Holy Week - A Byte A Day

SATURDAY

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while he was alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’  So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day…’ ‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered.  ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ 

Matthew 27:62-65

On the Saturday of Holy Week, Jesus really was dead.  His corpse was lying lifeless in a cold dark tomb. But, Jesus had promised to rise from dead! That was something that no one would dispute.

However, the chief priests and Pharisees assumed that Jesus couldn’t make good on that promise. They thought some of Jesus’ disciples (who were locked behind closed doors in fear) might steal the body and trick everyone into thinking Jesus actually rose. So, on Saturday, they had the tomb made secure.

They wanted to secure that tomb so that no deception could take place.  Their actions made it impossible for anyone to come and take Jesus’ body.  On Saturday, The chief priests and Pharisees made sure Jesus body would stay in that tomb!

Our gracious, saving God, used the evil intentions of a group of men to give you and me the greatest assurance ever! That tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and sealed with the governor’s seal! It was as secure as a tomb can be! Jesus’ body wasn’t stolen! He really did rise from the dead that Sunday morning! 

When things happen on this earth that don’t make sense, remember who your God is. He’s the One who can work all things out for His eternal purposes!

God’s blessings until we gather celebrate the resurrection of our Savior!

Pastor Z.

 

FRIDAY

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

Luke 23:39–43

For what kind of people is the death penalty reserved?  Obviously, the answer is, “People who have done some terrible things!”  Jesus is, of course, a huge exception; His death is willing, and innocent.  But these two thieves were being punished justly—they even admitted that they deserved this punishment.   

So, would you have wanted one of these guys to move into your neighborhood?  Would you have invited these two over for dinner?  I seriously doubt it! 

And yet one of these thieves has the nerve to ask Jesus to take him to heaven!  That’s crazy, isn’t it?  I mean, look what kind of life this guy had lived!  What right does HE have to go to heaven?!

Ah, but the same question applies to you and to me.  What right do you and I have to go to heaven?  We have zero right to go to heaven.  None.  No, we’re not any more sinful than that thief on the cross; but we’re not any less sinful, either.  We deserve the same punishment these thieves deserved – eternal death in hell. 

And so it’s with incredible appreciation that we hear Jesus say, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Yes, Jesus promised this thief that he would go to heaven!  And if there’s room in heaven for that thief, then there’s room in heaven for you, for me! 

Today we celebrate the greatest love which has ever been seen—that God was willing to die for you.  Come!  Worship your gracious Savior!  

Thankful that there’s a place in heaven for me, just like there is for you,

Pastor Z.

 

THURSDAY

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.”

John 13:3-4

If I had “all things under my power,” what would I do with that power? Have you ever pondered what it would be like to have the kind of power God has? To have infinite wisdom like God—to have unlimited power like God—to be in charge like God is in charge? I’d guess that most of us would jump at the chance to be all-powerful—to be in charge!

Well, Jesus was in charge. “The Father had put all things under his power.” And how did he use that power? He used that power to…wash his disciples’ feet?!

Washing feet was a job reserved for servants. And yet who’s washing feet here? The Lord of all! The Lord of all things is serving! And not just serving—he’s serving in the most humble of ways!

This is YOUR Savior! Your Savior wants you to know that he came to this earth to serve YOU. Your Savior wants you to know that he came to serve your greatest need—your need for forgiveness—even when it meant setting his own interests aside. He’s a Savior who thinks first—not of himself—but of you!

So, it’s appropriate that we look to serve each other in love. It’s appropriate that we look to mirror our Savior’s example of service in our relationships with each and every person we meet.

There will be times when we will mirror our Savior well. There will also be times when we will fail miserably. This is why Jesus matters. He has so completely served our need for forgiveness that ALL our failures have been paid for—past, present and future.

Looking forward to joining you in witnessing our Savior serve us this evening,

Pastor Z.

 

WEDNESDAY

Holy week is the most important week in all of history.  Jesus came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – willingly coming to the city where He knew He'd be put to death.  Monday He cleanses the temple and does lots of teaching.  Tuesday there is more teaching and He's confronted by the religious leaders.  So now it's Wednesday.  What did Jesus do on Wednesday?  More teaching?  More confrontations with the religious leaders? 

