but they have to be bought first. The next time He comes there will be no confusion as to whether or not it is “Triumphal”.  It will be plain to all. Every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him and all tribes will mourn for Him, even so Amen. Every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Triumphal! He came the first time to deal with sin. The next time He comes it will be for the final salvation of those who are eagerly waiting for Him (Heb. 9:27-28).

But He had to suffer first. He had to ride the donkey. He had to live this week’s Friday. This is what I want going through my head as I go to sleep tonight. Jesus is coming to rule! I too will rule with Him, but for now I am called to share in His sufferings and “in my flesh fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1:24) What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ? NOTHING, except the actual knowledge of those afflictions by the people whom God has given me influence with. They will know those afflictions when I embody them before their eyes. We must tell them the gospel by re-enacting the gospel before them! I hope this causes me to ask myself this week, “Whose affliction am I bearing so that they might know HIM?”

Monday ( Mark 11:12-19)

There are two main actions of Jesus that occurred on this day of Holy Week, the cursing of the Fig Tree and The Cleansing of the Temple. We know these two events are related by the way Mark puts them together and should, therefore be interpreted and applied together. Putting them together this way also signifies to us that Jesus’ activity in the Temple was not a mere cleansing or an attempt to reform, but an act of judgment.

The Fig tree serves as a vivid parable to the condition of Israel’s heart towards God, evidenced by the Temple activity.  Here we have a hungry Jesus coming to a Fig tree in search of some fruit. He hopes to find some, and indeed is led to believe that His quest might prove successful by the fruit promising leaves on the end of the branches. When He gets closer, however, He finds the tree barren and delivers a curse upon it for its hypocrisy.

The Fig tree (often used to depict Israel) represents the nation of Israel as a whole. What Jesus finds at the tree is the same He finds with His people at the Temple. “He came to the Temple and instead of finding fruit and faithful worship, He found nothing but empty form, mere leaves of thievery; thus He judged official Israel and the temple.” (Robert Stein)

So what is the thought that will be running through my head today as I take my son to preschool:

Jesus is concerned about pure worship and will judge those who do not worship thusly!

Today praise the One for turning over the tables of pride in your own heart. Give glory to God for running the lustful and vain ambitions out of the temple of your body and ask for His to be the overwhelming abiding presence in your heart this week. Ask Him to root out any vestures of hypocritical worship in your life and seek to bear fruit in such a way that would bring Him fame!


Tales of a Peanut said...

Thanks for sharing David! I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of the week also.

teresa pugh said...

How wonderful the time spent here this morning. Thank you for sheperding our hearts this week my son. Love, My T

Katie said...

Thanks for blessing us, David! You need to write ALL the time!