“He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:6)
Looking back over the Lent Season and more specifically Holy Week, I am reflecting on my relationship with Jesus. This time of year is a like the new year, I realize that I need to tend to my relationship with Christ in order to grow stronger like the mustard seed in Jesus’s parable found in Luke 13:19, “It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”. How did I tend my garden during Holy Week.
Holy Week began with Palm Sunday the reminder that Christ humbly entered into a week of suffering both knowing and understanding what the end would bring. Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble King but left crucified on a cross. How should we as Christians reflect on this week and apply it to our lives? Palm Sunday was a day I spent in reflection of the beauty around me, my family, and the life that God has blessed me with. I was reminded of Christ as my King and Savior. Also, sadly on this past Palm Sunday I was reminded of the violence that so many Christians suffer around the world just as Christ suffered to bring us to salvation. The violence around the world and especially Palm Sunday must cause God to grieve for his people and his people must wonder what the future will bring as we move through Holy Week during such a volatile time in our world. Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is peaceful and bring peace to our lives even in the midst of chaos. As Holy Week begins my focus for the week even in my busy life is the walk with Jesus through this week. I read his entry to Jerusalem and paused at Mark 11: 7-8, “And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.” Palm Sunday for me was a day of reflection with little distraction from tending my garden.
Each day since Palm Sunday, I tried to understand Christ’s walk to the cross, and the lessons he taught the disciples and left for me during these last days. He was preparing them for what they were going to witness in order to share the Gospel moving forward after the crucifixion, and he was preparing his people for a future with a resurrected Savior.
Monday, as I worked, I remembered that on this day Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem to find practices that where not for a house of the Lord. Jesus drove out those who bought and sold in the Temple by overturning the tables. He spoke in Matthew 21: 13, ‘He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Jesus did not show anger according to the disciples, yet spoke the truth of what he saw happening in the Temple. He protected God’s house. As I worked this day, I remembered Jesus and this frustration and walked through the day with Jesus as my focus. Hold your tongue, speak truth, show love is my focus for this Monday of Holy Week.
The next day, Tuesday, Jesus was met the Temple leaders who tried to question his authority. Christ spoke and taught this day in parables as he spoke to the leaders and prepared his disciples for his coming death and resurrection. As I read the lessons Jesus taught on this Tuesday before his death, I search for the lessons these parables can teach me today. One parable is the parable of the Two Son’s (Matthew 21: 28-32) which illustrates Jesus rejection by his own people. The lesson that Jesus has taught me today is to be careful and remember to humble myself before God and ask for forgiveness of my sins. I tell students that their character is what they do when no one is looking, but I must remember that God is always watching and Jesus has reminded me of that today while reading the parables he taught on this Tuesday before his death.
On Wednesday, Judas conspires to betray of Jesus, yet in the evening Judas rebuked Christ for allowing Mary to wash his feet. I try to get inside of Judas’s mind. What was he thinking? Did he love Jesus? Was the money worth this betrayal? Was he considering backing out? I have never heard the term “Spy Wednesday”, but as I researched some of this Wednesday of Holy Week, I found this reference to this day. Matthew 26: 14-16 clearly speaks of Judas’s betrayal, ” Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” This makes Wednesday a strange day to walk through. Knowing what Christ knew about his future, about Judas, yet continuing to love through the pain he must have been bearing this week. I find myself in prayer and thankful for the sacrifice Jesus has made for me.
Maundy Thursday has arrived and Jesus is preparing for his Last Supper and the final directions for his disciples. He breaks bread and washes their feet showing his servant example to prepare the way for their ministry. John 13:5 shares Christ service to this disciples, “Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” He poured out his love on his disciples knowing the outcome he faced within hours. This Thursday I find myself focussing on God’ beauty around me. The world he has created for me, yet his greatest gift he sacrificed for me. I don’t stop and focus on Christ enough and show his love to others. I fail to wash the feet of those around me as the example Jesus left for me.
Good Friday or “Black” Friday is here. Why is it Good because Jesus suffered the unthinkable death and descended into hell to wash us clean. He suffered so that we might not. Jesus brought the “Good” back to his chosen. He chose to suffer so that we would not have to even though we are more deserving of this death. I am humbled at his gracious love for me. I can not get enough of the beauty around me and the handiwork of God. As I watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, I know he painted a beautiful picture for me that I did not deserve. I am extremely humbled by his mercy. So many years ago this Friday ended as described in Matthew 27:51, ” And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”
The darkness of Saturday has fallen as Jesus death is real. His final words still ring in their ears and as I read them this morning they linger in my thoughts all day. ‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.’ John 19:30. It is hard today to really imagine the pain those close to Christ must have endured this day and the separation that Christ endured for us from his Father. But the pain for his mother is something I can not imagine. What she must have suffered watching him die on a cross before her eyes? Even though Mary knew he was special and in God’s hands, the pain must have been crushing for her. Saturday must have been a dark day for Mary as she grieved the loss of her first son. This Holy Sabbath for the Jews must have seemed empty for many. I know I feel the emptiness of this day, but long for the Glory Easter morning will bring. A sense of renewal once again is coming.
Easter morning is here and I wake to a sense of peace and rest. I walk through the day thinking of his sacrifice and glory. I am indeed saved because Matthew 28:6 tells me, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”
Closing Verse: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Challenge: Have you stopped to humble yourself before the Cross? The cross which bore your savior so many years ago. Even though Holy Week has passed don’t forget to stop and tend your garden.
Please share if lead…