If there is one thing that we should have learned from the Reformers and Puritans during our time together this Lent, it’s that Jesus does not move away from us when we are broken or sinning, but toward us, the way a father moves toward his child with a loathsome disease or toward his child playing with matches. His love is so great He never abandons His child. It is we who back away from Him, doubting His love and His plans. If anything should show us His love, it is this week.
The whole reason He left His Father and paradise was to get us!
We are the joy set before Him.
We are why He set His face like flint as He faced the cross.
Let us together drawn near to Him in this holiest of weeks, and see how He demonstrated who He was and why He came each day of .the week.
Holy Week goes from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday. We’ll walk together through these days. There is a lot of homework, so I’m giving you two weeks to do it, for Good Friday alone can take a week. I will send you a sermon to listen to on Easter Sunday next week — but no more homework.
I want to credit Paige Benton Brown’s lecture for much of what I’m sharing this week. She called this Holy Week:
The W E E K that changed the W O R L D
I also want to credit the book she recommended which is so excellent:
The Final Days Of Jesus
Let’s start with a four minute video from The Gospel Coalition on the history of Holy Week.
I loved how Paige began, saying that this last week is “THE POINT!” Everything in Scripture led up to this, and everything after grows out of it. Jesus’s whole life has been surprising, but now, in this last week, it crescendos!
Sermon for Holy Week from Tim Keller on the crucifixion. Listen any time and share your thoughts. (Optional)
Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem. This pilgrimage was planned in the counsels of eternity.
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- What was surprising about Jesus’ life before this last week? Share several things.
- In John 12:12-15, what was surprising about Jesus’ entrance? How did the crowd address Him?
- What did the chief priests say in John 19:15? Do you think some of the people who were waving palm branches on Sunday felt the same? If so, why?
- 5. One day people wave palm branches again, but this time they will know who Jesus really is. Find it in Revelation 7:9-10.
Monday: Cleansing of the Temple, Cursing of Fig Tree
The Temple was meant to be a place where people could come and be with God, could worship God. But it had been completely corrupted. I thought The Chosen Pilot Episode “The Shepherd” caught this beautifully. A crippled shepherd makes his way slowly to Bethlehem, only to be turned away from the Temple because he was dirty, broken, and poor. (You can see this short movie on You-Tube)
Now it is Monday, and Jesus heads straight to the Temple, coming like a Lion.
6. Read John 2:13-17 (Challenge questions!)
6. Only John tells us that “he made the whip.” What does this tell you, and why do you think John wants you to know this?
7. Read Matthew’s account in Matthew 21:12-17
A. How does Jesus explain His actions?
B. Contrast the response of the chief priests and teachers of the law with the blind, the lame, and the children. Why, do you think?
C. If you saw Paige’s lecture, what six groups of people did Jesus continually reach out to?
8. Read Matthew 21:18-19
A. This is Jesus’ only negative miracle. Put yourselves in the place of the disciples and imagine how you would feel upon seeing this!
B. Why did He do this and why does this naturally go along with the cleansing of the Temple?
C. How do these acts show Jesus was, as Isaiah prophesied, “setting his face like flint” to die for us?
D. How does this negative miracle speak to you?
Tuesday: Parables for the Pharisees and Teachers
I honestly never realized before Paige’s lecture that half of all the gospels are dedicated to the last week of Jesus’ life. That’s because they often aren’t recording things chronologically. John has the cleansing of the Temple in chapter 2! But so many of his parables were spoken during this holy week. As Paige said, “Though we bristle at those who try to make Jesus just a teacher or a prophet, He was a greater teacher and a prophet, yet also God, the second person of the Trinity. Today we’ll take just one parable that He spoke to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Even though it made them angry, as pointedly was about them, as Paige said, it was still a last invite into the kingdom.
9. Read Luke 14:15-24.
A. Summarize this parable.
B. What is the main point?
C. What groups are told to be brought in when the other refuse. Comment
D. I laughed when Paige said, “It’s kinda like ‘I gotta wash my hair.'” The reasons we have or others have for refusing Christ seem so paltry in light of what is being offered. Pray here for people you love who have still refused the invite. May this Holy Week open their eyes!
10. After the parable of The Sheep in the Goats in Matthew 25, what did the chief priests decide to do? (Matthew 26:1-5?)
Wednesday: Parables for the Disciples & Us!
The other half of the parables are directed to the disciples with the message: Be ready for my return!
11. Take one of the parables from Matthew 25 and share the main point on what we should be doing until He returns.
12. How can you actively apply this to your life?
13. Did you know where Jesus kept going to sleep at night? Bethany! This added so much light for me on why Mary knew He was going to die. Mark tells us this happened two days before Passover, and Luke says six days. (This apparent contradiction has been explained in various ways — one is that He was there many nights that Holy Week – and once, while He was there, this happened.) Read Mark 14:1-10 and see if this knowledge shows you anything fresh. It is from this that Judas went to the chief priests.
Thursday: Last Supper and Gethsemane
14. What Old Testament even did the Passover celebrate (Ex. 12:7) and what was the significance of this for the timing of Jesus’ death? In what ways was this the “last supper?”
15. From the beginning Christians have held to Jesus’ command to celebrate the Lord’s supper. According to 1 Corin. 11:26 what even does this look back to and what event does it look forward to? How should this impact us during communion?
