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The Day a King Entered
Processions of power–they’d almost become white noise at this point. The blare of announcement trumpets…The sound of hooves and marching steps…The road filled with emblems, banners, and more Roman soldiers following in their tightly precise lines…another day, another arrival of a new legion…another day God’s people are reminded that they are but a conquered people.
For some time now, this land has been groaning for something–you can feel it in the air. From the time they were young children, every person inhabiting the humble dwellings along this road to Jerusalem had not just been taught about the splendor of a king named David, but also about the coming of another king, a “Son of David.” The great prophet Isaiah, the one whose name was spoken of in such reverence by the rabbis, promised that “The government will rest on his shoulders,” that “His government and its peace will never end,” and that “He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.”
You see, this day, this…procession was not like all the others. As the people stepped outside their dwellings to investigate the shouts and chants that had been rattling their walls, they found themselves looking at something quite different. Instead of the crossed arms of a hostile crowd, palm branches being waved in adoration. Instead of resentful silence, cries of “Hosanna!” Instead of a war horse, a simple colt of a donkey. And instead of a self-important political figure (like all the others), a man whose eyes communicated something new: We were remembered.
Today, let us take a moment to remember our bonds, our chains. Let us take a moment to remember the oppressor that held us in such darkness, with the promise of an even darker future. And, as we walk into this, the holiest of weeks, let us remember the king who entered, remembered His promises, and would not let it stay that way.
Take 10 minutes before the day ends and create a space of solitude for you and your Savior. Remember. And join the crowd singing “Hosanna” by choosing a song of worship and directing it towards Jesus as He enters.
After dinner, take a moment to share your personal testimony with your family, taking time to reflect on the goodness of God and how Jesus “entered” in the midst of the darkness you once lived within.
The Day the Tables Were Turned
Jesus didn’t even recognize His Father’s house; leave it to mankind to mar the divine. The Temple, His Temple, was supposed to be a house of prayer for all nations, yet it had turned into a den of robbers before His very eyes. The sight transported Him back to His teenage years, where after traveling all the way from Nazareth to Jerusalem to make sacrifices, He witnessed His widowed mother being cheated out of what little she had. The stench of hypocrisy was repulsive to Him, knowing that it had become more about profit & personal advancement rather than being made right with the one true God.
He launched the money changer tables into the air in disgust, & violently flipped the benches full of caged doves. The force was strong enough to unlock some cages, allowing lucky birds to escape what would’ve soon been an untimely fate. Completely caught off guard by the unfolding events, many remained quiet & simply watched, while some for the first time in their lives felt seen – their being ripped off had not gone unnoticed. Still others, like those whose businesses had just been turned upside down, quickly & loudly voiced their disapproval.
As the dust & feathers settled, He rebuked the merchants & the Temple authorities who had permitted & endorsed this thievery in the first place. Calling them robbers, He insinuated that their actions likened them to Jeremiah’s generation, whose worship was so defiled that the Lord gave the Temple over to be destroyed. With clear conviction, He called the people to repentance – reminding them that the Temple was supposed to be treated with awe & reverence, not disrespected & violated. He took it personally, & rightfully so, for He desired unhindered, untainted fellowship with the ones He loved.
God’s avenue to bring about unity of Heaven and Earth comes through the mediation of Jesus. However, Jesus passes the Temple (in John 16:7) to us, “I must go in order to send the Holy Spirit.” Today, dwell on the significance of being the Temple, the very resting place of the indwelling Spirit.
Jesus’ concern with the purity of the Temple underlines just how interested He is with our purity of heart. Later, Paul would write, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” The clinging to the fallenness of our world leads us to walk in ways God despises. Today, as God calls us to repentance, take 10 minutes to uproot the grip of sin and submit anew to God’s rule and reign in your life.
“It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; You are defiled by what comes from your heart.” At the dinner table, discuss the difference between these two statements from Jesus.
The Day the Questions Were Answered
Everyone in the temple courts watched nervously to see how Jesus would answer this teacher of the law’s final question, or if He would answer at all. Heaps of uneasiness settled on everyone’s shoulders, as they all understood that this question could be His undoing. How could it not? “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” What kind of question is that? Did this teacher of the law forget that people have been trying for centuries to find the heart of the 613 commandments in the Pentateuch, but to no avail? How could he expect this Jesus to adequately answer such a loaded question?
