If you were in church last Sunday there may have been palm branches. If so, it would have been just like it was about 2000 years ago in Jerusalem, the week before Jesus’ resurrection. This is the week that changed all of human history. On that day, after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem Jesus goes to cleanse the temple. His famous words are thundered, “My house will be a house of prayer; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers’” (Luke 19:46). The final plot to have Jesus killed is put in motion in earnest as Jesus again creates havoc on the biggest money making week of the temple.
On Monday and Tuesday Jesus teaches in the temple courts where all can see him. On Wednesday he spends more time teaching his disciples. It was probably one of these days that Judas agrees to betray Jesus.
On Thursday he prepares to celebrate the Passover Feast with his disciples. The Feast that celebrates the Jewish exodus from Egypt and freedom from slavery. It is the most important event for the Jewish faith. The Passover Feast had been celebrated for many centuries over a thousand years with very few changes. That is until that night, when Jesus changes it to become our sacrament of Communion.
After they had sung some songs Jesus led them to the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, where he took time to pray to prepare himself for his torture, scourging, and crucifixion. This text is one of the most dramatic moments in scripture.
We read in the Gospels, especially in Luke about Jesus’ own prayer life. He not only taught the disciples how to pray, he modeled powerful and effective prayers. This is especially true of his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46). He prays, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup of death pass from me.” Luke tells us that the anguish Jesus experienced during this prayer was so stressful that he sweat blood. But then why not? He had prayerfully sought the will of God every step of his ministry. He knew what was coming, and it was going to be as horrible as any death devised by evil humanity. Even more, he was going to take on the sins of the world while he died. Before He left the garden He prayed, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
Think about that. He willingly went to die for all the Idolatry, Impurity, Adultery, Dishonesty, Pornography, Gluttony, Greed, Jealousy, Evil Speaking, Fornicating, Palm Reading, Fortune Telling, Coveting, Complaining, Unloving, Stealing, Gambling, Cursing, Materialism, Indebtedness, Unforgiveness, Drunkenness, Bitterness, Unkindness, Laziness, and Murder. The sad thing is that this is only a short list. I could go on and on! He died for every sin we can commit.
After His prayer He was ready to face the worst the Romans, the Jews, and satan would put upon Him. He endured the sham trial, scourging, torture, and finally crucifixion. It was 9:00 a.m. Friday when they hung Jesus on the cross. He died six hours later, slowly drowning as His body fluids filled His lungs.
And then on the glorious Sunday morning death was defeated for all time. Jesus is not dead. He is risen. He is risen to rule the world. He is the Lord and Savior of all!!!
Do you know what sins in your life Jesus died for? When was your greatest experience of suffering? How did you get through it? How important was your faith? Did you even think much about your faith while you were suffering? Do you rush too quickly to the celebration of resurrection without considering the pain, suffering, and death of life that Jesus is resurrecting you from? To fully appreciate the life giving, life changing power of Easter we must remember the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us. It is my great hope that this Holy Week and Easter will be the most meaningful of your life!
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