Following Jesus in His Last Week
Difficult times are the perfect backdrop for Holy Week. The first Holy Week followed a series of horrific plagues and began with God’s people fleeing in haste. As we enter into this holy time with hearts made vulnerable by the heartaches we feel, what a joy to remember we are on a journey to the Promised Land!
Helpless in the Face of Horror
Have you ever experienced a time of helplessness in your life? You saw a horror unfolding, but had no power to stop it. You witnessed injustices, but could not make them right. Or maybe you longed to remove another’s pain and suffering but could not.
At some point in life, we all have to face the reality that some things are beyond our control. We can’t fix everything. We can’t orchestrate the right outcome. For we control freaks, it is an awful feeling, a maddening, disconcerting, depressing fact of life! But let’s reframe that idea. What if reaching the end of our ability is where we meet God? What if helplessness is really the most powerful and purposeful revelation God gives us? The truth is that God uses difficult times to patiently lead us (often kicking and screaming) to humility.
And God never despises a humble heart!
Sin often catches us unaware…even though we launch it on its way. By the time we notice, it’s too late. When Judas kissed Jesus in Gethsemane, the power of sin rolled forward at break-neck speed. At the meal earlier in the night, Jesus had declared that He was about to be handed over for execution. He plainly stated that one of his trusted disciples would be the betrayer. Every disciple, including Judas, had asked, “I’m not the one am I, Rabbi?” Later, Jesus even told the disciples, “You will all fall away from me.” His words were inconceivable to them. We don’t comprehend our weakness until it stares us in the face.
Jesus understands it. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” While Jesus wrestled before the Father in sorrow, Peter, James and John slept. At His point of greatest need, His closest friends were powerless to help. Only the Father above could give Jesus the help He needed. He poured out His heart with passion…and total trust in His heavenly Father.
While flesh fails in the face of grief and horror, surrender to the Father produces eternal victory. “Thy will be done,” are words of faith and power. Jesus was not helpless in the face of horror…He was fixed on the Father’s will.
In fact, Jesus declared that He could ask the Father at any point to save Him…to send Him legions of angels. But love kept Him on course. Love strengthened Him to walk through horror confident of the Father’s plan. Hebrews tells us ‘for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.’ Because of Jesus, that same focus can be ours.
After the Passover meal, Jesus had poured out His heart to the disciples seeking to prepare them for what was to come. He spoke of the future, of the coming Holy Spirit…of disciples doing greater works than Jesus Himself…of receiving ‘anything that is asked in His name.’ “Don’t let your hearts be troubled,” He encouraged. ‘Abide in my love, obey me.’ Then He said, ‘I tell you all these things, so you can love one another.’
Love is the power that removes the helplessness. We see what Love looks like as we watch Jesus in the trial and on the cross. We see His Love most clearly when we are most helpless.
As you journey toward Resurrection Life, ask Holy Spirit to reveal:
When sin has taken you by surprise and left you helpless.
What makes love rooted in God’s will more powerful than any other force?
How do times of helplessness increase our understanding of agape love?