16. Just as the parables that Jesus spoke during his last week to his disciples were all about how they should be ready for His return, so John alone records something that happened at the last supper that taught how we should be living until His return. Read John 13:1-17
A. What stands out to you upon the reading and why?
B. What lesson about the forgiveness of sins does Jesus teach through Peter’s misunderstanding of the foot washing?
C. What broader lesson about sacrificial servant leadership did Jesus communicate through his humiliating symbolic action?
John alone records Jesus’ farewell discourse in John 14-17. We won’t go into it here, but some of you may want to meditate on it on Good Friday, for important things are said when time is running out. If you do, feel free to share on this blog.
17. Read Luke 22:39-46
A. What stands out to you upon this reading and why?
B. What does Jesus’ need of human support and companionship during his darkest hour teach us about his humanity? Do you think that Jesus’ humanity is often eclipsed by discussions of his divinity?
C. Why was this crucifixion like no other — what was Jesus facing that no other person will ever face? Why did He choose to go through with it?
Jesus was asking the Father if there was a way for the “cup of His wrath” to pass from Him. Paige imagined God saying, “You don’t have to do this — but if you want Paige (imagine your name here) there is no other way.”
Some of you asked to hear the message I gave on Easter. This is my practice session early Easter morning. I say “YAY” at the end because my goal was to keep it at 17 minutes! Two videos were part of it: Sally’s Aslan and a Wonderful You-tube video of Fellowship Group doing Is He Worthy?
Paige explained that the trials were so crazy because they were passing Jesus back and forth to get two different kinds of evidence. The Romans had to find charges against Him that He was planning a revolt against Caesar, and the Jews had to find charges against Him that He was blaspheming.
18. The betrayal and arrest occurred right after Gethsemane, sometime after midnight, so it was Friday. Read John 18:1-14
A. What stands out to you upon the first reading and why?
B. Who comes into the garden and what is the significance of how Jesus identifies Himself? (It is like the great I AM) What happens to the soldiers when He says this?
19. First Trial: High Priest Annas (Religious authorities)
A. There are man ironical and significant statements that happen during Good Friday showing who Jesus is and why He came. Find one in John 18:14 from Anna’s son-in-law Caiaphas.
He is struck, supposedly for blasphemy, for indeed, they did already know who He claimed to be. Now Annas passes him off to his son-in-law.
B. Who do you see as being in charge here?
20. Second More Formal Jewish Trial with Caiaphas. Read Matthew 26:57-68. How does Jesus clearly identify Himself here (He is identifying Himself as the one Daniel prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14 and the one the Psalmist prophesied in Psalm 110:1-2). What is the response?
Legally, they were supposed to wait til sunrise to formally charge Him and begin the beatings, but they began the beatings now. (Luke 22:62-65.)
21. Paige noted that while Jesus was inside confessing Himself, Peter was outside denying Him. All four gospels record Peter’s denials. Why, do you think?
22. Now that it is sunrise, they need a formal Jewish verdict. Find it in Mark 15:1
23. Third Trial — to Pilate for the Roman Verdict.(Pilate to Herod to Pilate) The Jews could not order death by crucifixion, but the Romans could. Read John 18:28-38.
A. What stands out to you from John 18:28-38
B. In John 19:1-16, how does Pilate, though he believes Jesus is innocent, find a way, according to Roman law, to order his death?
24. (Challenge questions) The book of Revelation shows us that when the government (empires, kings, rulers) and the religious establishment of the day agree to oppose God, you know Satan is empowering them. This is what we saw at the trials of Jesus through Pilate (representing the Roman government) and Annas and Caiphas (representing the synagogue, the religious establishment) did. This is what we should also be alert to today — when the government and church of the world (not the true church) agree in their opposition of Christ and the Word.
A. Opposition from Without: Pergamum, the church Christ addresses in Revelation 2:12, was the center of Asia Minor and the government seat for Asia Minor where Caesar ruled. What do we learn about this government in Revelation 2:13? What does He tell believers who have been influenced by trusting in a government leader instead of in God to do in Revelation 2:16?
B. Opposition from Within: Philadelphia, the church Christ addresses in Revelation 3:7, has a different foe but is of the same mind. Find it in Revelation 3:9. What does He warn believers to do in 3:11?
C. How might you apply this?
25. The Crucifixion from John’s perspective: John 19:16-30
A. Another irony with prophetic significance occurs in verses 21-22. What is it?
B. Did you know that John was Jesus’ cousin? (His mother, Salome, was Mary’s sister) Why do you think Jesus gives them to one another when he had siblings?
26. The Crucifixion from Matthew’s perspective: Matthew 27:32-50
A. Another irony with prophetic significance occurs in verse 42. What is it?
B. Paige pointed out that for the first time Jesus does not call God “Abba” in verse 45. Why, do you think?
27. The death from Matthew’s perspective: Matthew 27:45-56.
A. Find all the evidence you can that this was a supernatural event.
B. Paige pointed out the only disciple that was there was John. Who else was there that you find interesting?
This is from When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada:
They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.
But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day, an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.
His Father! He must face his Father like this!
From heaven, the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes His mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.
“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, over-spent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held a razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who moles young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end!
Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?
Of course, the Son is innocent He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.
The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.
“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”
But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.
The Trinity had planned it. The Son had endured it. The Spirit enabled Him. The Father rejected the Son whom He loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted His sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.”
The one thing that got Jesus through the cross and was the joy that was set before Him. You have got to know that we are the only joy that he could have on that side of the cross that he did not have before. Why would you do that? Because you were His joy because you are His great love.
28. Use the above to lead you into worship.
29. Read Matthew 27:62-66 and share what stands out to you.
30. How did God meet you this Holy Week?