Holy Week – The journey has begun

Holy Week – The journey has begun

It is the week right before we celebrate Easter or Resurrection Sunday. During this time many churches pause to remember the suffering and death of Jesus through various traditions and worship services. 

The reason I chose to write this blog, is that it is easy to be so focused on the celebrations, the pageants and musicals etc. about the long awaited King on Palm Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, that we totally miss the suffering, humiliation and death that are all part of Holy Week.

In fact, when was the last time you spent the week reading about the events that took place prior to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection?

It is important that we place the hope of the Resurrection and the promise of new life, against the background of death. As you walk through the shadows and darkness of Holy Week and Good Friday, only then do you really grasp the horror and magnitude of sin and its consequences. Only then can you fully understand the light and hope of Sunday morning!

Riding a donkey Jesus began His journey to Jerusalem. Even in the midst of the praises of the crowds, He had His eye on the cross on which He would be crucified at the end of the week.

In the hope of fully grasping Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary and to embrace the hope that belongs to all believers as a result, each day we will look at the events which led up to the His death.

To make it easier to find each blog, I have added links below for each day of Holy Week.

Daily blog readings

Sunday – The Journey Begins

Monday – Jesus Destroys the Robbers Den

Tuesday – Looking for the Safe Answer

Wednesday – Extravagant Love

Thursday – The Third Cup, Redemption

Friday – The Darkest Dark

Sunday – He is Risen!

He is risen!

He is risen!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

As a young believer in a small “country church”, I was puzzled by the way the people greeted each other my first Easter as a Christian.

The atmosphere was pregnant with a sense of excitement that went beyond the sugar high of children who had spent the morning feasting on chocolate, jelly beans and marshmallow peeps.

Families began to gather in their Easter finery. Ladies wrapped in bright colors wearing millinery that rivaled the splendor of spring flowers dressed by their Maker. Gentlemen in freshly pressed shirts adorned with new ties. Children wearing their new Easter outfits accessorized with chocolate mustaches.

Suddenly the air gave birth to shouts of “He is risen!” and the reply shot back “He is risen indeed!”

What was this strange ritual that was taking place before my newborn eyes?

The Easter Greeting

For as long as anyone knows, perhaps as long as we have celebrated the resurrection, the Paschal or Easter greeting has been “Christ is risen!” And the reply that follows is “He is risen indeed!” This greeting, in a very simple way sums up the core of Christianity.

We quickly adopted the tradition and taught it to our children. It warms my heart to hear, my now adult children, greeting others in the same manner. But as I heard one of my teenage grandsons respond “He is risen indeed”, my heart was full.

I have to admit though, it seems like the greeting is on the decline. As we greeted others in recent years, some looked quizzically as if to say “What did she say?” Others said, “Yeah isn’t that cool?” But there were still a remnant who responded with excitement, almost a shout “He is risen indeed!”

Crucifixion and Resurrection

On Good Friday we remembered the crucifixion of Christ, and we all know the crucifixion is vital to our salvation. But, on Easter we celebrate His resurrection. In fact many call this day Resurrection Sunday.

Yes, when we say resurrection we really mean that Jesus was actually physically dead. He was in the grave Friday evening, all day Saturday, and even part of Sunday. He was actually physically raised from the dead –  His body became alive again!

But, why is that so important that it becomes the focus of the holiest day of the church calendar?

Even though leaders of other religions have died none can boast that they had been raised from the dead! That is what makes Christianity distinctly different from any other religion.

Why is the Resurrection such a big deal?

  • The resurrection is the proof that Christ’s sacrifice was enough.
  • It provides the power for us to live a life of surrender
  • It give assurance that we have access to the throne room of heaven.

The Resurrection means that we will also be raised from the dead.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

Now the phrase “first fruits” means there will be second fruits. Jesus was first, but in Him we will all also be made alive. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave! We have nothing to fear! Death, the last great enemy is defeated.

“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Since Christ was raised from the dead we know that

  • He was sinless.
  • His sacrifice was accepted.
  • our sins are forgiven.
  • there is no reason to fear death, we will be resurrected just as Christ was resurrected.

Some things to think about

This may sound like a change of subject, but stay with me. What is it that you are afraid of? What is it that worries you and keeps you awake at night?

If Jesus has given us victory over death, isn’t everything else we worry and fret over much less of a big deal?

