While there is no command to make one day more holy than another, this time of year causes many to reflect upon the passion Jesus had from the entrance on Sunday through the crucifixion later that week.
A. There are things you never forget. I remember watching as my mother, dying from cancer, was determined the last month of her life to invite people who were dear to her to come by the house and say “good-bye.” That may sound morbid, but she handled death with dignity.
B. When you know for sure that you are on limited time you begin to focus on the things most important to you. The phrase many people use is “their bucket list.” You do what is important and you organize your life very differently.
C. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that Sunday before his crucifixion, he knew he this would be his last week of ministry. What did he choose to do that week that we call “passion week?” Let’s examine some of the things he did.
I. A Broken Heart
A. The week begins what is often called “Palm Sunday.” Jesus rides into Jerusalem and the people spread their garments on the road in front of him. Some cut down palm branches and lay them before him. And still others followed him along the road crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” So Jesus came into Jerusalem on last time, but this time as a king and the hatred by the religious leaders began to swell to overflowing.
B. The reading we had from Luke 19 tells a story that you would not think based upon the reception Jesus had. But remember, Jesus knew what all would happen this week and how it would end. Jesus seems to be alone, maybe it was getting close to evening, but we read that heart of Jesus was breaking for the chosen people of Israel. The bible says. Jesus wept. Tears would flow down his face as he cried out (READ Luke 19:42-44).
C. With only days left in his ministry, Jesus was intentional to be called king, and as king he weeps for the people he came to save.
II. Holiness for God
A. The passion of Jesus was not just seen in his weeping, but also in his action. Early that week, probably on Monday, Jesus enters the temple area and drives out those who were selling animals for sacrifice. Listen to how Mark describes the scene for us (READ Mark 11:15-17).
B. There was an intentionally in that decision. It was not done lightly and was very public. The passion Jesus had for God was not about a building as it was a defense of the holiness of God himself. The temple had a purpose – it was a place to come before God in worship. It was not a market place. It was not simply a ritual sacrifice, it was a house of prayer, a place of communication with the creator of heaven and earth and they had defiled it and made it “a den of thieves.” They weren’t just robbing people of money they were robbing people of interacting with God.
C. Soon, at the time of the Jesus dying on the cross the great temple curtain would be torn in two from top to bottom and all barriers between man and God would be opened through blood of Jesus Christ.
III. Public Teachings
A. The passion of Jesus is seen in his public teaching that week. We read of several parables Jesus would tell so that people would remember the stories.
B. Jesus tells a parable about two boys who were suppose work in the vineyard, but one said he would go, but didn’t; the other said he wouldn’t, but changed his mind and did. But it is the conclusion that drove home the point of what Jesus was teaching (READ Matt. 21:31b-32).
C. Through all of his public teaching that week, Jesus caused the people to stop and think about God in ways they had not for a long time. When pushed about what was the greatest command from God, Jesus gave an answer we sometimes sing (READ Matt. 22:37-40).
IV. The Cross
A. The purpose of Jesus coming in the flesh was to save mankind from our sin. The blood of bulls and goats could not do that. They could not become the true sacrifice and even if they could, they could not conquer death. The very voice of God would speak this week. Listen as Jesus tells the purpose of his earthly ministry (READ John 12:27-33).
B. As the week drew closer to the end, we know that Jesus spent a long evening privately teaching his disciples about love and the coming Holy Spirit. We read of him in the garden praying for strength to his Father and of Judas coming and giving him a kiss to mark him as the one to be taken.
C. We read of Jesus tossed back and forth from the High Priest’s home, to Pilate, to King Herod, and back to Pilate. We read of his being beaten, mocked, and whipped. We read of the crowds crying “Crucify him! Crucify him!” We read how he fell carrying his own cross and then Jesus hangs on a cross. There, in the silence of dying men, Jesus cries out. Sometimes it is a pray, sometimes it personal anguish, and then he simply says, “It is finished.”
A. What makes Passion Week so important to so many? It is seeing this story unfold and knowing that Jesus went to the cross for me. For my sin. For my selfishness. Because I chose to walk away and want so desperately to walk home again.
B. How deep the father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.
C. While today we leave Jesus on the cross, we know the story that we will finish next Sunday. But I want you to see the cross; to know the pain; to understand the passion; and hear Jesus say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” If you need to respond to the Father’s love and the sacrifice of Jesus, then come as we stand and sing.
May God Bless You,