Do you know what was happening on what many call “Maundy Thursday”? In the life of Jesus, the cross and tomb are now nearer than ever.
But this is no meaningless death – and no permanent tomb. But first, He prepares His disciples and then prepares Himself for the sacrifice of “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”
The Last SUPPER takes place in an upper room. The disciples are there, but thinking of a Passover meal. Jesus is thinking about THE Passover. THE sacrifice. “This bread is my body which is broken for you.” And then…”this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.” This makes little sense to the disciples at the moment – but after all is said and done, it comes rushing back to their minds and it’s crystal clear. Jesus IS the Lamb.
At the Last Supper they observe Him SERVE them. On His knees, Jesus washes their feet and gives them the command to love one another. They cannot fathom this kind of leadership – the kind that is humble, the kind that serves and loves. It’s so distinctly different from what they’ve seen before Jesus – but here He is telling them, “YOU do this.”
Then, the SURRENDER in the Garden of Gethsemane. Can you imagine sweating drops of blood? Can you grasp knowing the decision you were about to make would justify (or condemn) the sinfulness of mankind? Imagine knowing you were chosen to satisfy the WRATH of God on behalf of every person who ever existed. Jesus said, “Not My will, but Thy will be done.” Then, they came to take Him away.
Wednesday of Holy Week is often called the “Silent Day.” Two days before His crucifixion…the clock is ticking toward the tomb…and we find nearly nothing from Scripture about the activities of Jesus. However, if we look at what has already transpired, and what is about to happen, we can deduce that some critical things are happening.
Silence is what happens outwardly when people scheme and plan inwardly. Jesus was about to be betrayed by a kiss from Judas. He was about to be conspired against by the scribes and Pharisees, in conjunction with the Romans who occupied Jerusalem. While silence was taking place outwardly, hatred and resentment were building in the hearts of the residents of the city. Jesus will soon be lied about, beaten horribly and sentenced to death. He will be betrayed by one of his followers, denied by another three times. His followers will soon flee from his presence.
I sometimes wonder how Jesus could be so forgiving of those who hated and denied him so absolutely. Usually, I think about this when I am needing to forgive someone who wounds or betrays me. It happens to all of us at some time or another. What HE is going through on Wednesday identifies with what we sometimes go through. Is HIS forgiveness of those who plotted against him our inspiration for forgiving others? Because of what He is about to go through, we can forgive those who sin against us.
I believe silence also happens when people pray. We KNOW Jesus was a man of prayer. We KNOW He often went away to be alone. Two days before the day that will forever be known as the day of the redemption of sinful man – I have no doubt Jesus is praying. He’s burdened by what is about to happen. His character, integrity and physical health will be shredded to the max. He will bear the sin of mankind on His shoulders.
The Silent Day should remind us of the importance and the power of prayer. Whatever we must endure, we do it through prayer – just as He did. Prayer steals the will to carry out the tasks we’ve been assigned. He’s praying on Wednesday. Are you?
Have you ever contemplated the unfolding of the events of Holy Week? What was Jesus doing in days leading up to the Cross? What was happening around Him that impacted the incredible significance of this event of the crucifixion?
See the video here: Monday of Holy Week
Jesus seemed concerned about three things on Monday: 1) The failure of religion to bring men near to God. Calling the Pharisees “white-washed tombs” on the week leading up to Jesus being placed in a tomb is key. He’s reminding us that man can take any religion – even one established by God Himself – and turn it into a self-serving, prideful exercise that is more characterized by deadness than life. Is YOUR worship dead, or is it alive? Is it Christ-focused, or man-focused?
2) Jesus is also concerned about FRUIT in the lives of His followers. This is the day that Jesus curses the fig tree because it has no fruit on it. The disciples who saw this were perplexed by why Jesus did it – but His purpose is to point out distaste for fruitlessness. It’s an indictment on Israel and her rejection of Jesus Himself. Today, it stands as an indictment upon unfruitful believers in Christ. Look on the tree of your own life? Is there spiritual fruit? Should Jesus expect to see fruit in your life as He examines under the leaves – or are there “nothing but leaves”?
3) Jesus cleanses the temple on this day – a strong testimony of His heart for PURE WORSHIP and His authority to purify worship. It’s clear Jesus had a passion for pure worship and a passion for prayer. “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” Reconsider your worship this week in light of Jesus’ actions on Monday. Is it pure, or selfish? Is it about God, or about you?
