186 entries for this category:
| The Meaning of Holy Week |
"-- I am going to talk just briefly about each of the 4 days we celebrate this week - Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter - and look at how in each day Jesus surprises us and defies our expectations of who he is.
-- It begins with Palm Sunday, which we celebrate today, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem and everyone thinks he`s coming to kick out the Romans and bring freedom to the Jews so they lay down Palm branches and shout, "Hosanna " King of the Jews." You can understand why they are so excited because for centuries they have been oppressed and conquered by everybody - the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans - they`re 0 and 5 and their season is not improving. If they were a basketball team, they would be in the B league. In fact they probably wouldn`t even be in a league; they`d be in someone`s driveway playing horse, and they wouldn`t even have an H. They are so excited because finally they think Jesus is going to give them a political victory, but that`s not what Jesus came to do. He didn`t come to Jerusalem to kick out the Romans; he came to die to take the punishment that we all deserve on himself. That is not what they expected or wanted. Palm Sunday represents all the times that we get really excited about Jesus because of what we think He can do for us rather than about who he really is and what he really offers. Palm Sunday represents all those times we get excited about Jesus because we think he`s going to give us the job we want or the health we want or the friends we want.
-- I had a student who was applying for a Rhodes Scholarship a couple of years ago, and he tried to make a deal with God. He said, "God, you give me the Rhodes Scholarship and I`ll tell everyone I got it because of you." I remember saying, "I don`t think that is going to work." He said, "Why not? What better way to make God look good than to make me a Rhodes scholar." Do you ever do something similar and say to God, "Lord, make me successful, make me happy, give me what I want." That`s what the Palm Sunday crowds were saying, "Lord, do for us what we want and make us happy." But Jesus didn`t come to make us happy; He came to make us holy and whole. Now I know that if you`re like me you`re thinking, "Bummer, that`s too bad, I want to be happy." But trust me whole is better; it lasts longer, it`s more rewarding, and it`s more productive than happiness, which is fleeting. Jesus came to make us holy and whole - not what we expected.
-- This leads directly into the second day of Holy Week - Maundy Thursday. This is the night that Jesus celebrates the last supper with his disciples. It`s also the night that Judas betrays him, and the gospels imply that the reason Judas betrays Jesus is because he`s exasperated that Jesus seems more concerned about saving souls than about starting a revolution. So because Jesus doesn`t follow the script, Judas turns his back on him. Here again we can relate because this sometimes happens to us. We get disappointed with God because he doesn`t do what we want him to do. We just ignore him or do our own thing or maybe come to church, but don`t really give our lives to him. Like Frank Sinatra we do it "our way" and follow our own path. Maundy Thursday is about all the ways we turn our back on Jesus, as everyone does that first Maundy Thursday 2, 000 years ago. It`s the most sordid night in human history. The disciples fall asleep instead of praying with Jesus; the chief priests put Jesus on trial in secret at night. Then the priests get afraid and pass him off to Pilate, who passes him off to Herod, who passes him back to Pilate. Pilate finally caves in like a house of cards to the angry crowds, who just a few days before were praising Jesus but now demand his death.
-- Maundy Thursday is about all the ways that human beings fail God, but here again Jesus surprises us. You would expect him to give up on such a sorry lot, but that is not what he does. Instead he keeps pursuing us and chasing us, and as much as we run away from him, he never gives up on us. Do you know who held the seat of honor at the Last Supper? Judas - because God never gives up on us. And do you know what Jesus does BEFORE the Last Supper? He washes his disciples` feet. Think about it -- in a culture where people walk everywhere in dirt and dust, no water to take a bath, nothing but leather sandals absorbing all those odors, and what does the son of God do? He kneels down and washes those dirty feet. Maundy Thursday is about how Jesus loves us in spite of our dirty feet, in spite of our failures, fears, and weaknesses. It`s about how he cleans us up and makes us whole.
-- This brings us to the third day of Holy Week, Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified. Surely there is no bleaker moment in human history than when we decided it was expedient to kill our Creator. But here again Jesus defied our expectations and surprises us, because - as the name suggests - this horrible event turns out to be good. Not because of what happened on that day, but because God used that day to make us good by paying the price we deserved so we could be reconciled to God. It`s the best worst thing that ever happened and that`s the paradox of Good Friday, the irony of Good Friday. Unlike other religions that just pretend there is no such thing as evil or say if only you meditate right you can escape the illusion of suffering, Good Friday tells us the truth. Evil really does exist and suffering really does hurt, but God can take even the worst events and make them good. Unlike other religious figures, Jesus doesn`t AVOID SUFFERING and SIN, he absorbs them and transforms them into something good.