Celebrate!

On Resurrection Sunday worship and celebrate the risen Lord! Each day rest in the fact that even death is conquered, so everything else is going to be ok. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow!

The Light of the world overcame even the darkest dark of Good Friday – giving us Hope for whatever today and every day holds!

Next year when you are greeted with “He is risen” shout out loud and proud “He is risen indeed!”

Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Hallelujah Amen.

 

Recommended Reading

  • Matthew 28
  • Mark 16
  • Luke 24
  • John 20, 21
  • 1 Corinthians 15
  • Romans 6
The Darkest Dark

The Darkest Dark

On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each believer tries to understand what it cost Jesus to win our redemption.

As I sit here on this Good Friday the oppression weighs heavy on my spirit. I love how my friend Alicia put it

The Grunt in my heart of hearts is the best expression of how I feel this “GOD” FRIDAY MORNING! There are NO WORDS-just deep Holy Spirit-led WORSHIP springing up from the depths of my being… HE DIED FOR SINS! MY SINS!

It is not a day of celebration but of mourning, both for the death of Jesus and for the sins of the world which His death represents.

The night before, Jesus had His last supper with His disciples, men who followed Him from the beginning of His ministry. They had listened to His teachings, saw Him healing and casting out demons.

Jesus came to radically change the world. He had been preparing His disciples for His death throughout His earthly ministry. But it was so beyond their comprehension that they couldn’t grasp it. Not yet, but in a few days, that would change.

Jesus’ last night

Jesus spent His last night with these men teaching them what they needed to know before He was gone. What is so fascinating to me is the last command that He gave them

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. – John 13:34

Why this command?

I’ve pondered this for many years. Why this command?

I’ve commented tongue in cheek (with a twist of truth) – “It’s because Jesus knew how hard it would be to deal with other believers. After all, ministry would be great if it weren’t for people.”

I believe I have had an epiphany – Perhaps He knew they already loved God with all their hearts, which they already demonstrated by leaving their previous lives, taking up their cross, and following Him.

So why this command? Love one another even as I have loved you.  Perhaps He knew that after He was gone life as they had known it was about to be radically different. Persecution, suffering, and pain lie ahead. They must be unified to stand firm and to carry out their God-given purpose.

I am beginning to think it was more than that.

I wonder if it had to do more with the new “rules”. Instead of the 613 laws of the previous religious institution of the Pharisees, Jesus said these are the most important – Love God and to Love people (Matthew 22:34-39).

Love one another – Perhaps it was the last command because it would help them keep focused on what they were called to do.

Sorry, I got a little distracted, so let’s move on.

Friday

It is Friday morning and Jesus has been transferred from the Jewish to the Roman authorities.

We aren’t going to look at all the events of Friday but I wanted you to see them and encourage you to read about them so you can see in the Word the gravity of the day.

  • Jesus’ sentencing by the Jews (Matthew 27:1-2)
  • Judas’ death (Matthew 27:3-10)
  • Jesus’ sentencing by the Romans (Matthew 27:11-26)
  • The mocking of the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31)
  • Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-44)
  • Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:45-56)
  • Jesus’ burial (Matthew 27:57-61)
  • The guard placed at the tomb (Matthew 27:62-64)

Jesus stands before the Jews

Judas led the temple guards to the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  After His arrest, the temple guards took Jesus to Annas, a former High Priest, and father-in-law of the current High Priest, Caiaphas (John 18). After questioning Jesus, Annas sent Him to Caiaphas, the High Priest. There Jesus was questioned, condemned by false witnesses, spit upon, and viciously beaten.

Jesus brought to Pontius Pilate

Early Friday morning, the religious leaders of Israel officially declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy. Because Jerusalem was under Roman law, the Jews did not have the right to execute capital offenders (John 18:31). The Jewish leaders bring Jesus before the Roman governor, Pilate, and demand Jesus’s execution.

Judas has an apparent change of heart. He is “seized with remorse”. Judas does acknowledge his sin and Jesus’ innocence, but he does not demonstrate the mark of genuine repentance. (more about what true repentance looks like in another blog)

Judas confesses and tries to return the money the Jewish leaders paid him, but they aren’t interested. Responding in anger, he throws the money on the floor and goes out and kills himself.

Pilate’s only concern is whether or not Jesus has broken Roman law.