To their surprise, however, Jesus began speaking with no hesitation. “The most important one,” He answered, “is this.. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Silence penetrated the air as people expected Him to continue speaking, but He didn’t. One could see the looks of contemplative confusion settle over the crowd, & understandably so; 613 commandments had just been summed up in some 2-3 sentences. Based on that alone, this Jesus either really was God…or a blasphemous mad man, at best.
You could hear the minds of those present running wild, trying to make sense of such a simple, yet complex command. Love God, love people. But if love was to be the true north, the sole aim of our entire beings, then it most certainly mattered to what or to Whom our love was most directed. It sounded as if Jesus was saying that unless the flawless, whole-within-Himself God was our target, then the possibility of real love would always evade us. It is only when our entire being is directed towards Him that our fragmented affections can be made whole. Then, & only then, are we enabled to truly love others in the same way. Maybe, just maybe, this Jesus was on to something after all.
Today, take a few minutes to ponder on what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. As you exit your home, carry alongside you these thoughts on how to love the Lord with your ALL, placing Him at the center of your life!
The religious elite found themselves operating backwards, placing emphasis on self-effort, rules and exclusivity. As we journey through Holy Week, keep Jesus’ reasons for opposing the “righteous” religious leaders in the forefront of your mind. Do you often find yourself in those religious shoes?
Religion ≠ Relationship. As a family, examine religion and relationship. Religion is routine without reverence. Relationship is love and connection with God that is a true “get to”, not an obligatory “have to.” Share amongst one another your shortcomings dealing with religion.
The Day of the Deal with the Devil
In the home of Simon the Leper, while in Bethany, Jesus is approached by an unknown, uninvited woman as He’s reclining at the table. Without skipping a beat, & before anyone could stop her, she broke open her most expensive jar of perfume – worth a year’s wages – & began to pour it over Jesus’ head. As the pleasant aroma filled the air, the disciple named Judas, filled with disgust, adamantly opposed this woman’s act – calling it a “waste”. Why waste it on Jesus? Though the opposition & alternate suggestion seemed pious on the surface, the motives lying beneath were devilish. In reality, this disciple cared nothing for the poor. Or for Jesus.
After witnessing the woman’s sacrifice, with wounded pride as his compass, Judas left the company of Jesus & the other disciples to take action. The rumor was that the chief priests & the teachers of the law were actively looking for a way, an opportunity, to seize Jesus & kill Him, but with Passover quickly approaching, they were worried of what such an act might cause the crowds to do; they just couldn’t afford a riot – not here, not now. What they didn’t realize, though, is that their solution was on the way, & from within Jesus’ own, seemingly impenetrable, forever faithful circle. The 12. Soon to be 11.
The deal could’ve been made in the day, during the reign of the light, but one thing is for sure – it was inspired by darkness. And the price tag? Well, the Savior of the world was sold out for just 30 pieces of silver. That is what Jesus was worth to Judas – the equivalent of 4 months’ minimum wage in those days. Quite the contrast to the woman’s expensive jar of perfume that was so willingly poured out for Jesus just hours earlier. Nonetheless, the deal had been made, & demonic delight filled the air, for darkness had been given a chance to finally capture the Light.
When we are real with ourselves, at times we are no different than Judas. “We all carry about in our pockets Christ’s very nails.” – Martin Luther. We often discover ourselves hiding behind honorable deeds while being wholly self-serving. Today, as you move throughout the day, shift your eyes from yourself and “Walk by the Spirit” each moment today, trusting Jesus to win the war over flesh.
Meditate on David’s prayer, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Today, grant space for the Lord to shake the wrong motives from your life as you serve others wholeheartedly.
Read John 12:1-11 aloud after dinner and discuss the contrast between Judas and the woman. What jumps out to you as you weigh their intentions?
The Day the Lord Knelt
2 Corinthians 5:7
Up until this point, He had been the rock – steady & consistent, focused & firm. Between all of the miraculous healings & mind-blowing teachings & sermons, it was easy to forget He was still entirely human. Tonight was different, though. He withdrew to pray, as He often did, in a garden called Gethsemane. What had once been an authoritative stride was now a stagger at best. He walked as if the ground was shifting beneath Him with every step – putting one foot in front of the other seemed like small but mighty victories. Beads of crimson sweat covered His entire body & drenched His garments, bringing to mind an olive when it is pressed. His body, bent – shouldering precious weight invisible to the human eye.
He had spoken plainly of the things to come shortly before at the Last Supper – how His body must be crushed & His blood poured out at the hands of those He created. The thought of these things soon becoming a reality was enough to make His knees eventually buckle beneath Him; In a desperate attempt to find…some other way, He pleaded with the Father several times for another way, but the Son was met each time with a resounding & almost stubborn silence from heaven.