On Monday, Jesus breaks down what is not worth keeping, and sets straight the path to the ultimate sacrifice – death on the Cross for mankind.
The church must UNITE in the focus of mission and the Gospel. This is an incredible priority of Jesus Himself (the Head of the Church) in His prayer found in John 17. I can’t get this prayer out of my mind – so I’m praying it with Him. And I’m praying more boldly and more loudly for this than ever before. And you should be, as well.
Why? Well, look around you. I don’t know where you live and worship, but as a church – none of us are the same as we were 10 years ago. We’re not the same leaders, we’re not the same church, we’re not in the same community. Truthfully, we’re not even in the same country. Everything has changed around us. Our culture is more divided, more racist, more hostile and more hate-filled than at any other time in recent memory.
And the church? For the most part, we’re still fooling around. If we’re just as broken and fragmented as the world, do we really think anyone cares what our message is? Or that we can make a difference? So Jesus prays, “…that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that you sent Me, and loved them…” John 17:22-23
Stop. Read those words again! Read that prayer one more time. HE wants US to be as united as GOD is. As a friend of mine once said, “Is there any disagreement among the Godhead?” Jesus prays for us to be one in that same way.
Rick Renner says that, “…unity comes when people are united in action and in passion for a common cause. Their shared goal is so strong that it removes hostilities, puts away disagreements, and gives previously divided people a reason to take their place alongside each other. When this occurs, different gifts, talents, and anointings become connected together, and the result is an amazing river of divine power that achieves the supernatural and accomplishes the impossible.” I agree.
Pentecost is proof of this. So much diversity, so much lack of focus and confusion – all brought together by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel. Those two things were happening at Pentecost. The Spirit and the Gospel.
How does this happen today? 1) God’s people learn to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 2) We learn to focus on the Gospel. That’s it. Those two huge divine priorities will take over the rest of our little agendas, but it will require a deep level of prayer, discipline and sacrifice.
I love the fact that I am called to pastor a church that is increasingly and incredibly diverse! I love looking around us and seeing people of every background, race, language (some 40 nationalities represented every week) at First Euless. It’s powerful to see how we put teams together for ministry, for the Gospel, for prayer – and they are as diverse as our community is. God is up to something huge.
But it counts for nothing if we’re not filled with the Spirit and focused on the Gospel.
And if we are filled and focused? That is the church united that Jesus is praying for. That is the church the world needs.
This is an anonymous guest blog from a friend who has seen God provide in a great way for a mission trip. He’s Faithful!
“I want to tell people what a great God we serve and how when He says He is going to provide He does. I only need $400 left to earn for my trip. The gifts of three people got me there. God gives bigger than we can ask or imagine.
I want to tell people the struggle in my soul that I can’t be that cool person who is going on a mission trip and blogs about it. I can’t have the cool go fund me account and get to give God all the glory, but that I know it’s okay, because that is only affirmation of man. And He still gets all the glory when I get on my face and thank Him.
I want to tell people how insanely overwhelmed I feel about this trip. How giddy I feel that God has called me to go to a place that I know will be hard in so many ways. I am giddy to be on the other side of the group that goes to the airport. Instead of writing the cards and praying over people, I am the one with the packed suitcase getting on the plane. It makes me want to jump for joy and cry all at the same time. Because this is so foreign to me that I just can’t understand it all.
I want to tell people how God has insanely blessed me by putting some of my most favorite people in the world on the same team. That He keeps affirming me and speaking to me and telling me to trust Him when it doesn’t make any sense.
I want to tell the people that keep freaking out about this trip to quit freaking out and just trust Him. That it’s really true that if God wants you to go He will provide every way. I trust that my visa will work out and that the money will come in because I know without a doubt the Lord has prompted me to go.
There is my garble for today. God is good and I just can’t stand not talking about it.”
And I say, “AMEN!”
My story is recurring, like a dream that never ends.
I often find myself in crowded places, like airports, sporting events, and on the extremely rare occasion – a mall. I drive on crowded highways next to people who are rushing in the same general physical direction I’m headed.
