This week I have experienced Holy Week like never before. As a child that grew up in the church, I remember the Easter egg hunts, the treats that were left for me on Sunday morning, the matching dress and shoes that I would wear with my sister, and the overflow of the pews with the organ pipes bursting with beautiful sounds of Heaven REJOICING. It was always a celebration in my memory, but as I have matured in my faith there is a growing understanding of what Holy Week truly represents.
Before we can REJOICE we must understand the SORROW.
“Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
He was one of the 12! He was one of Jesus’ friends. He walked with him, he did life with him, he saw him perform miracle after miracle, He KNEW who He was, yet due to falling into the trap of greed sold him out for the price of a slave. It brings tears to the surface as I recall Jesus’s words at The Last Supper, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Matthew 26:20 Can you imagine knowing that you were going to be betrayed by one of your intimate friends? Jesus KNEW, and even when Judas came with a kiss to point the large crowd that followed him with swords and clubs to the Messiah he greeted him with, “FRIEND, do what you came for. ” Matthew 26:50
Judas is not the only one that failed Him. Peter would go on to deny him three times. Peter was one of Jesus’s BEST friends, like a brother, and yet when confronted as being with Jesus of Galilee he denied even knowing him. TEARS! Jesus tells His disciples at The Last Supper, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” Matthew 26:31
He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He took Peter and two sons of Zebedee with him. He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:38 This is where he prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 After crying out to His Father with tears of blood he returned to find the men sleeping. They could not even stay awake to keep watch over him. TEARS! Jesus goes on to warn Peter, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:41 Even in Jesus’s darkest hour he is still teaching Peter the importance of keeping watch and praying. Yet Peter continued to fall asleep. Jesus was alone when he faced trial and persecution.He went out of obedience of the will of The Father and out of a deep love for you and me.
So how has this Holy Week been different for me than years past? I have spent it with Him each morning with a very heavy heart for my own sin and failures knowing that He had to stand alone because of me. I am Judas, I am Peter. I am guilty before a loving God that suffered the pain of nails being driven through his wrist and ankles to hang on a hollow tree shaped as a cross. It grieves me to know that I could cause someone that much pain, yet He did it because He loves me. This was all part of God’s plan of redeeming His broken children to put us back in a right relationship with Him. It truly overwhelms me.
Today over 2,000 years ago was the night He was betrayed, Holy Thursday. Sit alone with Him today and think about His sorrow He faced for you. Tomorrow most of us have a day off from work and school in remembrance of Good Friday, the day Christ died on the cross. Take time with Him tomorrow to tell Him you love him and are beyond thankful for his sacrifice. I believe that in order to truly appreciate the amazing HOPE of the CROSS, the empty tomb, we must understand the weight and sorrow of our sin. If we truly focus on our sin alone, we have no time to waste pointing out the flaws in others. Jesus cares deeply about us being set free from our sin. He wants us to stay alert and keep watch for the many temptations that we face. Remember, the enemy will stop at nothing to cause us to stumble. “The way to overcome temptation is to keep watch and pray. Watching means being aware of the possibilities of temptation, sensitive to the subtleties, and spiritually equipped to fight it. Because temptation strikes where we are most vulnerable, we can’t resist it alone. Prayer is essential because God’s strength can shore up our defenses and defeat Satan’s power.” Footnote to Matthew 26:40,41
Let’s not fall asleep anymore! Let’s wake up and keep watch and pray!
Easter IS coming! Sunday, we DO have a REASON to CELEBRATE and REJOICE. The grave is empty. From death He AROSE! Death has lost it’s sting, our Resurrected King has rendered it defeated. Find a church to visit and celebrate the GOOD NEWS. If you live in the San Antonio Area, I invite you join me on the square of downtown Boerne at 9:30a. It will be a beautiful celebration. We are a BLESSED people. We have a God that LOVES and FORGIVES. We are forgiven and are set FREE by our REDEEMER and FRIEND! #gloryup #truth #goodnews
Enjoy listening to my favorite Easter SONG!