-- The last day of Holy Week is EASTER, the day Jesus was raised from the dead. Easter is a powerful symbol that with God there is no such thing as a dead end. God can conquer even death itself and can take the worst defeat and turn it into victory. There is a semi-famous painting called "Check Mate" that depicts a chessboard where the king is supposedly in check mate, but one day a master chess player was studying this painting for hours and finally said, "It`s not true; the painting is wrong. The king is not in check mate; he has one more move." That`s Easter and again it defies our expectations. You would expect death to be the end of the game, but not with God. He can make even the worse defeat a victory. As bleak as things get, God always has one more move left. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter - four different ways that Jesus defies ourexpectations and surprises us:
1) By pursuing his agenda, not ours, and making us holy
2) By loving us at our worst
3) By using our sin to save us
4) By turning a dead end into a new beginning
-- But there is one more day left, and we don`t celebrate it, but I think it is the most important day of Holy Week - Saturday - the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection. What do you think the disciples were doing on Saturday? Here they have seen their friend and their Master killed the day before but also have this vague promise, which probably seemed ludicrous at the time that he would rise again. So what do you think they were doing on Saturday between the tragedy and the promise?
-- Most of life is Saturday. We`re in a terrible position, but we have a promise from God that we only half believe. It`s after the doctor tells us we have cancer, but before we`re cured or find a new depth of faith to cope with it. It`s after the marriage breaks up, but before God heals the grief. It`s after we`ve been laid off, but before God uses our gifts in a new place. Most of life is Saturday. It`s waiting in faith and hanging onto the promise that God is going to come through for us in spite of how bad things look. Most of life is Saturday. By: John Ortberg
-- I don`t know where you are this Holy Week. Maybe you`re in a Palm Sunday kind of mood wanting God to get on board with p agenda and maybe he will, but if he doesn`t know that his plans are always good. Maybe you`re feeling a little unlovable because of something you`ve done or haven`t done. Maundy Thursday means that God loves us no matter how dirty our uniform gets from the game of life. Maybe you`re in a Saturday kind of place - between a hard time and a promise you only half believe. Know this for sure that God`s Easter irony is still at work, and he can use even the worst tragedies for good, and he always has at least one more move left. No matter how bleak and dark Saturday gets, Sunday`s coming, and it`s coming sooner than you think.
Category: Final Week of Jesus
| The Meaning of Easter |
"-- If the resurrection of Jesus is about anything, it is the mother of all do-overs. It is the control-alt-delete of history. The first man God ever made, Adam, sinned by rebelling against God - Jesus is the do-over, and led a sinless life. The cross represents the worst thing that could happen; we kill our creator. Jesus is the do-over. God uses his death to be the means to our forgiveness, uses it for good. The cross ends in death, but on Easter morning, Jesus is the do-over when he rises from the dead, showing that God can conquer even the grave. Easter is a cosmic do-over.
-- That`s what Jesus is trying to get across to Peter in this story that we just read. Peter had blown it big time. For three years Peter had been Jesus` right hand man. For three years Peter had seen Jesus do amazing miracles. Jesus had even given him a new name, switching his name from Simon to Peter, which means the rock. For three years Jesus had been there for Peter. When Peter`s mother-in-law was sick, it was Jesus who healed her. When Peter was in a small boat being pounded by a storm, it was Jesus who came along and taught him how to walk on water. When Peter began to sink, Jesus lifted him up. At every turn Jesus had loved Peter, invested in Peter, and had been there for Peter. Then, the one moment when Jesus needed Peter, under pressure Peter caved like a house of cards and not only refused to help Jesus, but even pretended he didn`t know his best friend. Not once, not twice, but three times Peter denied knowing Jesus. Peter had blown it in a major way. And even though Jesus had been raised from the dead and Peter had already seen him twice, and even though Jesus said that his death paid the penalty for every wrong thing we have ever done, Peter still did not believe that all that talk about grace, forgiveness, and second chances were for him. Grace was for everybody else, Peter thought, but not for him because he had blown it so badly. He was a loser, and there are no second chances for losers.
-- And so he says one of the most heartbreaking lines in the Bible: "I`m going fishing." That is the loneliest line in scripture. Peter is saying: I didn`t do this disciple thing right, I`ve let down my best friend, I failed at this, this party isn`t for me. I`m going fishing, back to what I know, back to what is comfortable. I give up. I`m a loser. Ever do that? You hurt a friend and you think: There`s no way this relationship can ever be repaired, so I`m not even going to try, you toss in the towel. I`m going fishing. Or your marriage goes stale and you say: That`s it, this marriage has no hope at all, I`m giving up, I`m going fishing. You get laid off or fail at a project, and you think to yourself: I`m a pretender; everybody`s going to find out - I might as well stop trying, I`m going fishing.
-- That`s what is going on for Peter. Just a few hours before he denied Jesus, he had such big words. He said, "Jesus, I`ll never leave you. These other disciples might leave you, the worthless lot. Just look at them, but not me, Jesus, what you don`t understand is: I`m your boy. You stick with me Jesus, I`ll take you places." That was Peter, always bragging, always talking. And Jesus said, "Simon, Simon." ''He had to say his name twice, because Peter wouldn`t shut up.'' "Simon, Simon, you`re going to deny me three times." And he did. So now Peter is embarrassed, he`s depressed. He`s feeling like he`s been found out to be a pretender and a poser. If he could have taken any one moment of his life back, it would have been the moment when for the third time he said about his best friend: I don`t know the man. If ever anyone needed a do-over, it was Peter.
