The days just prior to Jesus' last physical Passover & death are incredibly instructive to us on what His focus was and what our focus should be... Some details can't be pinned down exactly to specific days for certain, but with each day, we can still draw lessons to meditate on as we prepare to take part in the annual Passover ceremony He instituted. Pls. Note: Addt’l msgs given in the SF Bay Area congregation may be searched by date, presenter name &/or title at https://www.ucg.org/sermons/all?group=San%20Francisco%20Bay%20Area,%20CA
Brethren, there is so very much we can talk about as we approach the richness of spring Holy Days and especially the Passover… and to date we’ve had some wonderful messages on the importance of discerning the body; spiritual preparation; examining ourselves and how our Passover is taking us from captives to be kings… well today I am excited to share some wonderful content from a 5 year old UCG blog posted by Mr. Mitchell Moss of Nashville, TN a 2010 ABC who is content editor for Beyond Today as well as for Compass Check magazine. He also designs and lays out Beyond Today booklets and Compass Check, writes articles for web and print as well as short film scripts, and photographs portraits, events and TV shoots.
The S.P.S. and Title of the message is…
~ Our Alignment with Christ’s Pre-Passover Focus. ~
<< mention hand out >>
Let’s count down the 10 days leading up to Passover by reading what Jesus did on those days in the final Passover of His life; the 10 days leading up to His death. Some details can’t be pinned down exactly to specific days for certain, but with each day, we can draw still draw lessons to meditate on as we prepare to take part in the Passover ceremony.
Let’s begin with some context to set the scene for the final 10 days of Christ’s life. In John 11 is the story of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. He became sick, and his sisters Mary and Martha called for Jesus to come heal him. But Christ stayed away purposefully so that He could do an amazing miracle and raise Lazarus from the dead, which He did (John 11:43-44 John 11:43-44 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go.
American King James Version×). News of this spread far and wide, giving Jesus more credibility, and thereby threatening the authority of the religious leaders of the day. So from then on, they began plotting to kill Him (John 11:53 John 11:53Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
American King James Version×), and Jesus left and went to Ephraim, a town many miles away to hide out (John 11:54 John 11:54Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went there to a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
American King James Version×). He knew His time was drawing near, so no doubt He wanted to make sure they didn’t get ahold of Him and kill Him too early.
P-10: From Ephraim, where it’s uncertain how long He stayed, Jesus left with His 12 disciples to go to Jerusalem for the upcoming Passover (Matthew 20:17 Matthew 20:17And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said to them,
American King James Version×). At a certain point along the way, the mother of James and John kneeled down in front of Jesus and said, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21 Matthew 20:21And he said to her, What will you? She said to him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on your right hand, and the other on the left, in your kingdom.
American King James Version×).
Jesus’ response is the point to meditate on here:
“But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ So He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.’
And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many’ ” (Matthew 20:22-28 Matthew 20:22-28 22 But Jesus answered and said, You know not what you ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say to him, We are able.
23 And he said to them, You shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not my to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brothers.
25 But Jesus called them to him, and said, You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority on them.
26 But it shall not be so among you: but whoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27 And whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
American King James Version×).
Jesus didn’t come to be served, but to serve. That’s the lesson to think about here. In your different roles—at work, at school, at home, in your family—do you take on the role of a servant? Sometimes serving others can be small gestures, like opening the door for someone on your way inside; or it can be larger, like sacrificing something you really want in order to do something better for someone you love. In every role you have, in every corner of your life, in every moment of every day, keep in mind to be a servant; to be someone who sacrifices your own time and needs to help others and lift them up.
P-10 Meditation Focus: Matthew 20:26 Matthew 20:26But it shall not be so among you: but whoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
American King James Version×- “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.”
P-9: On His way from Ephraim to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped in Jericho, which is on the route between the two towns. In Jericho, he meets a man named Zacchaeus, and the story of what happens next will provide our point for meditation (Luke 19:2-10 Luke 19:2-10 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at your house.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9 And Jesus said to him, This day is salvation come to this house, as much as he also is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
American King James Version×):
Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
The people grumbled because the Jews had all these rules in place keeping them from associating with certain people; namely non-Jews and people they deemed “sinners.” Tax collectors were among those, because of the way the tax system was set up in the Roman Empire. Basically, Rome hired independent contractors of sorts to collect taxes, and as long as the correct amount was sent along up the chain, they didn’t care how much the tax collectors took from the people.
