Together, with the “disciple Jesus loved,”
we will travel through Holy Week.
Jennifer stole my heart when filming “The Jesus Who Surprises” in Georgia last February. Jennifer was living near the church in subsidized housing. She came to the free monthly suppers the church offered and then heard about the pilot study for my upcoming book. She came, and Jesus met her.
Her one minute testimony (put together by Tim Mahoney) pierces my heart.
Walking with Jesus through Holy Week has the power to flood us with the depth of His love. Christianity is organic, in that the power comes not from us, but from Him, from abiding in the True Vine. (John 15:5)
Let’s press into this journey to the cross together, and expect to experience His love and power.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Can you identify with Jennifer’s testimony in any way? If so, how?
Throughout this week you will see the divided reaction to Jesus culminating. Before we look at Palm Sunday, I want to take a brief look at what happened the day before when Mary of Bethany, whose brother had just been raised from the dead, causes a stir by pouring perfume worth two years wages on Jesus.
3. Read John 12:1-8
A. Summarize what happened in verses 1-7.
B. Why do you think Mary did this?
C. Do you see any parallel with Jennifer? If so, what?
4. Read John 12:9-11
A. What was the reaction of the chief priests and why?
B. Think about an area where you struggle with sin. Now think about how this struggle could be overcome if you would truly believe a promise of God.
Monday: The Heart Has Its Reasons
There is much depth to this quote, and speculation about what Pascal meant, but most agree he definitely was saying that we often believe in God with the heart before we believe with our minds. That makes sense, since as Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (John 15:16) He has been wooing us from the very beginning of our lives. As children He woos us through nature, through wonder, before we begin to consider with our minds. I love how Lauren Winner put it in reflecting on the signs of His existence and love were there long before she put it all together:
Surely any idiot should have been able to see from the second chapter that it was Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with the rope.
In this song by Andrew Peterson, he looks back to his childhood, and sees how he was wooed. After watching and listening, comment.
5. What stands out to you from the above and why?
6. When you look back at your life, how do you see Jesus wooing you? (Give Him thanks!)
Returning to Pascal, this also helps me understand why without God removing the veil and wooing us, we wouldn’t believe, for we are not capable of it. First, we were like dead men, and dead men cannot do anything. God had to breath life into us.
It is also true that we have, in our sinfulness, a resistance to belief. After all, He asks us to give Him our whole lives, and if we do not trust Him, we want to hold on to the reins. If the heart does not want to believe, despite overwhelming evidence, it can influence the mind to distort the evidence. That is what I see in the chief priests when Lazarus was raised from the dead. Jesus was such a threat to them, that they were blind to the evidence right in front of their eyes. That is also what I see in the lives of some I dearly love.
Palm Sunday is interesting because many in the crowd that praised Him would turn and curse Him at the crucifixion. On Palm Sunday they saw Him as a King who would overcome their enemies and benefit them. Their hearts influenced their minds. They wanted to believe.
But on the following Good Friday, many changed their minds. This wasn’t the kind of king they wanted and those Hosannas turned to mockery. Again, their hearts influenced their heads.
7. Pray for your own heart and the hearts of those you love, that God might woo this week.
Tuesday: Your King is Coming Seated on a Donkey’s Colt
8. Read John 12:12-19
A. Palm branches, Darrel Bock points out, were symbols of nationalistic hope. The call “Hosanna” means “save please.” From what did they want to be saved?
B. This is not the horse of a victorious warrior that Jesus will ride at the second coming. How does Jesus riding a donkey serve as a metaphor for the kind of King He would be at this first coming?
C. When did they understand why Jesus rode a donkey according to John 12:16? What pieces do you think fell into place then?
9. Read John 12:20-33
A. Compare John 7:30 with John 12:23. What does this teach you?
B. Meditate on John 12:23-33 and share anything that becomes radioactive and why.
Wednesday: Do As I Have Done To You
Darrell Bock points out two significant points to John 13. First, there is Jesus intention: to show His own how deeply He loves them. Second, there is a cosmic battle.
10. Read John 13:1-5
A. How does John descript Jesus knowledge and intent in verse 1?
B. How do you see the cosmic battle in verse 2?
C. Put together verse 3 with the “so he got up and…” of verse 4. What do you see?
11. Read John 13:6-17
A. How does Peter respond and why?
B. What does Jesus tell him, and what is His meaning?
C. What is Jesus saying to each of us in verse 15?
D. How might you apply this specifically to your life and the people in your path this week?
Thursday: The High Priestly Prayer
May we understand the depth of Christ’s love for us through His prayer for us, and then, His sacrifice for us. Take off your shoes, for you are on holy ground.
A. What is the first thing Jesus asks and why, according to verses 20-21?
B. How could better live the above out in your life circumstances?
C. Look carefully at the end of verse 23. What do you see?
D. What does Jesus want for us according to verse 24?
E. What else stands out to you from this prayer and why?
Good Friday: I Am He
Tim Keller does such a powerful presentation of John 18. Please listen and share your notes and comments.
13. What stands out to you from the above and why?
14. Read John 19 and share anything that becomes radioactive and why.
15. What will you remember from this week? How might you apply it?