Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Holy Week

"You will always have the poor among you, but I will not be here with you much longer.  She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial.  I assure you, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be talked about in her memory."  Matthew 26:11-13

We are putting aside our reading of Daniel this week, to celebrate Holy Week.  While non-Christians may see Christmas as the most important Christian holiday, the birth of Jesus means little without His death and resurrection at Easter.

I often hear myself say, "what a difference a year makes" usually in reference to my children's growth (physically, mentally, emotionally).  Sometimes the time frame is shorter or the circumstances are more abrupt.  The latest one is, "what a difference a coach can make".  Leadership is so influential in a group and can make a huge difference in both the group and the individuals within that group.
In Jesus' case, I'd say "what a difference a week makes".  He went from being welcomed with a parade of people showering him with adoration to a mob of people screaming for his blood.  Has there ever been a 180 degree political turn around inside of a week in all of history?  While the plot for his destruction had been brewing for some time, it was confined to the leading priests & religious leaders (Matthew 26:14-15; 59-68).  The town who praised him with waving palm branches on Sunday was demanding his death by Friday.  What a difference a week makes.  What a difference leadership can make.

But that's not what I want to focus on in this post.  What I find interesting, in light of being in the midst of reading Daniel, is that Jesus knew all of this was coming.  He knew his future.  I feel like we could do a few weeks on each of the times Jesus tells the disciples of his impending death.  We could talk about how he continued down the road that he knew would end on the cross.  We would definitely talk about his prayer in the garden on the night he was betrayed, "He went on  a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, 'My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.' " Matthew 26:39

As we have discussed the dreams both Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar had of the future, there was an overwhelming majority of our group who said they would not want to know the future.  Whether it was their own personal future or the future of our nation and the world.  And when we do want to know the future, it is more that we want to see that everything has a good ending, even if it means traveling through difficult times.  We seem to agree that we can endure suffering if we know there is a positive outcome for us or at least for our children.  

I often wonder what the disciples thought about Jesus' predictions of his death.  He so often spoke in parables and metaphors, did they truly understand what He was saying?  Were they too close to the action to see the bigger picture?  Did they feel secure in His popularity, ignoring the constant threat of the Jewish leaders?  Did they never guess that one of their own would betray Jesus, even after He told them, "The truth is, one of you will betray me.  One of you who is eating with me now will betray me."  Matthew 26: 21 & 23.

There is something I struggle with when it comes to "knowing the future".  If I knew the future, would I try to change it?  Is the future that is predicted set in stone or can it be changed?  We had this discussion in Daniel 4, when King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about his exile.  Once Daniel explains the dream, he then urges the King the changes his ways, in the hopes that this fate could be avoided.  If I knew there was something unsettling or traumatic in my future, would I try to avoid it?  Could it be avoided?

With Holy Week upon us, we are reminded what our future holds as children of God, followers of Jesus the Messiah: "Yes, it is as you say.  And in the future you will see me, the Son of Man, sitting at God's right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven." Matthew 26:64
"I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Matthew 28:18

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

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