As Jesus wrestled with His desires & the loving will of the Father, the fate of humanity hung in the balance. In this moment, He didn’t want to die, & what’s even more sobering is that He didn’t have to, because we deserved nothing. We had chosen our fate long before in another garden called Eden. At any moment, the One who was sent to save & rescue could have chosen instead to be saved, rescued & returned to heaven, & it would have been completely just. Nevertheless, He lay with His face buried in the dirt He formed us with, knowing only He could do what we couldn’t; this garden’s story was going to be different.
When we imagine ourselves there in Gethsemane that evening, we instantaneously get an overwhelming sense of two truths: Jesus’ agape love & His human nature. Agape, in Greek, means unconditional and unmotivated love. How seen do you feel now knowing that Jesus wasn’t an emotionless God-robot? As you journey through the day, dwell on what it means to love unconditionally and to be fully known by an omniscient God! Jesus said “Yes” with you on His mind.
Although Jesus’ body was broken and His blood poured out, He did NOT turn from what the Father willed. Every single day we are faced with a similar challenge, to operate from a place of worry or to stand boldly in faith. Take 15 minutes before your day starts to meditate on Hebrews 10:19-25. (We highly recommend reading tomorrow’s devotional before 9:00AM, so please plan accordingly.)
Before dinner, as a family, observe the Lord’s Supper. Grab your juice and bread, and read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 as you reflect, proclaim, examine, and celebrate Christ’s finished work! (Also, be sure to set an alarm (for 9:00 am) for personal tomorrow’s observation.)
The Day that God Died
Golgotha. Rock formations resembling human skulls could be seen on the nearby hillside and those who came to this place knew they wouldn’t be leaving alive. Death was all around & dead ahead. It wasn’t even 9 am yet, & today had already been packed full of torture – beaten & flogged beyond recognition, His flesh dangling from His body, & His blood pouring with no sign of stopping. He was entirely sapped of His strength, & now had to bear the weight of a cross that never belonged to Him & somehow survive the last stretch to Golgotha. Yet, even with all of this, the worst was yet to come.
Though excruciating, what Jesus endured physically was nothing compared to the torment He experienced spiritually. Spiritually, Jesus & the Father had been one since the very beginning of time, knowing the utmost intimacy with one another. Always together in perfect & joyous unity. Never once had they left each other’s presence; never once had their fellowship been forsaken, that was, until the Son became sin for us. As the nails were driven into His hands & feet, The Father kept His eyes on His beloved Son for as long as His holiness could bear the sight. One by one, the sins of the world, our sins, were added to Jesus – the spotless, sinless Lamb. That once perfect connection was slowly but surely being severed for the first time. Finally, the sheer amount of wickedness Jesus was carrying was too much for God’s holy eyes to behold. In that moment, His eyes began to depart from Jesus, & His back started to turn away from the one & only Son.
Silence from Heaven met the Savior of the world, & even the earth was shaken by it. The sun refused to shine, & the ground jolted; the planet mourned. From the abandoned Son came the words, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” – but they only fell on human ears & mocking mouths. He was truly forsaken by the place & person He once knew as home. With His final breath, Jesus said, “It is finished.” & gave up His spirit. The work was done, the veil was torn; the price for our sin willingly paid by the only One who could pay it.
Today, Let us not forget those last words Jesus uttered on the cross, “Tetelestai” which means “It is finished.” Remember the price, paid-in-full, for you and I. The gap between us and the Father has now been bridged. Striving and chasing after the wind has now ceased.
When your 9 am alarm sounds, lift up prayers of thanksgiving! All the guilt and shame of your sin has been taken away and completely forgotten. There is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ. We have a heavenly Father who finds great delight in us.
After dinner, read Isaiah 53, Christ as the prophetic Suffering Servant. In remembrance for His ‘wounds for our transgressions’ stop and engage in reverent worship by playing, Son of Suffering by Bethel Music.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Saturday – the day when time somehow stood still yet simultaneously refused to come to a complete halt, the day when the silence was thicker than the air itself & heard by everyone, the day when it was almost impossible to believe that the silence of death wouldn’t have the final say.
“The King of the Jews” was dead, & the inner hopes of all the hearts who dared to believe what He had declared about Himself were dead in the tomb with Him. What the disciples had thought was their sure foundation had crumbled beneath them. They had built their lives on His words & left their livelihoods to follow Him. Feeling just as shattered & scattered as the rubble of broken dreams surrounding them, they wondered, “Now what?” What do you do when hope dies, & not just any hope, but THE Hope?
