Today, I want to begin preparing our hearts for Easter by looking at some of the important events that occurred during the last week of Jesus’ life.
Monday. The gospel of Mark describes the scene as Jesus entered Jerusalem in preparation for the Jewish Passover (Mark 11:8-10). The enthusiastic crowd that welcomed Jesus that day believed him to be the long awaited Messianic King (see Daniel 9:24-27, and the charts found at the bottom of the note-taking sheet), come to inaugurate his kingdom. But the Jewish leaders didn’t like it. They felt threatened by Jesus’ growing popularity.
The next day, Tuesday, Jesus entered the Jewish temple and was disturbed to find it being used as a marketplace. There were buyers and sellers everywhere. He was so upset he began overturning the vender’s tables, sending their merchandise sprawling across the floor. He literally kicked the merchants out of the temple!
On Wednesday Jesus continued teaching in the temple and the Jewish leaders took counsel as to how they might publicly discredit him. They attacked Jesus personally, politically and theologically. But Jesus dismantled all their arguments, and he did so is such a way that even they marveled at his answers! Matthew’s gospel tells us, “When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion” (Matthew 26:1-2). The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead, but because of his popularity with the masses, they decided to delay his arrest until after the Passover Festival. But as we just saw, Jesus just informed his disciples that he would be crucified on Passover Friday. Why Friday? Well, because Jesus is the fulfillment of what the original Passover pointed to. Jesus was the real Passover Lamb (John 1:29).
The original Passover was a foreshadowing that one day God would send Jesus, the Lamb of God, as a sacrifice to atone for the guilt of man’s sin. To receive that forgiveness, we must place our trust in Jesus as our Savior. Herein lies the dilemma. The Jewish leaders wanted to arrest Jesus after the Passover for fear of the crowds. Thus, their timetable didn’t line up with God’s timetable. But since God is in control of human history, he works all things after the counsel of his will. Enter Judas (Luke 22:3-6). God used the occasion of Judas’ betrayal to speed up the Jewish leadership’s timeline to meet His timeline. Why Judas did what he did has been the object of great speculation. The Biblical text doesn’t tell us explicitly why Judas did what he did. Perhaps Jesus’ description of Judas tells us all that we need to know. He said simply, “Judas is of the devil” (John 6:70).
On Thursday Jesus instructs his disciples to go and prepare the Passover meal. At sunset, blasts from the silver trumpets at the temple signaled to all of Jerusalem that Passover had arrived. That hour found Jesus and the disciples reclining at the table that had been prepared for this occasion. While at the table, Jesus said to his disciples, “I have been eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). Jesus knew what was about to happen. He knew that he was about to endure a horrible death. He knew that the guilt of mankind’s sin was about to be placed on his soul.
But while Christ was selflessly anticipating the blessings he would bring mankind through his sacrifice, the disciples were selfishly striving for positions of honor at the table (Luke 22:24). In fact, the disciples had filed into the room looking for someone to wash their feet. That is what you did in that day before a meal. But there was no servant present to assume that role. You know the mindset they had coming into this meal. They were thinking, “Which one of us is the greatest?” Jesus, after waiting in vain for someone to assume the role of a servant, assumed that position himself (John 13:3-5). By washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus conveyed a powerful lesson (John 13:12-20). Jesus was their Master. He had every right to command their service. Instead, He served them! He gave them an example of what true Christian servanthood looks like. He wanted the disciples to become servant-leaders. We are never more like Jesus than when we serve.
Are you following Christ’s example of servanthood? It is one thing to say, “I believe in servant leadership.” It is quite another to live it out day by day. That was Jesus’ point when he said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them (John 17:20).
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
Are you becoming a servant—like Jeus? The “Digging Deeper” section of Talking Points, Walking Points – open and download from the above link – walks you through seven key questions which will help you evaluate your progress.