Problem is…most are headed in a very different direction spiritually. Most are lost, and I can’t tell them about life. I can’t stop the car next to me to share Christ on the side of the highway. I can’t interrupt people rushing toward their gate in the airport. I can’t stand on a stool in the mall and preach to crowds that run quickly the other way when someone actually does that. (I once experienced a subway ride in NYC, where a smelly man in a trench coat pulled out his Bible and started preaching loudly as the car emptied. That didn’t work out well.)
In my recurring story, the answer to the dilemma of how to share with the world who is unaware of a loving, saving Christ comes to me every time. For years, I had no answer to my burden. I just shared with those who’d let me share. But now I know the answer. In fact, this answer burns within me.
The answer is under our noses. It’s obvious if we’ll stop to look. It’s recorded in the Bible. It’s DOABLE.
The answer is: Train every person in our churches to share the Gospel confidently. Not just a few. Not just leaders. Everyone.
My story has a better ending today. That car next to me in a rush hour traffic jam? That guy will one day have a neighbor who is trained to share the Gospel, and who loves him enough to do it. Those people rushing to their gates in the airport? One day some co-worker or friend who has been equipped to share will lovingly tell them about Christ. The mall? Even they can have someone in their lives who has been equipped and challenged to share their faith.
“Can We Talk?” is not just about you. It’s not about church growth. It’s about the world – and our central mission in this world.
Want to know more? Go to www.firsteuless.com/canwetalk or click on the Resource button of this website.
Last week, I finished a “7” week series on prayer. We called it “7” because of the numerous references in the Bible connecting prayer and the number “7.”
Admittedly, preaching seven messages on prayer with a goal to have seven points each week was…strange. So I won’t do that again. HOWEVER, what a wealth of principles surfaced during these seven weeks. I’ve listed a few points (seven!).
1. When you see great things happening, they are the tip of the iceberg. PRAYER is the iceberg. Want to see great things? Get under them in prayer.
2. God is looking for people who will pray big prayers. He tells us His eyes are roaming to and fro. Watchman Nee says, “Why do we pray such small prayers?”
3. If you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you. And you’ll have a terrible prayer life if you don’t walk in relational forgiveness with God and others.
4. Prayer is a battle. It’s hard. It’s hardest on our flesh. When we pray, we overcome the flesh – and that’s a big part of the whole war! God overcomes the rest.
5. Pray and keep praying until God comes through. He’s not a reluctant God – not at all.
6. Pray for the people around you – ask God to move the hearts of people who influence nations, and people who you have influence with.
7. Pray for the lost. How can we change the world if we don’t pray for those IN the world that need change?
I’m convinced that prayer is life and life is prayer. “It is the life that prays,” said Ron Dunn.
What does America need? The “hopelessness index” is off the charts. We’re rocked by one government scandal after another. Moral chaos and confusion increase daily. What happens next will not surprise us because there are few surprises left.
Good is now evil. And evil is now good. For real. We’re there. Depravity runs wild.
What does America need? What can we do to change the world? Where do we start in this mess? There is a one-word answer to each question. It’s so simple – so real – so powerful.
Jim Denison answers these questions, and more, in his insightful blog post. I’ve inserted his blog into mine, below. You need to read this:
For the last seven days, I have been one of more than 110,000 people around the world who joined Anne Graham Lotz in praying for spiritual awakening in America. The Holy Spirit gave Anne anointed prayers for us to pray on July 1-6 as we sought God in repentance for spiritual renewal. Yesterday, Anne gave us a guide for seven hours to spend in fasting and prayer for ourselves and our nation.
Here’s what I learned: it’s all about Jesus.
You already knew that, I’m sure. You knew that human words cannot change human hearts, that you and I cannot convict a single person of a single sin or save a single soul. You knew that America desperately needs moral and spiritual renewal before it’s too late, and that only Jesus can bring about such a transformation. So did I.
But here’s what God made clear to me as I spent yesterday with him: if we are to be used by the Spirit as catalysts for awakening, we must seek Jesus’ glory, not ours. We must lead people to him, not to us. We must take Jesus into every circumstance and make him the central character of every conversation. Every church event and program must lead people to experience Jesus. Every sermon must lead people to encounter him. Everything we do must be a means to the end of bringing people to Jesus.
He is already at work, drawing the world to himself. Jesus is “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9). At Pentecost, his Spirit was poured out “on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). Before his crucifixion he promised, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). We often take this to mean that we are to “lift up” or glorify Jesus, which, of course, we are to do. But the next verse explains Jesus’ statement: “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (v. 33). When Jesus was crucified, he was “lifted up from the earth.” From that moment to this, he has been working to “draw all people to myself.”