This setup lent itself to a certain degree of corruption, and tax collectors were known for lining their own pockets by collecting more than they sent on to Rome.
So this man Zacchaeus had perhaps lined his pockets to a degree, but here in this story it shows that He comes to repentance.
Jesus recognized that repentant attitude and offered salvation to him and his household. In the midst of His followers and the crowds of Jews complaining about His associating with a sinner like Zacchaeus, Christ explained that His mission was to find and save those who were lost.
In his previous teachings, He had made a similar point before. In Luke 15, Jesus gave the parable of the woman who lost her coin, the man who lost one sheep and the prodigal son. In all three stories, the point He makes is, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10 Luke 15:10Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
American King James Version×).
Zacchaeus, a man of Israelite descent, a tax collector, and like all of us, a sinner, came to recognize his sins. Christ didn’t just meet Him on the road and offer salvation, He stayed at His house in spite of popular protest. And He told everyone gathered “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
If Christ were physically alive today and were to stop at our house, would people be asking themselves (or asking each other), “Doesn’t Jesus know what they’ve done? Doesn’t He know their sins?” Whatever skeletons we may have in our closet and whatever sins we struggle to overcome, we can take comfort that Christ is seeking us out in order to save what is lost. It’s never too late to turn to God, ask for His forgiveness and allow His sacrifice to cover our sins.
P-9 Meditation Focus: Luke 19:10 Luke 19:10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
American King James Version×- “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Are you sometimes lost? Jesus will seek you out and save you.
P-8: Jesus left Jericho after having stayed there at the house of Zacchaeus. Along the road, two blind men cry out for Jesus, though the crowd following tries to quiet them. There are two accounts of this story, one in Matthew 20:29-34 Matthew 20:29-34 29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, you son of David.
31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, you son of David.
32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will you that I shall do to you?
33 They say to him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
American King James Version×, and the other in Mark 10:46-52 Mark 10:46-52 46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, You son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying to him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calls you. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said to him, What will you that I should do to you? The blind man said to him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has made you whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
American King James Version×, which gives a bit more detail about one of the two blind men.
Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” 50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. 51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
Jesus asked Bartimaeus “What do you want me to do for you?” There’s a small lesson here in that God knows what we need before we ask, but He still wants us to ask Him and seek His will. “Ask and you shall receive” is a saying Jesus made more than once and in different circumstances (Matthew 21:22 Matthew 21:22And all things, whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.
American King James Version×, 1 John 3:22 1 John 3:22And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
American King James Version×). One such time, He made that point by saying “What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? … How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11 Matthew 7:11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
American King James Version×).
When Bartimaeus did ask for his sight, Jesus detected that he had the faith to be healed. He had compassion on him and gave him sight, and Bartimaeus became a follower of Christ that day.
P-8 Meditation Focus: Mark 10:52 Mark 10:52And Jesus said to him, Go your way; your faith has made you whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
American King James Version×- “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” God desires to give us good gifts. We should ask God and have faith in Him to give. And we should do so not just for ourselves, but for others as well. The prayer of faith will raise up the sick.
P-7: Jesus continued making His way toward Jerusalem and arrived in Bethany, which is two miles east of Jerusalem. The family of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, gives a dinner in honor of Jesus. At some point during the dinner, Mary makes a memorable gesture. John 12:1-3 John 12:1-3 1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.
2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.
American King James Version×tells what happened:
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Mary gave this expensive perfume in service of Christ while He was with them. Despite protests from Judas, who made an outward gesture of wanting to do good (but who was in fact selfishly lining his own pockets with the money he was given charge of), Jesus commends her for her attitude of service to Him.
The timing of this event is named specifically here as being six days away from Passover, but an almost identical event happens in Mark 14:1-9 Mark 14:1-9 1 After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.
3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she broke the box, and poured it on his head.
4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble you her? she has worked a good work on me.
7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you will you may do them good: but me you have not always.
8 She has done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
9 Truly I say to you, Wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
American King James Version×. In that account, it’s the same people, the same events, the same reactions, the exact same lesson from Christ. Some believe it was two separate events, but it’s also possible that this story is the same events, written as an inset within the chronological story flow of Mark 14—an aside that Mark remembered to write in after he had gotten a bit too far to put it where it belongs. Whichever is the case, we can still draw good lessons for our spiritual benefit.
The point for meditation here comes from the story in Mark; in Jesus’ reply to those who criticized her for what she did:
“Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-8 Mark 14:6-8 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble you her? she has worked a good work on me.
