Read Luke 19:41-42
We begin Holy Week walking alongside Jesus as he travels to Jerusalem with his disciples. He pauses at the Mount of Olives to look over the city, then weeps. Why? What is it that makes his heart sad? Listen to Jesus’ words, and hear his lament, “if you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace …”
If you, even YOU, had only known on THIS DAY what would bring YOU peace.
Often, we begin Holy Week looking at Jesus’ triumphal entry as throngs of people line the road waving palm branches and shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.
Jesus begins it with a long pause and passion for people who miss out on the peace He brings.
Are you in need of his peace today?
Reflect: Imagine Jesus extending his hand to you while lovingly inviting: if you, even you _________________ (your name here) had only known on this day what would bring you peace. What type of peace do you need THIS DAY? How will you respond to his invitation?
Pray: In the prayer Jesus taught us to pray (The Lord’s Prayer) he says, “give us this day our daily bread” not as an expression of demanding something from God but depending fully on Him. It is stating, “There’s no way I can get through this day without your ____________________ (fill in the blank).” What is it you need today?
Read John 13:2, 12
As Jesus entered into his final days on earth, he gathered in the upper room with his disciples and John 13:2 reveals, “He now showed them the full extent of his love” (Greek: uttermost); then, taking the role of a slave, he performed the task of a servant and demonstrated his uttermost love by washing their feet. By washing their feet?
There was questions and confusion. Jesus responded, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (v. 7). Peter refused to have his feet washed, then turned around and boldly asked for more than his feet to be cleaned. Meanwhile, somewhere around the table the one who would betray him sat in silence. Verse 12 tells us the end of the scene that becomes a new standard of love: “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them.”
Reflect: Do you understand what Jesus has done? From the outside-in this looks like a community at a Passover meal trying to discover exactly what (who) they believe. But if we shift angles we grasp what is taking place from the inside-out and see people with different temperaments having supper while trying to figure out both who Jesus is and what his presence means to life: my life, your life, our lives, others’ lives. Jesus changes everything. He brings peace and grace and mercy and love to everyday life.
Pray: Ask God to help you know who Jesus is and what he means to your life. What does it look like to see him as the source of love, the center of love, the standard of love, and the reason we love?
Read John 16:33
Jesus’ parting words span from John 14 to John 16:33 during this last week on earth. He knew it would be anything but peaceful as it ended in death on the cross; yet He continued to focus on his Father’s will and those he came to love.
Beginning in John 14, he comforts the disciples and announces he is coming back. He explains how he and the Father are one (verses 5-12), shares a new privilege in prayer (verses 13-14), promises the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for those who trust him (verses 15-26), and enlightens us on how his peace is different than the world’s (verse 27).
Beginning in Chapter 15, he provides a beautiful image of the vine and branches while helping us learn that the love language of God is obedience and the love language of Jesus is abiding with him. In verses 15-17 he changes our status from servants to friends, then reveals how the world will view us as his followers (verses 18-27), using language that includes hate and persecution.
In Chapter 16 he warns of harsher times (verses 1-6), then immediately tells of the work of the Holy Spirit (verses 7-15). Jesus speaks of his death, resurrection, and second coming (verses 16-31) without mincing any words.
Reflect: In John 16:33 Jesus states, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” How does Jesus differentiate between what the world has to offer and what he has to offer? Which one will you choose on this day?
Pray: Invite Jesus’ peace to be with you and God’s strength to uphold you.
Read John 17
In John 17, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane in intimate conversation with his “dad.” We are given the gift of hearing exactly what was on his heart the night before he would go to the cross. It is filled with emotion and distress.
Yet, Jesus prays for protection from the evil one for us, and requests, “that they may be one as we are one” (v. 11). In verse 21 he prays for the inclusion of future believers who will join us on the faith journey and longs for the whole world to believe God sent him. In verse 22 he again prays for oneness, and, in verse 23 he pleads for “complete unity” as the world will know both he and his love are real, based on what they see in us. So much is riding on our love.
Reflect: A sizeable portion of Jesus’ parting words address the fact that we are going to face tough times, so he is preparing us with exactly how to continue on as we remain with him and obey God. The journey of the Christ follower is not an easy one, it is perseverance, and we are meant to do life together even when we cannot be together. We must encourage each other to keep pressing on.
Pray: Pray that we will creatively display the love of God to all those we interact with, especially during this season of social distancing. Pray that we will learn how to practice distant socializing while displaying God’s love.
Read: John 19:25-27
John tells us of a tender moment that takes place as Jesus hangs on the cross: “… When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-27).
I can’t imagine the anguish coursing through Mary’s heart as she watches her son hang on the cross, suspended between two common criminals. Simeon prophesied her soul would be pierced (Luke 2:35).
Even though Jesus’ pain was excruciating, he takes time to look out into the crowd, find her, and with compassion and kindness ensure she is cared for as he leaves this earth. What astonishing love! What selfless consideration.
Reflect: Compassion is a quality Jesus learned from his Father and exhibited often as he walked among us. See Matthew 9:36, 14:14, and 15:32 for examples. How can you display this kind of tender care and thoughtful considerations, even in tough times?
Pray: Charles Spurgeon, Morning by Morning (Day 43). “There is no prayer as earnest as the one coming from the very depths of the soul through deep trials and suffering. Difficulty brings us closer to God.” Ask God to help you draw closer and closer to him. Consider the words of Psalm 130:1, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.”
- Songs We Sing
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