Things Jesus may want us to see about his love for us during Holy Week.
By Jeff Broadnax, US East Associate Regional Director
Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1)
Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem to shouts of “hosanna” and a few days later, his disciples would experience that same city echoing the sounds of “crucify him.”
None of this surprised Jesus, who knew this final week would end in the salvation of humanity. Our Lord demonstrated his love in ways that ought to cause us to stop, reflect and praise him. It truly was a “holy week” and one worth celebrating. Following are some key moments during holy week that we in GCI embrace and celebrate.
Jesus’ triumphal entry (John 12:13-18, Matt 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-38)
The celebration of this event normally takes place on the Sunday prior to Easter, a day the Christian community calls Palm Sunday. On this day, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey after people spread their cloaks and palm branches on the road in honor. As he entered the city, the people shouted “Hosanna,” which in Hebrew means “Save us.”
This moment celebrates the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies of Zechariah 9:9 and Isaiah 62:11, and allowed the Jews to celebrate the true king from David’s throne (1 Kings 1:28-38).
Jesus was establishing himself as the victorious and triumphant king of Israel. He is the king who rules in a love that empowers us to walk in our everyday life in victory because of what he has done!
Prayer thought—Ask God to help you approach Palm Sunday with the assurance that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords of the world and of your individual life. Because of that, we praise God for his assurance that nothing can stand against him.
Cleansing of the temple (Matt 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18)
Jesus entered Jerusalem, looked around and saw that this place of worship and repentance had been disrespectfully turned into a place of idolatry. People’s focus was on themselves and their power and wealth, not on submission and praise to the Holy One in heaven.
Jesus turned over the tables of the abusers of the people to restore the house of God to its original and glorious purpose – a place to seek repentance and to prayerfully and worshipfully seek the Father with all our mind, heart, soul and spirit.
Prayer thought—Pray that anything that you might do that misuses your temple—(body, mind, heart and soul)—be restored and submitted to Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Supper/Maundy Thursday (Matt 26:17-27:31; Mk 14:12- 15:20; Lk 22:7-23:25; Jn. 13:1-19:16)
The verse we began this article with begins a chain of events—leading to the crucifixion—that show Jesus was fully human and fully divine and the only person capable of serving as our blameless sacrifice, our master, our king, our high priest, and our eternal intercessor.
Jesus takes us from the upper room, where he washes feet and introduces the new covenant communal symbols. He then teaches about his love, warns the disciples about the immediate future, prays for them, gives them a new commandment and fills them with hopeful anticipation for the Holy Spirit. He invites them to the garden to pray about the cup he must drink. He is then betrayed, abandoned, mocked, beaten, rejected, denied, challenged and tortured. Yet through it all he is resolute that they will see him “coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Prayer thought—As you prayerfully walk through these verses and see all that Jesus taught, went through and prayed on this powerful evening, you can thank him for loving you enough be tempted in every way like we experience and yet not sin?
Crucifixion—Good Friday (Matt 27:27-56; Mk 15:16-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn. 19:17-30)
This is the day Christ secured our salvation. Generally, we focus most of our attention on the crucifixion or as John wrote it, “the full extent of his love.” Because he was slain from the foundation of the world, we don’t usually have a hard time appreciating the depth of his sacrifice. But have you ever considered what the crucifixion must have been like for the soldiers who mocked him, the man commandeered to carry his cross through the streets, the people who cried out for his crucifixion, his mother or disciples, or those in the temple when the veil was torn from top to bottom?
How about Barabbas or the two insurrectionists on the cross with him? What did Jesus intend for his crucifixion to mean for them? When he said, “it is finished,” what did Jesus want humanity to understand?
Prayer thought—Ask God to help you truly understand what Jesus meant when he said, “It is finished.” What is finished? What does that mean to you and me? Ask God to help you understand who Jesus was referring to when he said, “Father forgive them…” Is there anyone God did not include in that forgiveness? Let’s pray we don’t exclude anyone in extending God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.
One very interesting part of Holy Week is what is called Holy Saturday. This day represents the silence of the tomb and the “rest” of Jesus after finishing his work. Because Jesus has been crucified and buried, this day challenges the followers of Jesus to believe even though they haven’t seen. What would the disciples have been feeling and thinking on that Saturday?
Were they living in expectation of the resurrection in the morning? Not according to the biblical narrative we have from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It seems like the concept of Jesus loving them to the “end” left the disciples believing that his death was the end.
Humanly, feeling that way makes perfect sense, but Jesus had promised and shown in Lazarus earlier in the week that he had power over death. He was the resurrection and the life. This Saturday challenges their ability to believe without seeing.
Prayer Thought—What is one thing Jesus has taught you about his love during this study of holy week that you have found hard to believe without seeing?