Pastor’s Corner: “Passion Week”
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1
Passion Week, which is also known as Holy Week, starts on Palm Sunday and continues until Resurrection Sunday. It covers the major events of Jesus’ last days on earth before His crucifixion and resurrection. It is a great week to slow down and observe the last moments of Jesus’ life.
- What did Jesus do during His final week?
- What was He like?
- What was He teaching about?
- How were other people treating Him
All of these things help us get a fuller picture of those last days, and help us understand what it was really like for Christ.
GOOD FRIDAY: “The Most Lost and The Most Gained”
Isaiah 53:5 (AMP) – 5But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]; The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him,
And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.
Never before or since has more been lost and gained at the same time as at Jesus’ crucifixion. The cross was the reason the Son of God had come. It was Jesus’ presence on the cross, not His ability to come down from it that would prove His divinity.
What images come to mind when you imagine the crucifixion of Jesus? Go ahead – take a second, close your eyes, and imagine the crucifixion. What do you see? Three crosses? Crown of thorns? The gnashing teeth of the crowd? Christ’s pained face? The spikes? The blood? What do you hear? Hammering nails? Cries of pain from our savior? The jeering crowd with mocking and insults?
Everyone struggled on crucifixion Friday: The disciples struggled to keep faith. Pilate struggled to save face. Faithful women struggled to help Jesus. Pharisees struggled to discredit Jesus. Soldiers struggled to hurt Jesus. But no one struggled more than Jesus. People called him a liar, beat him with sticks, and plastered his face with spit. They yanked chunks of flesh from his back with a hook-tipped whip, crucified him naked in front of family and friends. What few friends there were….when falsely accused, no one defended him. When he stumbled beneath the weight of the cross, no one came to help him. When hung up to die, no one rescued him.
Can you recall the moment in your life when you experienced the most pain? Maybe it was physical pain when you broke your arm or your leg or something else. We’ve all experienced moments of physical pain. But then there’s the emotional pain we can experience when someone has hurt us. For instance, there’s the pain of rejection, betrayal, or abandonment when a husband says to his wife, “I’ve been unfaithful,” or when a wife says to her husband, “I want a divorce.” One of the worst kinds of pain you can experience is when someone you care about, someone whom you thought was a loyal friend, has betrayed you. There’s emotional pain when a child says to a parent, “I don’t want to live the Christian life.”
When do you think Jesus experienced His most painful moment? Do you think it’s when the soldiers placed the crown of thorns on His head or when they beat Him with a Roman whip, most likely a cat-o’-nine tails? Do you think it’s when they placed Him on the cross and drove nails through His hands and His feet? As horrible and horrific as all those things were, I don’t think any of them were Jesus’s most painful moment. His most painful moment was when He bore all the sins of the world upon Himself.
That’s because Jesus never sinned. He never had even one thought out of harmony with God the Father. But as He hung on the cross bearing the sins of the world, Jesus was forsaken of God so that we could be forgiven. He entered the darkness so that we might walk in the light. He endured sorrow and suffering for a time so that we might enjoy His presence forever.
How did Jesus endure such day of suffering on Good Friday? “…for the joy set before him, [Jesus] endured the cross.” (Heb. 12:2 NKJV). Jesus faced his Friday by looking into eternity. By making Heaven bigger, his pain became smaller. Follow him through Friday and listen in on his thoughts.
Daybreak: He tells his accusers, “The Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the Mighty God” (Lk. 22:69 NIV). Matthew’s Gospel adds these words: “In the future you will see the Son of Man…coming on the clouds of Heaven” (Mt. 26:64 NIV).
When interrogated by Pilate later in the day, Jesus’ mind still lingers in Heaven. “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36 NIV). Jesus kept lifting his eyes upward. “You would have no power if it were not given to you from above” (Jn. 19:11 NIV). Jesus faced His Friday by facing heaven and eternity.
As we carry our crosses, let’s do likewise. As Heaven grows, our struggles lessen.
Because He died, we can live. Because He obeyed, we can be forgiven. Because He was condemned, we can be saved. Following Jesus is not about better, faster, stronger, higher. It is about recognizing our helplessness, admitting our guilt, and receiving His sacrifice on our behalf. Everything depends on the crucifixion and resurrection. Everything. That means nothing is left to depend on us. Grace is something we receive, not something we earn.
We do not come to the cross as worthy people, promising to do better. We come as desperate beggars, acknowledging our need and seeking God’s empowering grace.
In His Grace,