He asks Jesus “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus responds simply, “It is as you say.” While being accused by the Jewish leaders, He did not answer. Then Pilate questions Him and He does not answer even one single charge and Pilate was amazed. Pilate proclaims there is no basis for sentencing and he refers Jesus to King Herod who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus and receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate.

Pilate’s wife has a dream and warns him to “have nothing to do with this righteous man.” Pilate realizes Jesus is innocent but, the Jewish leaders demand crucifixion. At Passover, Pilate often would release one criminal as a sign of goodwill to the Jewish people. He offered the crowd Jesus or the murderer Barabbas. The murderer was set free, and the innocent man was murdered. Jesus died in Barabbas’ place.

Pilate washes his own hands as a sign he has no part in this condemnation. However, in order to prevent a riot and ultimately to keep his job, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified. Jesus is stripped, beaten with whips, mocked, and beaten again. 

Jesus’ death

Jesus carries His cross to the site of the execution. Finally, at about 9:00 am, Jesus is nailed to a cross and crucified along with two criminals. Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth. He was mocked by the crowds and insulted by the religious leaders. Pilate has Jesus’ crime posted on the cross, above Christ’s head, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Jesus agonized on the cross and then, at noon, the sun stopped shining. And until 3:00, the Light of the world hung in darkness.

At about 3:00, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and died. The veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, and the centurion cried out, “This man really was the son of God.”

Pilate requested confirmation from the centurion that Jesus was dead, a soldier pierced the side of Jesus causing blood and water to flow out. The centurion informed Pilate that Jesus was dead.

Jesus’ burial

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and a secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to His condemnation, requests the body from Pilate. He and Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus in a clean linen shroud and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved out of a rock in a garden near the site of the crucifixion. They rolled a large rock over the entrance to the tomb. Then they returned home and rested because the Sabbath had begun at sunset.

The Darkest Dark

It was the “darkest dark” of all eternity. The spiritual darkness was even worse than the physical night. The one who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. As one old preacher said, “It was such a horrible sight, the sun refused to shine, and the Son hung between heaven and earth in darkness.”

It was not only physically dark but spiritually dark. I wonder if anyone really noticed?

Although Friday is a solemn time, it is not without its own joy. For while it is important to place the Resurrection against the darkness of Good Friday, the gravity of Good Friday should always be seen with the hope of Resurrection Sunday.

Something to think about

On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’s death in our place. Like Barabbas, we deserved death, but we were set free while the innocent man was crucified. 
Friday was a dark and desperate day. The King of Glory died at the hands of sinners. But “It’s only Friday, Sunday’s coming!” We must always see the gravity of Good Friday in the hope of Resurrection Sunday.

Jesus died for you

God made Him, who did not know sin, to become sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (from 2 Cor 5:21, John 3:16, Romans 5:8)

This means nothing you can do will make Him love you anymore, and nothing you can do will make Him love you any less!
It is always darkest before the light shines through and hope explodes on the horizon!

Recommended Reading

Matthew 27:1-66
Mark 15:16-16:19
Luke 23:26-24:35
John 19:16-20:30

 photo credit

In case you have missed the previous blogs, I’ve included their links below. It is not too late to read them and meditate on the events of Holy Week prior to and including Christ’s journey.

The Third Cup – Redemption

The Third Cup – Redemption

Jesus and His disciples have made the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. People were being healed, demons were being cast out, miracles were happening and many believed. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was marked by crowds shouting “Hosanna” and the waving of palm branches.

But as the week progressed there was a growing darkness as the crowds began to withdraw from Him. There was an ominous tone in the murmuring of the religious leaders who were threatened by Jesus’ teachings.

As Jesus and His disciples shared this last supper together they already stood in the shadow of the cross.

Later that night, after the meal, as Jesus and His disciples were in the Garden of Gethsemane praying, Jesus was arrested and taken to Caiaphas the High Priest. On Friday He would die.

 

Maundy Thursday

You might be wondering what Maundy Thursday is. It is the beginning of the three day celebration of Easter – The Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. It is the holiest time of the year for the Christian Church. Maundy Thursday commemorates the last supper Jesus had with His disciples. During the Last Supper Jesus redefined Passover, and that is the reason we celebrate the Resurrection instead.

Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum which is usually translated commandment. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to serve as an example of humility and a servant’s heart. After the meal, as they walked into the night toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught his disciples a “new” commandment that was not really new. (John 13:34-35)

It’s Thursday, the evening before Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus meets with His disciples for a last meal together, a last supper. It is Passover and Jerusalem is full of pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem for the celebration.

Jesus is spending His last hours with the men He had discipled. His teachings and illustrations are some of the most radical and amazing in all of the Bible. Five chapters of John’s gospel are the teachings from that evening. (John 13-17)

 

On His very last evening on earth Jesus, the Creator, washed the feet of the disciples, His creation.

 

Passover

The Passover, the reminder that it was God who set them free from slavery, embraced it’s full meaning that evening when the Lamb of God, who would in a few hours take away the sins of the world, helped the disciples see it in a fresh new way.

The Passover was deeply embedded in the Jewish consciousness.  The traditions and the regulations had been passed down from generation to generation for almost 1500 years.

In that one night Jesus redefined what it meant in a way that radically altered history.

The Passover Meal

The Passover meal included

  • unleavened bread, bread baked without yeast. It reminded them of the haste of the exodus, when there was no time to let the bread rise. And often in the Bible leaven represents sin.  Jesus took a piece of the bread and broke it in half to pass around the table as men had done for generations but this time He said “take and eat, for this is My body”. The bread with no leaven represented the man with no sin.
  • four cups of wine, each with a name taken from God’s promise to Moses in Exodus 6:6-8. The third cup is served immediately after the meal when the prayer of thanksgiving was offered.

 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;  for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:27–28

The name of the third cup? The cup of redemption.

Jesus’ blood redeems us from the slavery of sin. It was clear, they were sitting with the Lamb of God who would in a few hours shed His own blood to set men free from slavery to sin.

 

Why the church doesn’t keep Passover

In a recent conversation someone asked why the church today doesn’t celebrate/keep Passover.

  • First, Christ is the fulfillment of the Passover, He is our Passover. When we celebrate communion we are remembering the freedom from sin provided by the Lamb of God.
  • Second, every time we celebrate communion we are celebrating the Passover. Jesus changed the way we celebrate, and He added eternal value to the reason we celebrate. Every communion service is a Passover remembered.

During the Last Supper Jesus redefined Passover, and that is the reason we celebrate the Resurrection instead.

As the disciples made their way to the Garden on the western side of the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane the teaching continued. However, I chose to focus on this particular event – the event that radically changed history.

 

Something to think about

On Maundy Thursday Jesus explained Passover in a way the disciples had never seen it. Passover redefined, was all about the real Lamb of God whose blood was not just applied to a door post, but to the hearts of sinners.  His blood cleanses us from all sin and sets us free. Wow!

 

Other events of the evening

There are several events that occur on this last day before Jesus was arrested. 

The Last Supper (The Passover Meal)

The Institution of Communion

Jesus Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane while the disciples fell asleep

The Betrayal of Judas

This is the day that Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with the disciples, four days after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Only hours after the Last Supper, Judas would betray Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, setting the stage for Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday.

After Judas left the room, Jesus instituted something new, the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-24). He took two elements from the Passover Feast, the unleavened bread and the cup, and used them as a visual aide to picture His death which would bring forgiveness of sins.

  • The broken bread was a picture of His body given for the sins of the world.
  • The cup of wine pictured His blood which was shed for the remission of sins.

The Lord’s Supper reminds us to look ahead for Christ’s return. We will observe this supper until He comes.     (1 Corinthians 11:26)

The Passover pointed ahead to the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) The Lord’s Supper announces that this work has been accomplished.

Later that evening Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, there Jesus surrendered His will to God’s will. We see such a clear picture here of both his deity and humanity. It was here that the victory was won.

As Jesus was agonizing in prayer His disciples were sleeping. He woke them up with the news that His betrayer was coming and they must go to meet him.

 

Readings for the day

Matthew 26:17-46

Luke 22:7-38

John 13:21-38

Mark 14:17-31

Zechariah 13:7

 

Questions to ask yourself

 Have you been set free?

Have you ever totally surrendered your life to Christ, and bowed before the one who died for you?

In case you have missed the previous blogs, I’ve included their links below. It is not too late to read them and meditate on the events of Holy Week prior to and including Christ’s journey.

