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!
“The instrument of death became a Tree of Life.” Isn’t that beautiful? I copied that sentence from somewhere, so I can’t attribute authorship, but God’s power to bring life from death is beautifully portrayed in those words. And isn’t that what Holy Week reminds us?!
Jesus is Life from death. He conquered the grave…He conquers the grave for all who believe.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV
It is beautiful to watch the revelation of Life come into focus for someone. As a friend of mine says, ‘We all have a designer walk of faith.” As we walk through the Scriptures around Holy Week, we see that Truth unveils itself differently for each.
Yesterday we considered how some believers became locked in a prison of grief. Others worked through their grief…such as those who headed to the tomb to care for the body of Jesus. What a surprise awaited them!
“…very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared…” Luke 24:1
There in the shadows, fear, confusion, anger, hope and ultimately joy cascaded through hearts. Inside that sepulcher, angels sat…fully understanding and rejoicing in what had just happened…and probably puzzled at the dullness of the human heart. As the angels reminded the women of words Jesus had spoken…and as the women repeated the words to the disciples…unbelief still ruled hearts. Then, glimmers of understanding began to lighten the darkness.
On the Road to Emmaus, grief and confusion dominated the conversation until ‘a stranger’ expounded on the Scriptures that declared the Truth of the horrifying events. Then, as they sat to eat together, their eyes opened! “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way and while he opened to us the scriptures?” Hope and joy flowed from their conversation as they rushed back to Jerusalem.
The revelation of Jesus is always an act of mercy from the heavenly Father. Jesus taught that when Peter recognized Him:
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven”. Matthew 16:17
Jesus meets each of us when and where we are ready to receive Him. The message He first gave to the disciples as they cowered in the locked room is a message for you and me as well. His first words, were :
“Shalom Aleichem.” (Wholeness, peace, and well-being is His greeting. Then comes our mission… )“As my Father has sent me, even so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” John 20:19-23
That is a powerful mission. It is an impossible mission if we do not receive the Holy Spirit. Human effort accomplishes nothing. It is only the life of Christ, powered by the Spirit of God, that can walk on the hallowed ground of forgiveness. When we accept our part, the divine revelation of Jesus Christ can come to others. That is the high and holy privilege of every believer. Do you remember the prophetic words from Isaiah 53 shared yesterday?
“…when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
Receiving our mission gives honor and glory to Jesus…and fulfills the will of the LORD.
As you journey toward Resurrection Life, ask Holy Spirit to reveal:
when you have encountered Jesus and felt your heart burn within you
if you are holding anyone back with unforgiveness or bitterness
how Jesus gives Shalom Aleichem in the midst of your troubles