7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you will you may do them good: but me you have not always.
8 She has done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
American King James Version×, emphasis added).
Jesus praised Mary for doing what she could. It didn’t say she did more than she could—she couldn’t stop His execution, she didn’t do some great and mighty work—but she played her role. She anointed Him with oil for His burial. In our trials throughout the year and specifically before Passover, we should do what’s within our power. We can’t beat ourselves up for things that we can’t do—healing the sick or solving all our friends’ problems or resolving conflict all on our own. But we can’t shy away from doing those things we can do and playing our role in both our own lives and those of our friends and family.
P-7 Meditation Focus: Mark 14:8 Mark 14:8She has done what she could: she is come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
American King James Version×- “She has done what she could.” Seize the moment. Do what you can while you can.
This year’s (2019) timing from today… P-6 (Today 4/13 Sabbath): When Jesus comes into Jerusalem from Bethany the day after having His feet and head anointed by Mary, the crowds gather and celebrate Him. John 12:12-16 John 12:12-16 12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord.
14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written,
15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, your King comes, sitting on an ass’s colt.
16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things to him.
American King James Version×tells the story succinctly, but Luke 19:29-44 Luke 19:29-44 29 And it came to pass, when he was come near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30 Saying, Go you into the village over against you; in the which at your entering you shall find a colt tied, where on yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him here. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do you loose him? thus shall you say to him, Because the Lord has need of him. 32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said to them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said to them, Why loose you the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord has need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments on the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. 37 And when he was come near, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38 Saying, Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. 39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said to him, Master, rebuke your disciples. 40 And he answered and said to them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. 41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes. 43 For the days shall come on you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side, 44 And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.
American King James Version×has more detail:
And it came to pass, when He came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 “And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”
32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.”
35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. 37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:” ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Jesus’ weeping here is a foreshadowing of 70 A.D., when the army of Rome surrounded Jerusalem and sacked the city. He wept that they did not know what would bring them peace—and why didn’t they know? Because they did not recognize the time of God’s coming to them. As the New Living Translation puts it, “because you have rejected the opportunity God offered you.”
Do we recognize God’s coming to us? Do we hear His still, small voice in the midst of the whirlwind of life? Do we understand the depth and meaning of the peace that only God can give us through Christ living in us? Do we take the opportunity God offers us to live a life of peace through His Holy Spirit?
P-6 Meditation Focus: Luke 19:42-44 Luke 19:42-44 42 Saying, If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes.
43 For the days shall come on you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side,
44 And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone on another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.
American King James Version×- “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace… [but] you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Pay attention to God’s coming to you. Listen to His still, small voice. Take His opportunity for a life of peace.
P-5 (4/14 Sunday): After having gone into Jerusalem in the Triumphant Entry, Jesus went back to Bethany to stay the night and in the morning (5 days until Passover), came back into the city. Mark 11:12-19 Mark 11:12-19 12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14 And Jesus answered and said to it, No man eat fruit of you hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
17 And he taught, saying to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but you have made it a den of thieves.
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
American King James Version×has the story:
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.
When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.
15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city.
Not only were people buying and selling in the temple, but people were also using the temple as a shortcut. In order to get from one side of the city to the other to sell in the marketplace, going through the temple court was a shortcut—and in verse 16, that’s what Jesus is stopping people from doing.
Do we hold the Church—the Body of Christ, the assembly of God, the pillar and ground of the truth—in high esteem as we should? God’s temple is now the spiritual body of believers called the Church—it’s a place of honor, and a place of prayer for all those whom God calls. Do we figuratively use it as a shortcut? Do we think of it as the social gathering place we make plans with our friends at? Or do we keep the Sabbath in order to earn salvation? Are we using the Church as a physical means of obedience in order to get blessings?
P-5 Meditation Focus: Mark 11:17 Mark 11:17And he taught, saying to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but you have made it a den of thieves.
American King James Version×- “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Do we take shortcuts through the Church? Are we seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Or are we sometimes not treating this time and this place with proper respect?
P-4 (4/15 Monday):: Going back into Jerusalem from Bethany, Jesus and His disciples ran across the fig tree He had cursed the day before. Mark 11:21 Mark 11:21And Peter calling to remembrance said to him, Master, behold, the fig tree which you cursed is withered away.
American King James Version×explains how the disciples saw the withered fig tree and Jesus made a lesson out of it about having faith.