 

Extravagant Love

Extravagant Love

Wednesday of Jesus’ Journey

It was probably Wednesday when Jesus had just finished His conversation with the disciples on the Mt of Olives, (known as the Olivet Discourse). He reminded the disciples that the Passover feast was only two days away and that He would be handed over to be crucified. (Matthew 26:1-2) This was not the first conversation He had with them about this, but they still hadn’t really grasped what that meant.

Up to this point Jesus had told His disciples He would be handed over to the Gentiles and be killed but had not used the word crucifixion until now. He was very clear there as He spoke to them, there could be no doubt as to His meaning. His death was only two days away.

About the same time only a few miles away, the chief priest and elders had gathered in the court of the high priest, Caiaphas, and were plotting to sneak up on Jesus and kill Him. However, they didn’t want to do it during the festival  because they were afraid that it might cause a riot among the people. (Matthew 26:3-5) Perhaps the memory of the crowds shouting “Hosanna” and waving palm branches was still on their minds.

There they were scheming to kill both He (Jesus) who raised men from the dead, and he (Lazarus) who was raised from the dead. (John 12:1-11Matthew 26:3-5)

It is really hard to miss the irony here. It appears as though they had no tolerance for men who were raised from the dead or for the Savior who raised them dead.

 

The Alabaster Vial

Jesus was in Bethany eating dinner at Simon the Leper’s house when Mary, Lazarus’ sister, approached Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume. She poured it on His head. (John 12:3-8, Matthew 26:6-13Mark 14:3-9).  (Only John calls her by name.)extravagant love,alabaster jar,kay arthur,precept ministriesDespite discussion over whether or not there were two similar incidents or one the meaning was clear – The King was anointed for His coronation!

What is so significant about the anointing?

In Jewish tradition the kings were anointed to indicate they were the chosen one. For example:

  • David was anointed by Samuel to be the new king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:13).
  • The words “Messiah” and “Christ” both mean anointed. Jesus the anointed One, was the chosen One, the King of Glory.

As Jesus lay reclining at the dinner table, the woman entered and in an act of impulsive love, she broke a bottle of very expensive perfume and poured it over our Lord’s head and his feet.

As if that had not been loving enough, she began to wipe his feet with her hair. The woman’s hair was her glory (1 Corinthians 11:15) and she laid her glory literally at the feet of the King of glory!

When was the last time your love of Christ was seen in your impulsive generosity?

 

Anointed for His Rise to Glory!

Some of the disciples were incensed. This was too extravagant! But, Jesus reminded them she had anointed him for His burial. Jesus’ death was on the horizon. The leaders were plotting His demise and this one forgiven sinner was anointing Him for His rise to glory.

Only a few days later Jesus hung on a cross and over His head in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek stood the placard Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews (John19:19). The anointed king, crucified for the sins of the people.

This one forgiven sinner in an impulsive act of extravagant generosity anointed the King of Glory for His coronation day. That is Extravagant Love!

And later that evening one unrepentant sinner (Judas) went to the chief priests and sold the King for the price of a slave, 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16)

The King of Glory was crucified for the sins of His people, buried, and raised to ascend back to His rightful place in heaven. And maybe, just maybe the aroma of the anointing oil still fills the rooms of heaven.

 

Something to think about

  • Have you bowed and left your glory lying at the feet of the King of Glory?
  • Is your love extravagant?

Recommended Scripture Reading

John 12:1-8

Matthew 16:21-23

Mark 14:10-11

Luke 22:3-6

photo credit

Looking for the Safe Answer

Looking for the Safe Answer

Sunday the crowds were going crazy waving their palm branches and laying their coats in the road as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, riding a donkey, just like the prophets said. Their streets were alive with cries of

“Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD” (Mark 11:9–10)        

But, on Friday they would scream “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15: 12-14)

What happened between the cheers of the crowd and the cross?

Monday an angry Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple. They had a good thing going and were not happy when their meal train came to a stop! However their business was interfering with those Gentiles who came to the Temple seeking the One True God! Jesus would not tolerate that.

Tuesday was a busy day. Matthew dedicated four full chapters and part of two others. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John also devote a lot of time to the events of Tuesday.

Since this is a blog and not a book I want to simply focus on the early events that set the context for the rest of the stories of that day.

As Jesus walked back into the Temple area He found the religious leaders waiting for Him!