-- What is so compelling about Jesus? What makes him so different than any other religious figure is that because of Jesus` death and resurrection, we all get a do-over. The resurrection shows us that there are no dead ends, and even the worst thing can be turned around and used for good. Jesus shows that to Peter and to us in a couple of ways. The first way Jesus gives us a do-over is:
1) Jesus forgives us and wipes the slate clean. That is what Jesus is trying to show Peter in this story. He doesn`t want Peter to just know it in his head, he wants Peter to believe it in his heart. So he takes Peter through a reenactment of their entire three-year friendship. They met three years earlier when Peter had been fishing all night ''a very similar scene'' and had not caught anything. But then Jesus provides a miraculous catch of fish. Jesus reenacts that in this story. Yet again, Peter and his friends have been fishing all night and haven`t caught anything. ''These guys are my kind of fishermen, I want to go fishing with them, I would feel like I was the man if I even caught one.'' That`s what happens when we give up in despair and just seek our own comfort - we come up empty handed. But then Jesus shows up and they catch a bunch of fish. It`s a do-over. It`s a re-enactment of how Peter and Jesus first met, and it`s Jesus saying to Peter, "I know you`ve blown it, but I love you and we`re still friends." It`s a do-over.
-- When Peter sees Jesus on the shore, he jumps in the water and swims to Jesus. I love that. It shows how excited Peter was to see Jesus. Meanwhile, however, the other disciples have to row all the fish back to shore. I wonder how they felt about that. That`s life " there are jumpers and there are rowers " people who jump in and people who do all the work. In our family, I`m the jumper. I say, "Let`s go on vacation." And my wife packs the suitcases, makes the travel arrangements, and gets the kids ready - jumpers and rowers. Peter was a jumper, but Jesus loves him anyway. Then when Peter gets to the shore, Jesus re-enacts the last time he and Peter talked before Jesus died. It was the last supper where Jesus presided over a meal. So in this story, Jesus presides over another meal. After the last supper, Peter went out and denied Jesus three times. So after this meal, Jesus gives Peter a second chance "a do-over "a mulligan. He asks him three times, "Do you love me, Peter?" which parallels the three times Peter denied him. Peter gets a chance to do it all over again, only this time the right way. He gets to say three times, "Lord I love you, I love you, I love you." His denials are erased and replaced with the grace of God. It`s a do-over. It`s Jesus saying, I forgive you, and I have wiped the slate clean.
-- That`s good news. If it had stopped there, I`m sure Peter would have felt forgiven. He would have been filled with joy because he was reconciled with his best friend, but Jesus goes one step further. Not only does he forgive Peter, but he goes on to show Peter that he still has confidence in him. He says to Peter, "Feed my sheep, tend my flock, feed my lambs." In other words, he gives Peter a job to do. Not only does Jesus forgive Peter and wipe the slate clean, but gives him a do-over.
2) Jesus always gives us a second chance. By telling Peter to go back to the work of ministry, Jesus is saying to Peter, "I still have confidence in you. I know you think you have blown it beyond repair, I know you think that because you`ve messed up you have no worth, no value, nothing to offer. I know you think you`re a poser and a pretender. But I once called you the rock upon which I would build my church, and that hasn`t changed. You are still that rock. You are still my man, Peter, you are still my man. You are not a pretender. You are not a poser. You are a mighty warrior. Now get out there and get back in the game because I`m not giving up on you, so you don`t give up on you either."
-- You see, Jesus doesn`t just forgive Peter, he says, you still have something to offer. He gives him a second chance, a do-over. You see, with Jesus, failing doesn`t mean you`re a failure. In God`s eyes we are never failures. We don`t think of Thomas Edison as a failure, even though it took him 900 tries to get the light bulb right. We don`t think J.K. Rowling is a failure because it took her thirty tries to get Harry Potter published. Thirty tries, but we don`t think she`s a failure because of that. ''Maybe the editors who rejected the book " they`re failures, and unemployed most likely, but not J.K. Rowling.'' In the same way, Jesus does not look at us as failures, even though we blow it from time to time. Peter has spent three years learning to believe in Jesus, but what he discovers is how much Jesus believes in him.
-- That`s what Easter is all about. It`s never too late. It`s never over. If we know Jesus, every sin we`ve sinned, every way we`ve blown it, every failure, were all nailed to the cross with Jesus, and when he died they died with him, and he took those things to the grave with him. But when he rose, he rose up empty-handed, and left those things in the grave where they belong. If you know Jesus, then your sins, your failures, your insecurities, the ways you`ve been hurt, the ways you`ve hurt others, the horrible things that have been said to you, and the ways you`ve blown it - they are dead. Jesus rose, but those things did not. They stayed in the tomb. They are behind you. They can`t find you. They won`t haunt you. They can`t control you. God has buried them on the bottom of the ocean floor. The slate has been wiped clean. Not only are you forgiven, but if you know Jesus he gives you a second, and a third, and a fourth chance, however many you need, until you get it right.By: Scott Dudley
Category: Final Week of Jesus