My wife followed Anne’s prayer schedule yesterday as well, and wrote her blog post for today in response. We were amazed at the similarity in our themes: Jesus attracts whenever we exalt him. He is the magnet to all metal, North for every compass. He is God’s provision for all need, his comfort for all hurt, his hope in all grief. We must exalt Jesus because it is in his light that we see light; it is in his love that we are loved; it is in his peace that we know peace; it is in his forgiveness that we are forgiven.
When we exalt Jesus, he draws souls to himself. I became a Christian as a teenager because I met Christians and saw something in them I did not have in myself. If I will seek to exalt Jesus and not myself, to make him my King and myself his servant, to stay off his throne and in his will, others will be drawn to the Christ they see in me.
Who will meet Jesus in you today?
Read Jim’s blogs at www.denisonforum.org
The “7″ Series on prayer began with “Seven Truths About Prayer”.
My message (June 22) covered Truths #1-4.
Watch the message at firsteuless.com
Truth #6: Prayer initiates INCREDIBLE GRACE.
When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He emphasizes FORGIVENESS more than anything else. Forgiveness means that we “extend grace” to others the way God extends grace and forgiveness to us.
It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to truly pray (and by “pray” I mean that I realize that I don’t deserve prayer or mercy or grace or this access to the Holy Throne Room of God) without realizing I’ve been absolutely and graciously FORGIVEN of my sinfulness and sin and am only able to pray because of that forgiveness. I know this sentence is long. Read it again. You can’t truly pray without understanding you’re forgiven.
That means, as a forgiven and cleansed person, I know that I must extend that same forgiveness to those who’ve sinned against me.
This is what Jesus means in Matthew 6:12 when He says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” And if this is not clear, Jesus emphasizes it twice more in this text. When Jesus says something three times in one conversation, it’s a sure thing that we need to “get it.”
For us to “get it,” we must “give it.” Grace, that is.
When I pause to pray, I remember the huge debt I’ve been forgiven, and I so desire to walk in that forgiveness and access that I willingly, immediately, completely and sometimes excruciatingly and painfully, forgive others for anything they’ve wronged me in. And I am to do this each time I pray.
It does so much. It reminds me of God’s amazing grace toward me. It cuts loose the dead weight of unforgiveness and bitterness and lets me be unhindered in my praying. It lets me get up from that prayer completely at peace with God and man.
And it lets me initiate grace in my behavior, my words and actions wherever I go.
Pray with incredible grace this week and watch and Him work in you. Keep praying, and keep following along with us online to #GetToThe7.
The “7” Series on prayer began with “Seven Truths About Prayer”.
My message (June 22) covered Truths #1-4.
Watch the message at firsteuless.com
Truth #5: Prayer creates an ELEVATED VISION. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus said, “Pray this way!”
Why is this powerful? Because your world is small. His world is huge. Your kingdom (and mine) is limited. His kingdom is unlimited. Every time I deny my own will and my own kingdom to submit to His, I enter an elevated state of living – one initiated by GOD Himself. When I ask Him to bring His kingdom and His will into my life, I become acquainted with His plans for living.
So, instead of the disciples arguing over who was greatest among them, He wanted them to become servants of the kingdom. They needed to pray that.
In the same way, instead of, “Help me have a good day.” I can pray, “Make this day count for You and for eternity.”
Instead of just, “Fix my marriage problems” (which He assuredly can do). I can choose to pray, “Let everything that’s happened create in me the character that counts and a testimony for You.”
Instead of praying about someone’s ingrown toenail (I know that can be painful, but…) maybe I pray for my lost Muslim neighbors to be awakened to Christ.
Instead of praying about parking spaces for my convenience, I might pray for people groups to be converted. Instead of asking Him to help my sports team win, I might begin to ask Him to win the spiritual battle my friends are facing with their children.
See? It’s a bigger kingdom. It’s acknowledging that I can see His greater agenda and I’m asking to be included in it. In my life. Today. Now.
Exercise elevated vision this week in your prayers and watch Him use your prayers in things of eternal importance. Keep praying, and keep following along with us online to #GetToThe7.
Thoughts from John Meador and insights from God's Word.