The chief priests, scribes, and the elders were demanding to know by what authority He acted and taught as He did! (Mark 11:27-28, Matthew 21:23). Translated that means, “What gives You the right to interfere with our business?”

Why did they ask that question now?

The priests, scribes, and elders were the religious leaders of Jesus day. They were the “Spiritual Formations” Team of their time. It was their duty. The Sanhedrin, the ruling religious body, even had teams who would go out and investigate every popular teacher or rabbi to make sure their teaching was appropriate and to challenge any messianic type claims. And there were a lot of men claiming “to be somebody” in that day as the Pharisee Gamaliel noted (Acts 5:33-39)

Because of their responsibility to oversee the things being taught, their question was legitimate. Well at least on the surface.

The Pharisees and scribes had been following Jesus’ ministry since it began. They had already studied Him. They objected when He forgave sins, and were furious when He healed on the Sabbath. They knew His authority and His power. So our question is, why did they decide to ask this question now?

Perhaps they were feeling threatened as they saw and heard the reaction of the crowds on Sunday.

To be perfectly honest, it was probably Jesus’ outburst of anger and the authority He demonstrated as He drove the money changers out of the Temple area. That display by Jesus hurt them deeply, in their pocket book!

How does Jesus answer their question?

Honestly they had their answers. For the last three years they have followed Jesus’ ministry – they knew the answer to their question. The problem was not a lack of knowledge, it was much deeper.

And Jesus said to them, I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me. (Mark 11:29–30)

It’s seems like an odd answer, even evasive. But, it’s not. Jesus was asking a very straight question of the leaders, and it was one they refused to answer!

The Jewish leaders were looking for a safe answer

They reasoned among themselves to try to find the safe answer.

• If we say the baptism of John was from God then He will ask us why we didn’t believe him.
• If we say it was from men then the people might stone us because they think John was a prophet. Hmm…

What is the safest answer? Their safe answer was “We do not know”

In the words of Warren Wiersbe “The Jewish leaders were caught in a dilemma of their own making. They were not asking “What is true?” or “What is right?” but “What is safe?” This is always the approach of the hypocrite and the crowd-pleaser.” (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 151). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)

In the crisis of the moment they wanted to be safe!

That appeals to many of us. Safety is always a great concern for most of us, however

  • John the Baptist never played it safe. “You brood of vipers” he said to the Pharisees and Sadducees when they came testing the waters.
  • Jesus never played it safe either. He formed a one man revival team and drove the riff raff out of the Temple area. Knowing that death by crucifixion was only a few days away Jesus walked right into their back yard and declared the truth of God.

With His next breath Jesus tells them a thinly veiled the parable of a man who owns a vineyard and rents it to vine growers. When he sent his servants to collect the rent, they beat, shamed, and even killed the servants. Finally he sent his son. The vine growers killed the son and threw him out of the vineyard.

And the chief priests, scribes, and elders knew He was talking about them. That is not safe. But, then again,      perhaps it is right and true. Jesus came to die, so safety was not really the issue.

Have you been playing it safe?

When was the last time “playing it safe” kept you from bold obedience to Christ? How often have you traded safety for obedience?

Too many times I have not shared the gospel because it just seemed awkward (unsafe) at that moment.

Or how many times have you chosen not to be involved in things around you or in people’s lives who needed help, because

“This is just not a good time”
“If I say anything it won’t make a difference anyway”

Don’t those sound like a good and safe answers?

Something to think about

  • John the Baptist never played it safe. He spoke the truth, without compromise.
  • Jesus never played it safe. He walked into the vineyard and confronted the vine growers who had beaten, shamed, and killed the owner’s servants. He walked in knowing that they would also kill the son.
  • Your God is not safe. He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. And He sent His Son to die. And that is the point of Easter or Resurrection Sunday!

This is just one of Tuesday’s stories but it carries a heavy punch!

So that you don’t miss out on the events of Jesus’ journey to the cross I recommend you read the Scriptures listed below.

Scripture Reading

  • Matthew 21:20–26:5
  • Mark 11:19-14:2
  • Luke 20-21

Have you been playing it safe?  I would love to know what your plan is for not playing safe in the future. You can start the conversation by writing in the comment box below.

I am looking forward to tomorrow as we move forward in the journey.

Pin It on Pinterest