This first week of Lent I thought I would begin a seven-week series on the week that changed the world. The last week of Jesus’ life is covered in detail in the four Gospels. Half of John’s gospel covers Thursday through Sunday, highlighting the significance of this world- changing week. For several years I have used the season of Lent to reflect on these last seven days of Jesus’ life on earth and wanted to share some of these reflections with you.
The first day of Holy Week began with Palm Sunday. What a day it was. I love the thought of Palm Sunday. It was the day that the people in Jerusalem seemed to get it right. The people were hailing Jesus as King, but they didn’t totally grasp that He was more than an earthly King. Not even the disciples could fully take in Who He was. John explains, “At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him” (John 12:16).
The crowds knew that He was something great, but they didn’t know Who He really was either. They called Him a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee (Matthew 21:11). They sang praise to Him; they laid their clothes and palm branches for Him to walk over; they followed Him; they were healed by Him; but they didn’t know Him. Some of them were in the same crowd that was easily persuaded to shout “Crucify Him!,” only five days later.
I love the way Jesus told the disciples to get the donkey for His entry into Jerusalem. It is the way He often directs my life. It was an odd request, as He told the disciples to go to a certain village where they would find a certain colt (never ridden, as Zechariah 9:9 prophesied). He instructed them just to go up and untie the colt without asking permission. They weren’t to ask permission, but if they were asked about it, they were to say that the Lord needed it and would send it back when He was done. Their job was obedience. It didn’t have to make sense. When Jesus gives us instructions, we don’t have to concern ourselves with the results, we need to focus on obedience. Like the disciples, we don’t need to question the task; rather, faithfully obey.
Like the rest of the week, there were many ironies. The Pharisees’ statement about him in John 12:19 is an example when they said, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!,” little did they realize that following Jesus would get us where we could never get ourselves. The Pharisees tried to tell Jesus what to do by saying that He should make the crowd stop praising Him as King, but Jesus told them that if they were quiet the stones would cry out (Luke 19:40).
It was a day for rejoicing among the crowds, but sorrow for Jesus as He knew they really didn’t get it. He wept and said about them, “If you, even you, had only known on this day would you bring your peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42).
You can spend this first week of Lent meditating on the first day of Holy Week found in all four gospels. Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19 contain the events of Palm Sunday. Open your heart, mind, and spirit to God’s personal message to you this week.
Note: I’ve written Holy Week Devotions which are available at http://www.pcbc.org/holyweekdevotions if you would like to think about what Jesus did each day of Holy Week. May you have a blessed Holy Week!