For those of you that are unaware, yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week with Palm Sunday. “Holy Week” stretches over Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Passover, and then Easter Sunday. So many events happened during this week in the Old and New Testaments. It was a hard week for Jesus and the world. But a week that was still full of miracles, Jesus’s love and kindness, and beautiful lessons and reminders for us to take with us every single day. If you’re looking for something to reflect on this week—look no further. Let’s dig into the Word together and remind ourselves why this week is so important and so precious.
Jesus arrives into Jerusalem where He chose a colt to ride into town—a baby, innocent and pure. As He rode in, people knew that the Lord had arrived. They placed their cloaks and palm branches down so that not even the donkey Jesus was riding needed to place its hooves on the dirt.
Matthew 21:9, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
The In Between
Many events took place during this time. Jesus got angry, Jesus served those who had served Him, and Jesus spoke so much life and healing into the people of Jerusalem and His disciples—words that still resonant today.
Jesus reminds us time and time again of our need to love others and for God’s love for us. Part of me can’t help but think that as He was preparing to sacrifice His life for us, He was forcing Himself to think these things over and over again and remember who it’s for.
1 John 4:7-10, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
John 13:1, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
John 13:3, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God.”
A story I often have to remind myself of is the story in which Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. If you’re like me and you hate feet… I’m sorry. Think of this story as washing calves or something that’s less gross for you. But the real point of this story is this—Jesus, our Savior, master, and teacher got down on His knees to serve his students and “servants.” Not even Jesus is too good to serve others. In that same way, neither are we. I often forget about the rest of the world because I am so worried about my own distractions and the little things I need to get done. I forget to take a step back and serve others. Jesus was days away from His death (and He knew it) and He made sure that His last days would be spent serving others rather than others serving Him.
John 13:14, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should do as I have done for you.”
The First Communion happened the day before Jesus was taken away. We say the prayer, we take the wine (or grape juice) and bread (or crackers) and we remember the sacrifice. Even if you are unable to take communion—pause this week. Remember the blood and body that was broken and sacrificed for us.
1 Corinthians 11:24-26, “and when He had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
Matthew 26:39 says, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” This prayer holds so much weight with me. I’ve recently written an entire blog post just about this one sentence and this one moment. For just a minute we remember that Jesus was a man. He was scared out of His mind, and the only thing He knew to do was pray. He asked His friends to do the same, but they kept falling asleep. That’s when Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
And guess what? It still is. It’s a whole lot easier for us to do the things that aren’t good for us. It’s a lot easier to just go to that party, to spread those rumors, to sleep with someone who isn’t your spouse. Our flesh is weak and broken and falls to prey so easily. But our spirit wants us to follow Jesus and the life He has called. Listen to your spirit more and your flesh less. It would have been so much easier for Jesus to walk away and not face such a brutal and horrifying death. But then what? We wouldn’t live with the freedom and blessings we feel each and every day. We would be just like God’s followers in the Old Testament—lost and distant.
46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
For a moment, Jesus no longer felt God. For the first time in His life, God was absent from Him. And just like that, Jesus finally understood every emotion we could ever feel. We have all felt moments where God wasn’t with us. We have all felt fear, anxiety, worry. We have all wanted to run away, unwilling to face reality. But Jesus turned and He faced it, and the world was torn.
I want to stop here. Yes, Jesus rose and His sacrifice surrounds us and overwhelms us with love each and every day. But I write about the beauty of our relationship with Him in practically every devotional I write. So in this post, during Holy Week, I want to sit with you and mourn. Mourn the loss of our Savior. Think of Jesus as He fights off Hell and the Devil so that we can earn a chance to be with Him in Heaven. This week, let’s think about the sacrifice and the hard stuff. Let’s remember that our life is not our own and He truly gave and gave so that we could live not just a wonderful afterlife, but a wonderful earthly life, serving and loving Him.