Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Week

The Sunday before Easter is traditionally called Palm Sunday - as you probably already know. Here is what happened in the life of Jesus on that first Palm Sunday.
The Triumphal Entry

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey's colt!”
 — at John 12.

The Monday before Easter is called just that - the Monday before Easter. It is also called Holy Monday. This was when Jesus showed how He felt about what was happening in the Temple. It was supposed to be a place of prayer for everyone, not a place where people were taken advantage of. (see Isaiah 56:7)

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those whosold,
46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him,
48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.
- Luke 19:45-48, ESV

Today is Holy Tuesday, the Tuesday before Easter. This was a very intense day for Jesus and His disciples, but as the week went on, things would get even worse. On this day in Jesus' earthly ministry, He went to the Mount of Olives, where He gave what is traditionally called The Olivet Discourse. Matthew 24 records this message. Here is a brief excerpt. Are we ready for this? :

37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,
39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Holy Wednesday is seen as the day when Jesus was anointed by a woman at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany. It is also the day when Judas made arrangements to betray Jesus. So, here we see two diametrically opposed reactions to Jesus - selfless love vs. selfish betrayal. Both of these people who were close to Jesus are remembered to this day. 

Mark 14
7 For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me.
8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.
9 Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.
11 When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

Today is traditionally called Maundy*, or Covenant Thursday. On this day the New Covenant in Christ's blood was instituted. The first Lord's Supper was celebrated. Jesus also washed the feet of the 11. Judas left the supper early to go do what he was plotting to do - betray his Lord. 

Matthew 26
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Good Friday - It's not clear why Good Friday was first called "good", since it is the day when we remember Christ's crucifixion. Maybe the person, or group of people who first coined that term understood the innate goodness in this day. We can see this event as a horrible tragedy and a great injustice, or we can see it as it is meant to be. The inherent goodness has to do with the Son of God shedding His blood for the sins of the world, God's wrath is satisfied, thus clearing the way for those who believe in Him to be reconciled to our Heavenly Father. That is the greatest good! As the great hymn, O Sacred Head, Now Wounded says, "What language can I borrow to thank thee, dearest Friend?"

John 19
The Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus;
17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.
18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew,in Latin, and in Greek.
21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Holy Saturday - What was Jesus doing on the 7th day of what is traditionally called Holy Week while His body lay in the bonds of death in Joseph's tomb? Some Christians call this day "The Harrowing of Hell", believing that Jesus descended into the place of the dead, declaring victory over sin, Satan, and death to its inhabitants. Here is what the New Testament records about Jesus' descent into the grave - it was only temporary.

Ephesians 4:8-10
8 ...“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?
10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

(see also 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 1 Peter 4:6)

*  Here is what Wikkipedia says about the word "maundy". :
"Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as theantiphon sung during the "Mandatum" ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or at another time as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community."

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