Little did the world know what was being worked within the quiet. Salvation’s story wasn’t over.. it was simply catching its breath. The silence stood no chance against the impending roar of resurrection.
The whole world seemed to be abandoned on that Saturday. It’s only right to pause ourselves and ponder the heaviness of that dreary day. Christ even calls us to “take up our cross and follow”. He calls us to be fellow partakers of the crucifixion. The question then is, “gain the whole world and lose your soul” OR “lose your life for HIS sake and FIND IT?”
“Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean.” – Dag Hammarskjold. Hold Hammarskjold’s words in your mind as you hear Scripture proclaim: “The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed!” Praise be to Jehovah-Rapha – The LORD Our Healer!
Today, go for a walk as a family, and seek out freshly bloomed flowers. As the dormancy of winter is fading and new life springs forth, it’s quite clever that the Lord timed this all accordingly. What does “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” speak of this gloomy Saturday before the world is to be forever altered?
The Day the Stone Was Rolled Away
A week had passed since the disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus. Of course, it conveniently happened the one time he wasn’t with them all. Practically having a default mode for doubt, Thomas just couldn’t wrap his brain around it. How? How could they have actually seen Jesus? THE Jesus? The one they all followed together & saw do miracles & wonders & teach & talk & walk in ways they had never witnessed before? The one that had just been crucified before their very eyes & was sealed in a tomb guarded day & night by soldiers? Surely not. He refused to believe without some good, hard proof – & not just any proof. No, he wanted to see the nail marks in his hands, & the gash in his side – & as if that wasn’t enough, he wanted to touch them.
The Sabbath had come & gone. The crucifixion, though still fresh on their minds, was also somehow becoming a distant memory. Reality & their human senses screamed that their worst nightmare had indeed unfolded, yet internally, they were still trying to come to terms with it all. The disciples, including Thomas, were once again crowded together in a locked room for fear of the Jewish leaders. With hushed breathing & muted whispers, an ominous tone filled the air, & anxiety pierced their hearts. Was this to be the new normal without their fearless, other-worldly leader?
Suddenly, they took notice of a new face in the room. But how? The doors were locked, & they had counted heads & come to a certain number, but now there appeared to be one more? As if they weren’t already questioning everything, now their overall sanity seemed to be on the line – that was, until he started speaking. “Peace be with you!” No one moved or blinked, their eyes glued to Jesus making a bee-line for Thomas – almost as if He had come there just for him. He began to stretch out His hands & point to marks in His flesh that were the perfect size & shape for nails to fit into. He then revealed a gash in His side that anyone would recognize was left by a spear. With eyes looking ever so intently, Jesus spoke to Thomas like he was the only one in the room: “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand & put it into my side. Stop doubting & believe.” In that moment, Thomas’ doubts died – for only God could know the exact desires of his heart for him to believe.
JESUS IS ALIVE! No words of Jesus echo more on Resurrection Sunday than “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” As all of human history culminates to this point, a light bulb turns on in our heads: God’s ways are far superior. Today, recall the many instances we have previously latched on to doubt just as Thomas did. Remember to “Be strong and courageous:..the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The implications of this climatic event communicates a need for a renewed perspective. A call to see the world in a different light than before. Wherever you are right now, in a “Be still, and know that I am God” fashion, submissively recite this prayer:
“Heavenly Father, I praise you. I thank you for sending your Son to die for my sins. Your Almighty power raised Him from the dead as a perfect, once and for all sacrifice. In Jesus I have a Lord, Victor, Redeemer, Overcomer, and Friend.
Lord, I thank You for the awesome reality of YOU living today and living within me. As I exit my home, I pray my eyes are opened to see the world in the light You do. May I walk boldly in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up as a sacrifice for all who would come to Him.”
As you and your family gather for Resurrection Sunday lunch, discuss Jesus as the Victorious King. The resurrection is indicative of NEW LIFE. We need not to cling on to shame, guilt, doubt, stress, and brokenness, among others. What does the “new creation” in 2 Corinthians 5:17 proclaim to you?
This past Sunday night at our Holy Week Experience, we gathered as a church to remember and reflect on the moments leading up to the cross. We broke bread together as an act of communion, just like Jesus and the disciples did centuries ago. It was truly a special night worshiping our victorious King and we are excited to let you know it is now available to watch below