Archive for the ‘Holy Week’ Category

switchfootI used to listen to a talk radio show that combined serious debate with humorous bits. One of their attempts at comedy was when they would have a character on who was supposed to represent the average evangelical Christian.

This caricature would always take some view point that didn’t seem very Christian but then explain it in such a way as to justify it as being the God’s honest truth. All of this would lead in to an argument with the show’s host. But after the host had torn apart their argument, the Christian would always sneer back to the host, “Guess what….God loves you. DEAL WITH IT!”

It was like they were saying, “God is rubber and your the glue, whatever you don’t believe about Jesus bounces off of him and sticks to you!”

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answers.
Matthew 27:12

When Jesus was on trial, he was asked to explain himself, to defend himself. It was as if by finding the right words, some air tight legal defense, that he would be able to wow the authorities, convert them to his cause and win his release.

Jesus didn’t roll his eyes, exhale an exaggerated sigh and say, “I could try to explain it to but you’re just too dense to get it.” He didn’t say, “It’s a Christian thing you wouldn’t understand.” He didn’t roll out a chalk board and say, “OK, I’ll outline this one more time and go slowly.” His closing argument to the earthly authorities was basically, “Look at how I have lived my life then tell me who you think I am?”

I love the band Switchfoot. Here is something that their lead singer John Foreman had to say recently, “If I view the truth as my possession to keep safe, I might feel the need to protect my faith. But if I am possessed by the truth, perhaps this protection is no longer needed. Maybe I am set free from the need to defend the truth, rather the truth defends me.”

Last night I got to see Switchfoot perform. It was amazing! They are great musicians who know how to rock out and get the audience pumped. But I’ve seen other bands that have those same qualities. What makes this band unique? Their sense of joy in what they are doing, how they delight in being with each other, how they care for their audience, the causes that they promote, and how their lyrics reflect both their struggles and their faith in God…it all comes together in a band that is set free. They are possessed in the truth. They are defended by the truth. And because of that, they rock.

Jesus didn’t need to defend the truth. Jesus was the truth. He lived the truth.

Can we live our lives in such a way that we don’t need words to justify ourselves? Can we live our lives in such a way that our actions mirror God’s truth? Let’s live in such a way that people won’t ask us if we believe in Christ. Let’s live so that they’ll say, “Look at how they live. Look at how they love each other and even those who don’t get them. Yes, they are Christians!”

arrest in garden

One Sunday we come to church and wave palm branches. Jesus is entering Jerusalem triumphantly! The next Sunday we come to church and we see Easter lilies. Jesus is risen! But what happens between those two celebrations?

I wish we didn’t have to live from one Sunday to the next because what happens between those two occurrences is awful to recount. He’s beaten, mocked, nailed to a piece of wood and killed in a painfully slow manner. What’s to celebrate?

Yet if Jesus did not endure these things, which we collectively call the Passion, then he wouldn’t be….Jesus! We can’t have Jesus without the Cross. We can’t have Christmas, Palm Sunday or Easter without the Cross. We cannot be Christians without the Cross.

The disciples said “See, Lord, here are two swords.” That is enough,” he replied.
Luke 22:38 (NIV)

We find Jesus with his disciples. They are on alert because they are afraid that Jesus will be arrested soon. Many travelers in that region carried swords to protect themselves from bandits. So that makes sense to carry them for security. But it also seems that he gives them permission to defend him with swords if they are attacked. Does he?

Are two swords enough to stop the Roman military if they want to take Jesus by force? Does Jesus mean, “That’s enough to get the job done”? Or does he mean, “That’s enough, I’m tired of folks using violence to get their way”? Maybe he’s being sarcastic: “Hey Jesus, we’ve got two swords!” “Oh yeah, THAT will be enough to stop a legion!”

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
Matthew 26:52 (NIV)

One of Jesus disciple’s draws his sword and cuts off the ear of one of the soldiers sent to arrest Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just say that this wasn’t the way to act. He then heals the ear of the soldier. I wonder if this same soldier later tortured, mocked and crucified Jesus? Does it make you mad to think that Jesus may have healed someone who then turned right back around and tortured and killed him later?

I found this as a way to explain why all this happened this way:
“God has no need of our services, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes. Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was a voluntary weakness; he submitted to death. If he had not been willing to suffer, they could not conquer him.” – Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

I want Jesus to call on angels to protect him. I want the disciples to become generals and lead the people as an army against the Romans. I want the motion picture epic story line with a rousing speech on the battle line and a musical score by John Williams! I love Jesus so much I want to pick up my sword to defend him!

But Jesus asks me to put down my sword. He’s got this one. He asks me to trust him.

The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is Holy Week. Jesus is going to triumph, we’ve already flipped to the last page of the story and read the ending. But let’s take this week to reflect on just what it cost Him to bring us Easter.