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
The parallel in Matthew 21:19 Matthew 21:19And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said to it, Let no fruit grow on you henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
American King James Version×compresses the details, making it seem like the disciples reacted immediately all at once when Jesus cursed the fig tree, but the word “immediately” can also be translated as “presently,” which would work with the way it’s chronologically laid out in Mark 11.
Anyway, they head into Jerusalem. It was 4 days until Passover, and in that year, it was the Sabbath. He went into the temple for a long day of preaching. Matthew 21:23-23 Matthew 21:23-23 23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority do you these things? and who gave you this authority?
American King James Version×:39 retells his long day of preaching in the temple. In Matthew 24, as He leaves the temple, He starts talking to His disciples in a private group, and when they follow up with a question about the sign of His coming, He launches into the Olivet Prophecy, and giving parables to explain His coming. Matthew 25:31-46 Matthew 25:31-46 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? 38 When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? 39 Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? 40 And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. 41 Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
American King James Version×is the parable we’ll focus in on—the parable of the sheep and the goats:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
As we go into Passover, think about the ways we lay down our lives for each other. Whether in big, dramatic gestures of kindness or in small, subtle or even anonymous ways; how much do we pray for our Church brethren, how much do we ask after their well-being to know how to serve them, how much do we give them of our time and attention?
P-4 Meditation Focus: Matthew 25:40 Matthew 25:40And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
American King James Version×- “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
P-3 (4/16 Tuesday): Instead of going back to Bethany to stay the night after the lengthy preaching and Olivet Prophecy, Jesus probably stayed on the Mount of Olives overnight. The next day is recorded in Matthew 26:1-5 Matthew 26:1-5 1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples,
2 You know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.
3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, to the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him.
5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.
American King James Version×, Mark 14:1-2 Mark 14:1-2 1 After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. 2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.
American King James Version×and 10-11, and Luke 22:1-6 Luke 22:1-6 1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. 3 Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 4 And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of the multitude.
American King James Version×, where we will read what happened:
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. 4 So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.
Jesus knew from the beginning of His ministry, when He called Judas to be a disciple, that he would be the one to betray Him. Sadly, it played out that way, and Judas’ willpower crumbled under Satan’s influence.
We’ve got to make sure that we are resisting Satan’s influence. Do we ever fool ourselves into thinking “It’s just you and me, God,” oblivious to the ways we’re actually warring against Him? Are there aspects of our life that we allow not to be in full obedience to Him? Nobody thinks to themselves, “I could see myself betraying Jesus like Judas did.” Nobody. But we don’t have to outrageously flaunting unrighteousness to still have sin—by Satan’s influence—take hold in our life.
Examine yourself, and think deeply on those aspects of life that you have not yet laid hold of and made captive of God’s complete influence.
P-3 Meditation Focus: Luke 22:3 Luke 22:3Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
American King James Version×- “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.” Stand firm against the devil, and if we resist him, he will flee from us.
P-2 (4/17 Wednesday): It isn’t clear or specific what happened on this day, two days leading up to Jesus’ final Passover, from the Bible. That being said, there is an event that could have possibly taken place on this day, and which we can draw a lesson from nonetheless. John 12:20-32 John 12:20-32 20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
22 Philip comes and tells Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it stays alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit.
25 He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.
26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.
27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I to this hour.
28 Father, glorify your name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spoke to him.
30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.
American King James Version×has the first part of the story, and specifically John 12:27-32 John 12:27-32 27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. 29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spoke to him. 30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.
American King James Version×is what we will read:
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
First thing to remark upon: God the Father spoke from Heaven. People heard something like thunder, others figured it was an angel (it seems only Jesus heard it for what it was and could understand it), and Jesus explained that the voice was for their sake.
Anyway, so then Jesus says that if He is lifted up (a play on words to both reference the method by which He would die—crucifixion—and the fact that He would be raised to life and sit at God’s right hand forever), He will draw all people to Himself.
He drove home the point here that His sacrifice would cover all of humanity—not just the Jews, not just the descendants of Abraham—but everybody in their time. Now is the time for those He calls firstfruits, and eventually, it will be open to be understood for everybody who’s ever lived. Those who live through the Great Tribulation into the Millennial reign of Christ when He returns will have their eyes opened then. The vast majority of human kind who have lived and died over the millennia, at the end of that period (Revelation 20:11-15 Revelation 20:11-15 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
American King James Version×, Daniel 12:2 Daniel 12:2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
American King James Version×).
