Holy Week: Friday

DEATH…

Innocent people are not supposed to receive the death penalty. There is something about an innocent person being unfairly punished that infuriates the sense of right within us. And, when the punishment is death it makes us want to scream “Foul!” One of the first questions we ask is “Why God? How could you let this happen? Why would you let an innocent person be put to death?” It gets worse in the case of Jesus. Even God turns his face from the injustice and allows the One whom he calls “my beloved son” to be crucified. Why?


SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 27:41-50


WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?

Alone amidst the mocking onlookers and separated from the Father the King of Israel hangs on a cross. Darkness fell to set the mood for the death of the Innocent One. In a parched voice Jesus speaks one sentence from the depths of his innocence and despair, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the onlookers are moved to pity and some are morbidly curious, but none of them could imagine the answer to the question, “Why?”


CHILDREN’S PRAYER: “Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Thank you for being punished for my sin.”

ADULT’S PRAYER: “Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Thank you for being punished for my sin.”

Holy Week: Thursday

REJECTION…

Part of being human is the need to be wanted, so few things wound us more deeply than being rejected. The experience of being rejected by others is often more than we can bear, the pain of it leads to isolation, anger, and despair. So, it is hard to imagine how Jesus felt as he watched and listened as his disciples deserted him and as the crowds that cheered his arrival in Jerusalem just a few days earlier shouted their angry disapproval. The One who longed to “gather the children of Jerusalem as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” is cast aside without mercy by the very people he came to save.


SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 27:15-26


AN ANGRY MOB…

Even Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but he couldn’t bring himself to stand up to the crowd that was determined to vent their animosity toward Jesus. And so the Innocent One stood there beaten and bleeding; his ears ringing with the screams of the crowd… “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Worse than the pain of the blows and the humiliation of the spit and the thorns is the pain of being rejected by the people you love the most. “Hail, King of the Jews!” and they spit on him…   


CHILDREN’S PRAYER: “Jesus, I am sorry you felt so alone and unwanted. Help me love you. Help me follow you well.”

ADULT’S PRAYER: “Jesus please help me remember what my sin caused you to endure. Help me remember that you endured far more than just physical pain. Help me draw close to you as your child and to follow you as your disciple.”

Holy Week: Wednesday

BETRAYAL…

Nothing is more painful that being betrayed by someone you love. To betray someone is to abuse their love; it is to use their love to profit personally at their expense. To betray someone is to despise the one who loves you. Jesus experienced betrayal. Judas betrayed him. (Matthew 26:14-16) Peter betrayed him. (Matthew 26:69-75) The nation he came to save betrayed him. (Matthew 27:21-23) The Suffering Servant experienced pain beyond the beatings and the thorns, he endured the heart crushing would of being hated by those who said they loved him.


SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 27:39-44


THE BETRAYERS…

The comments made by those who watched Jesus suffer reveal the hearts of the betrayers. They said they wanted a King but when Jesus threatened their personal comfort and power they turned on him. When they thought Jesus’ miraculous power meant personal wealth and prosperity for them they cheered his coming. But, when it became clear that Jesus would not make them wealthy earthly rulers they “derided him and wagged their heads.” As you reflect on Jesus’ sufferings this week ask yourself this question: when am I among the betrayers?


CHILDREN’S PRAYER: “Jesus, forgive me when I betray you. Forgive me when I am selfish.”

ADULT’S PRAYER: “Jesus, please forgive me when I am selfish. Forgive me when I love what I want from you more than I love you. Forgive me when I say “I love you” but behave like I don’t believe in you.”

Holy Week: Tuesday

SUFFERING…

The very first instance of the gospel recorded in the Bible connects suffering to salvation. In Genesis 3:15 as God curses the serpent he promises a deliverer who will suffer, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  The “bruised heel” is a promise of a suffering redeemer. The prophet Isaiah looks forward to a deliverer who is a sufferer, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53) Jesus made it clear to his disciples he was the One appointed to suffer: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21)


SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 27:27-30


THE SUFFERER…

Peter’s reaction to Jesus in Matthew 16 perfectly captures what everyone was thinking: the Savior would be a conqueror, not a sufferer. Peter didn’t understand because he, like us, didn’t understand (or didn’t want to understand) that suffering is part of God’s salvation process. But, the history of Israel teaches us, and the Scriptures are clear:   “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Jesus endured beatings, ridicule, spit and thorns. He suffered because suffering is a promised part of God’s salvation plan.    


CHILDREN’S PRAYER: “Jesus, thank You for suffering for me. Thank you for being punished for my sin.”

ADULT’S PRAYER: “Jesus, thank You for suffering for me. Thank you for being punished for my sin. Please help me always remember that my sinfulness is the cause for your suffering. Give me eyes to see how desperately sinful I am so that I can see how deeply you love me.”

Holy Week: Monday

DARKNESS…

There is no shortage of bad news in the world. From earthquakes and plane crashes to terrorists and human trafficking, one cannot escape the reality that God’s good creation has been corrupted. On this Monday of Holy Week, spend some time reflecting on the darkness in the world. As you do, consider the words of Jesus in John 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” As you reflect, think about what Jesus said: God sent his own Son into the world to bring light, but men loved darkness. Our love for darkness would eventually condemn the Light of the World to death on a cross.


SCRIPTURE READING: Romans 1:21-23, Ephesians 4:17-19


HARD HEARTS…

God says the world is in darkness because people exchanged the truth of His power and sovereignty for the self-serving lie that people are in control. People exchanged God’s glory for idols, images of animals to “worship” in the belief that gods should serve man. The world is in darkness because men’s hearts are dark and hardened against God. It is a painful reality that the root of life’s most distressing and contemptible problems are found deep inside the human heart. Ask God to reveal to you how your life and your choices contribute to a dark world.


CHILDREN’S PRAYER: “Jesus, help me to believe in You and to honor you by trusting you and believing what you say.” 

ADULT’S PRAYER: “Father you are always faithful and true. Thank you for your faithfulness. Forgive us when we are unfaithful, forgive us when we contribute to the darkness in our world. Help us trust your promises and place our hope in you.”

Holy Week: Sunday

WHAT DID JESUS DO ON (PALM) SUNDAY?

Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, with great fanfare. Matthew describes Jesus’ entry like this:

They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!” - 
Matthew 21:7-10


Luke adds these details:

As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” - Luke 19:37-44


John tells us that some Greeks were seeking Jesus. In response to their inquiries, Jesus explains that he is going to die.

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. - John 12:20-36


Finally, Mark tells us Jesus entered and looked around in the temple before going to spend the evening with the twelve.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. - Mark 11:11


QUESTIONS TO PONDER

  • Why do you think Jesus made a point to enter the temple? What do you think he wanted to see?
  • What do you think Jesus was thinking as he walked around the temple knowing he was about to be killed?
  • How is Jesus’ death related to the purpose and function of the temple?