HOLY WEEK ~ Saturday

Reading: Matt. 27:59-61, Mark 15:46-47, Luke 23:56, John 19:40-42

“Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56 ESV

Not a lot was said about Saturday of Holy Week. It was the Sabbath so they had to get Jesus into the tomb on Friday and roll the stone over the tomb and wait until Sunday. Not much was said so we just have to think for ourselves, how were the disciples feeling? How was the Roman soldier, who as soon as Jesus breathed his last breath realized “this man was surely the son of God”, feeling? Have you ever had a sleepless night that you just kept thinking “How can this be?” I think the disciples probably did not sleep a lot. The world was quiet. They were probably together. We know most of them were on Sunday anyway. They probably sat around and rehashed some of the events of the previous days thought “how did we get here?” “What could we have done to stop this?” I just think in my human flesh that is what I would be thinking. I keep thinking of the following passage.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation” Psalm 42:5

They didn’t know it yet but all Hope was not lost. It’s not lost for you and me either. Sunday’s coming! 

HOLY WEEK ~ Good Friday

Reading:  Matt. 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:50, John 18:28-19:37

What’s so good about it? I’ve often wondered where in the world did someone come up with Good Friday if this is to represent the day Jesus was crucified? In today’s reading, the chief priests and the elders delivered Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. Before that Jesus was beaten, mocked, spit on and humiliated by the soldiers. The term used is scourged. The soldiers would take a whip that had shards of glass or sharp rocks tied on the ends of it. They would hurl it at Jesus’ body and when it would hit Him it would tear the flesh right off of Him as they pulled the whip back. They blindfolded Him and kept asking him to prophesy who was hitting Him. They twisted together a crown of thorns and pressed it on His head. 

When He was delivered to Pilate he questioned Him and could not find fault in Him. Pilate sends Jesus to Herod to be questioned because he thought then he would not have to make this decision. Pilate realizes that Herod is not going to decide for him and Jesus is brought back to him to decide. It was a custom to release one prisoner to the Jews during the time of Passover. Pilate, because He found no fault in Jesus offered up a criminal Barabbus. I think he offered Barabbus because maybe that was the most hardened criminal he had and he thought there was no way they would choose to release Barabbus over Jesus. This was his out. However the crowd chooses for Barabbus to be released. Pilate then washes his hands in front of the crowd and says His blood is on you. (Matt 27:24)

Meanwhile the very same people who had shouted Hosanna just days before were now shouting crucify him. They led Jesus away, He had been beaten, scourged, whipped, humiliated, the crown of thorns were pressed onto His head and He was nailed to a cross to die the most painful death imaginable. 

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:50-51 ESV

I have often when reading this passage thought of God taking his holy hands and grasping the curtain to the temple and ripping it from top to bottom. This curtain is the curtain which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place was where Gods presence dwelled. The high priest could only enter the Most Holy Place one day a year. And now the veil was torn from top to bottom. On that day, at that time, the veil was torn so that we could now approach the throne of God forevermore. 

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV

Holy Week ~ Maundy Thursday

 Reading: Matt. 26:17-75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62 and John 13:1-38 

A lot happened on this day. The day started with the disciples asking 

Jesus where they would eat the Passover meal. Jesus sends them ahead with specific instructions who to talk to and where to go. They follow his instructions and they are led to an upper room of a house and there they prepare the Passover meal. Again can you imagine all of the emotions of Jesus as they sit down for this meal? This meal that is so symbolic to them. Most of us know that the Jews observed this Passover to symbolize when they marked their door posts with the blood of the lamb so that the Lord would spare their first born from death on the eve of the Exodus from Egypt. This was a very important ritual to them and it held many symbols of their faith. 

They had sacrificed a lamb without blemish to enjoy at their meal with each other. Yet Jesus knows that He is about to be the sacrificial lamb for the world. Can you imagine sitting and eating with the one you knew was about to betray you? Jesus even washed the feet of the very person He knew was about to betray Him. (John 13:2-5,12-14) 

He has this meal with His closest friends. The chosen twelve. He washed their feet and He foretold His death. They broke the bread and He told them “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk 22:19) He took the cup of wine and said “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22:20). Then after the meal they sang praises and they set out to the Mount of Olives so that Jesus could pray. 

Jesus was in anguish while praying. He asked the Father to take this cup from Him if possible. God didn’t take the cup from Him but He did send Him an angel to strengthen Him. (Lk 22:43). And then He was betrayed. The soldiers came. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss no doubt. And then one of the last recordings of Jesus words on this Thursday is “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. ”Matthew 26:56 ESV.  

Jesus understood what was happening but His disciples did not. What started out as a good day was ending very dark and confusing to them. They began the day pledging their allegiance to Him and ended it by them fleeing Him probably in fear for their own lives as well as confusion about who Jesus said He was and how this was unfolding. Even though Jesus had given them glimpses of what was going to happen they couldn’t understand this. This was not how they envisioned it. This was not how they would have done it. The one they have followed and loved and believed was being handed over to be put on trial and the sentence was going to be crucifixion. I wonder when they realized that was going to happen. Was it when He was arrested? Or did the news come to them little by little. When Pilate asked the crowd didn’t they want Jesus to be released instead of Barabbus, were the disciples standing there dumbfounded that the crowd, that had just days earlier been waving palm branches were now yelling “Crucify Him”? When that rooster crowed and Jesus turned and looked at Simon and Simon came face to face with his own failure and disappointment in himself, did they think it was all over? I wonder.