You may have noticed the lack of a Bible passage above. That’s because we have no idea what Jesus did on Wednesday of Holy Week! On Wednesday of the most important week in all of history, we have no idea what happened.  Scripture tells us ... not a word.  NOTHING!

And we're reminded of an important truth: while the Bible tells us all that we NEED to know in order to get to heaven, it doesn't tell us all we'd LIKE to know.  I don't know about you, but I'd LOVE to know what Jesus did on Wednesday of Holy Week. But, God knew that I didn't NEED to know it.  So, God chose to not tell us. 

That leads us to treasure what IS in the Bible all the more.  If it IS in there, it's because God thought it was REALLY important.  If it’s in there, it’s a treasure from God—a treasure meant for you! 

So, thank you, God!  Thank you for telling me all that I NEED to know in order to get to heaven.  Lead me to treasure what's in Your Word!  Lead me to see it as vitally important for my life now, and for my eternity! 

Lord’s blessings on your Wednesday!

Pastor Z.

 

TUESDAY

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

Matthew 26:1-5 

I’m not sure if I’d call myself a control freak, but that statement probably isn’t too far from the truth.  If I have a choice between fixing the car myself and letting someone else do it, I’m going to choose the “me” option every time.  That way if something goes wrong, I know it’s my fault.  There is no one to blame but me!

Most people like to be in control of the situations around them, or at least like to think they are in control.  On Tuesday of Holy Week the chief priests and elders of the people thought they were in control.  They thought they had a great plan to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him, and were proud of their plan.  During the Passover feast, Jerusalem was packed with thousands of Jewish pilgrims who had come to celebrate.  By killing Jesus during the Passover feast, they thought they might run the risk of starting an uncontrollable riot, so they decided to wait until AFTER the Passover feast to kill Jesus.  They had thought of everything!

The irony in Matthew’s account of this discussion between the chief priests and elders is the verse immediately preceding it.  Jesus had just told his disciples that he would be handed over to be crucified ON the Passover!  So in reality, while these Jewish leaders thought they were in control of the situation, it was actually Jesus who was in control!  No one would be able to lay a hand on the God-man unless he allowed it to happen, and Jesus had just told his disciples he was going to allow it to happen on the Passover.

When reading through the book of Matthew, I suppose one could fly over this five verse section at the beginning of chapter 26 in eager anticipation of the events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.  But to do so would mean missing out on the true beauty of those very events!  Jesus wasn’t handed over to be killed because the chief priests and elders of the people formulated a master plan.  Jesus was handed over to be killed because that was his mission in life!  That’s why he was born in Bethlehem!  That’s why he came to this earth and lived a perfect life!  He came, so that when the time was right he would allow himself to be put to death, so the price for your sin and mine could be paid. 

On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus guaranteed that it would happen on his terms!

Looking forward to joining you in witnessing our Savior’s incomprehensible love this week!

Pastor Z.

 

MONDAY

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?' But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"  

Mark 11:15-17

What's your favorite picture of Jesus?  Is it the Christmas picture—the moment when God in the flesh took his first breath?  Is it Jesus with the little children on his lap?  Or Jesus as the Good Shepherd?  How about the risen Jesus or Jesus ascending into heaven? 

One picture that I've yet to hear someone claim as their "favorite" is a picture of Jesus fashioning a whip and driving the money-changers and merchants out of the temple. (Jesus did that on Monday of Holy Week.)  That picture probably makes us a bit uncomfortable.  But why is that?   Well, here's one reason.  It makes us uncomfortable because it reminds us that Jesus is a RIGHTEOUS King.  

And that SHOULD make us uncomfortable.  If my RIGHTEOUS King is coming to me, that makes me real nervous, because I'm a sinner.  The idea of standing before a righteous King…?  I don’t like that idea a whole lot, because I know how much I deserve His judgment, just like those money-changers and merchants deserved it.  

And yet He came.  He came to those money-changers and merchants.  He came to that sinful city of Jerusalem.  All so that He could do what they needed Him to do—so that He could die for them. And just as He died for them, so He died...for me.  My sins are forgiven.  My unrighteous acts have been taken away.  My eternity in heaven has been won.  

And that's a "picture" which I can hardly wait to see!  

Thankful for our righteous, yet forgiving Savior, just like you,

Pastor Z.