Core scripture: “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” (Romans 6:9)
Message: I smile at my blog from last week compared to this week. Although we certainly can learn a few fun things from Kansas Basketball, I am pretty sure those lessons pale in comparison to the lessons we learn from Jesus Christ. Sorry, no disrespect to you Bill Self, but … yeah, I digress.
From the triumphant entry to the last supper to Gethsemane to Calvary to the empty grave. Five memorable scenes wrapped into one powerful story. Do you ever reflect on them? Do you ever pull truth from them, applying them to your life? It is time to break them down and uncover hidden meaning that can propel us through this holy week we celebrate Easter.
- The Triumphant Entry: Most rulers would use this moment to display their authority and power. Not Jesus. He chose to fulfill the prophecy of riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Completely humble and obedient. He allowed the crowds to praise Him. Not himself. What a beautiful lesson! And there was no better way to act out Proverbs 27:2 which aptly states, “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth— a stranger, not your own lips.” What about you? What do you do when pride swells inside you? Do you bring glory to yourself or to God? Humility should rule our hearts.
- The Last Supper: His disciples had just had a debate over who was the greatest. If Muhammad Ali was there, I am sure he would have been pretty fired up. Jesus could have just rebuked them with a tongue lashing, but He did something even better. He demonstrated servant leadership. He washed His disciples’ feet. Every one of them. Even the man who would deny Him and the man who would betray Him. Jesus challenged His followers, saying, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you” (John 15:13). He wasn’t just speaking to them. He was speaking to all His followers. What about you? Do you serve? In His name, do you empty yourself out?
- Gethsemane: Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. That was made clear when He prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). It takes guts to pray a prayer like that. Three times as a matter of fact. Not my will but yours. Jesus stayed up all night praying, trying to discover what God really wanted Him to do. And when the answer came, He obeyed. What about you? Do you go places you’d rather not go? Or do you stay in your comfort zone? What is the Lord calling you to do today? Get off your keester and obey.
- Calvary: One of my favorite one-liners from Christ comes when He says, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Imagine that scene. There He is on the cross, breathing His last breaths. He has been beaten, mocked, scourged, and finally nailed to the cross by the ruthless Roman soldiers. And He asks God to forgive them? How? Why? Because of His unconditional love for mankind. I feel like this is a line I could say this time of year when my students have those goofy, squirrely days! But seriously, we can take those moments during 4th quarter and be reminded of Jesus’ heartfelt compassion. Be that compassion this week!
- The Empty Grave: On that first Easter Sunday, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary discovered the empty tomb. They immediately spread the word to John and Peter, who had to run to find out. John writes, “Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first” (John 20:4). Can you feel their excitement? I don’t imagine they were running to the tomb; I imagine it was a full dead-on sprint! What about you? How excited are you to tell others about what Jesus did for you? Are you running to tell others, or are you selfishly keeping that to yourself?
This week of Easter changed mankind forever. How lucky are we that we get to celebrate it this weekend! Do me a favor though. Celebrate Easter for the right reasons. I mean, chocolate eggs and bunnies are cool and everything, but sometimes they overshadow the real meaning. Take hold of the Easter story and share it with someone special. It is indeed a story worth telling!
Challenge: What lessons do you learn from the last week of Jesus’ life? Think about them. Focus your heart on them. Make changes in your life if needed. One of the most beautiful things we can celebrate this week of Easter is grace and forgiveness. Whatever sins we have committed are wiped clean. Every day is a fresh start!
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Praise God for what Jesus did for us on the cross over 2000 years ago!
- Pray that the lessons He taught us will sink deep in our hearts as we reflect on them this week.
- Pray that Sunday will be a reason to celebrate the day that changed history—forever.
Video application: I want to share with you a video I discovered a few years ago that I always watch this time of year. It is a brutally honest reminder of what He endured for mankind. My favorite part? The closure of the video when he answers the question of what Jesus’ sacrifice means to you.
Just for fun: My 8th grade boys were in rare form last Wednesday night at youth group. Oh yeah, I kinda had to crack the whip a bit on them when one boy got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing through the heart of the lesson. I called him out. He pulled his sweatshirt up over his face, cracking up beneath. And then upon leaving, he walked up to me shyly, fished a wadded-up dollar bill from his pocket, and handed it to me. He smiled and left, leaving me wondering what the heck just happened.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for sending your Son to die for us. May the way He lived be the compass for the way we live. Amen.