It’s important to remember this and to keep it firmly in our heart at all times. It’s easy to separate ourselves—“us” and “them.” We want to remain unspotted from “the world,” yes, but we also must not forget that “the world” is made up of people who—just like you and I—have sinned and need God’s intervention in their life. We must not forget that it’s people from “the world” whom God calls into His glorious way of life! We must strive to be a tool in God’s hand, usable to bring about those peoples’ calling if that’s God’s will. Be a light. Shine bright. Don’t withdraw into a condemnatory attitude of superiority and derision.
P-2 Meditation Focus: John 12:32 John 12:32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.
American King James Version×- “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
P-1 (4/18 Thursday): It’s the last day before Passover, which begins at sundown tonight. In His day, Jesus, knowing that His hour had come, and that He would be delivered into the hands of the Romans to be killed, gave His disciples the lasting, unforgettable ceremony of the New Covenant Passover. The whole story of what happened during the supper He had with His disciples goes from John 13-18, but the first sentence of John 13 is what we will focus on:
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
Before humans existed, before the Earth was formed, before the physical universe was created, God had a plan. It was the plan to end all plans: He would create physical beings who would inhabit a physical realm and live finite, physical lives of infinite smallness in comparison to His own limitless eternity. The purpose of creating them would be to teach them the right way to live and give them eternal life to live with Him. God is a family of two beings (the Father and Jesus Christ) of supreme good and light. As the Creator of everything, He has set the rules that govern everything—the laws of physics, the laws of biology, the laws of the invisible spirit realm. Being perfect, good, full of light, and fully comprehending what eternity means, He made humans and encouraged them to seek to live by the same set of rules He Himself exists by—rules of love. He created humans to love each other, serve each other, and in so doing build character that would last for an eternity.
But He created them with a will to choose, and the presence of Satan swayed the first humans to choose a path in the wrong direction—away from God. It was a tragedy, but one that didn’t catch God off-guard. Having infinite wisdom and perfect clarity of understanding, God had enacted a plan in advance, knowing that they might make that wrong choice.
He gave mankind His laws to live by; laws of outgoing concern for others and of obedience to God. He set up a physical system to help physical humankind understand—a physical metaphor for the eternal and spiritual. In that system, breaking one of His laws meant blood had to be spilled as restitution. And in one of the most dramatic events of the Old Testament—Passover—He had His people kill an unblemished lamb in order to signify that they were His; that they were obedient to Him and were seeking to live by His ways. That yearly reminder was kept for generations until its meaning would come to be fulfilled.
So then, having stripped Himself of His eternity and living a perfect life for three decades as a physical human being, Jesus showed His disciples the full extent of His love for them, and for the world.
The next day, He would be slaughtered as the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover—the perfect Lamb, unblemished by the world; the One whose blood covered all sin forever.
No longer would His people slaughter physical animals as payment for breaking His perfect law. Instead, His sacrifice would cover it all—and allow for imperfect, physical human beings to be not just forgiven for sins, but to become eternal beings in the family of God.
So as the Passover comes at sundown, meditate deeply on the sacrifice that Jesus gave for our benefit. Without His life, without His shed blood, and without His resurrection to eternal life, we would be physical creatures living lives of an infinitely small significance. But by His life, we are redeemed from that.
P-1 Meditation Focus: John 13:1 John 13:1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end.
American King James Version×- “Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love” (New Living Translation).
<< again mention hand out – point out remaining days to Passover >>
<<Point out chart of 4 Passovers highlight Jesus’/Our Columns as time permits>>
In Closing… From The New Testament Passover Doctrinal Paper… Pg 18… The fact that Christ instituted a new ceremony to replace an ancient sacrifice is most important. Christ introduced new symbols and a new ceremony on the night at the beginning of the fourteenth of Abib (Nisan). This is the precedent for Christians. We will gather again this year on Thursday evening, over 1900 years later and recall the events of that evening. We gather on the same evening that Christ met with His disciples. We will be commemorating Christ as “our Passover.” Therefore, we follow His example and meet on the same evening that He did. Christ did not participate alone. He gathered with His disciples on the evening of the fourteenth. We should follow His example today. <<end quote>>
Additionally, we can be instructed on what Our Passover did and taught in the days leading up to this that we went through today… meditating, preparing and praying personally for…
~ Our Alignment with Christ’s Pre-Passover Focus. ~