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A Passion Week Thought
"People, attitudes, & action"

by Philip

1John 5:11-13, (Luke 19 – 22) + others

Jesus approached the last week of his life here on earth … making the arduous journey up from Jericho – 1340 feet below sea level … up the winding road through the Judean Wilderness … and finally standing on the Mount of Olives … he looked upon Jerusalem – 2550 feet above sea level.

On foot, it is a two-day trek … climbing slightly more than 3800 feet along that 14-mile road.
That road was banned to us two weeks ago.
It was on the Palestinian side of the line.
But we stopped about halfway up the new road …overlooking the old one across the valley to the north.
Today, it is still bleak!
No shade!
Dusty!
Here and there … you could see a Bedouin tending sheep … just as it must have been 2000 years ago.

Atop the hill overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus said:
(Luke 13:34,35) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets, and stones them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

As Jesus did in that day … we, too, today, stand at the focal-point of the entire Bible:

The reason for God stepping down as a human;
The reason for Christmas;
The reason for the Bible itself.
Heaven's drama of salvation … of eternal and abundant life is being played out.
For Jesus … his whole reason for being here hung like a millstone around his neck.
His days were numbered.
For us … it's the hinge-pin of our life.
It's the point of debarkation… for leaving the old ... the ways of the world.
It's the point of embarkation … for stepping into the new … the eternal … the abundant.

But like Jerusalem … we have the choice.
God … in the person of Jesus as our Christ has created the opportunity.
Now we must choose.
And, if we choose not to choose … that's our choice.
That was the choice Jerusalem made.
That's why Jesus . . .beheld the city, and wept over it . . .
because thou knew not the time of thy visitation.

Our ever-present … loving … and patient God … gives us a time … a season … to make our choice:
Our way … or His Way!
Jesus begins the last week of his life … as the opportunity for Jerusalem expires.
For them, it's downhill the rest of the way.

It's Palm Sunday…the day of the triumphant entry.
The palm fronds laid across his path denoted his deity.
Jesus – King of the Jews – enters … not as prophet … priest … and king … but as a common custodian to sweep the corruption and moneychangers out of the temple.
This has become known as Passion Week – the purpose … the pain … the payment of Jesus … as he becomes our Christ.
Today, we stand as so many did in that day.
What does this Jesus mean to us?
How will we react to his death, burial, and resurrection?
What will we do with the opportunity that it presents?

This was the final battle
Between good and evil
Between God and the devil.
Christ won!
He reigns in heaven!

But, the battle continues.
In Heaven ... in eternity … it's over.
But on earth we still struggle with the fallen angel … and all of his mischief.
We either follow the Passion Path of our Lord and Savior …
Or we follow the Poison Path of a tried and convicted liar and cheat.

Let's see how some of those in that day reacted:
Each character is part of God's mosaic of our salvation.

First, Judas

Judas was a patriot.
He loved his country.
Ours is not to judge his motives … but to profit from his experience with Jesus.
As a Zealot, he advocated the violent overthrow of Rome. Most Jews did … still do of the Palestinians.
Jesus must have been a great disappointment to Judas.
His Messiah must take any and all means to overthrow the enemy, Rome and all she represents.
Judas clung to the promise of the Second Advent … but completely overlooked the first.

Isaiah 53:6
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned,
every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His
mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before
its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth."

Judas had his own agenda.
This was not his Messiah.
Judging from the price … and the lack of reference to haggling … it would seem that the money was not his motive.
The money was a means to an end:

Either the people would rise up over the arrest of Jesus in revolt, or
Jesus, himself, would call down a legion of angels to put Rome in its place.
Judas thought he could force God's hand …
And bend the will of God to suit his own agenda.
Judas recognized his error.
Rather than repenting … he self-destructed.

The other Disciples

They shared much of Judas' attitude.
They, too, expected a different Messiah.
They were looking to a military victor ...
A knight in shining armor astride a white stallion.
Thus, they argued over their rank in the pecking order of importance.

Jesus taught them a lesson by washing their feet, as a common slave might have done.
Even the law would not let a master order his slave to wash someone else's feet.
Jesus demonstrated that … "many who are first will be last, and the last first."
God, himself, determines our ranking before him, by the gifts that he gives … and by the stewardship that we return.

Third, Peter

Peter loves Jesus so much he is sure he will be faithful.
There was so much that Peter didn't understand.
Neither do we.
Peter made a commitment in the flesh.
He loved Jesus as a brother.
That was the only capacity available to him.
Jesus had yet to send the Holy Spirit to indwell him.
With the Holy Spirit within us … we have the power of God to apply the Love of God.

Peter boasted out of his ignorance and got busted.
Peter learned his lesson and profited.
Judas did not … and lost.

Confusing the feelings that accompany faith with the attitude of faith … sets us up for a fall.
The strength of our faith is based more upon the object of our faith … rather than our supply of it.

The Soldiers

Those who opposed Jesus mocked him.
But, indifference was the majority response!
Lord … Savior … Master … bum, it made no difference to them.
Beating him with the cat-o-nine tails … or driving spikes through his wrists and ankles were just part of the job.
He was just another hunk of meat.
As he is to all who ignore him today.

The Centurion

The events of the last days … the events on the cross more than convinced the centurion.
When Jesus – after enduring the beatings, the ridicule, the mockery, and the agony of the Cross – looked up and asked: Forgive them Father, for they no not what they do.
The centurion glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
Mark quotes him as saying that Jesus was truly a Son of God.

The Sanhedrin

These fellows stand for institutional evil, whether it is political or religious.
They enjoyed political peace with the enemy – with Rome.
They wanted nothing or nobody to disrupt the status quo.
Their business … their bottom line … depended upon keeping Rome happy.

The Pharisees

Rank and power were their gods.
Protecting their positions … their prestige …was their goal.
It didn't matter how much they had corrupted the Law of Moses …
They were determined to protect their religious monopoly.
They were willing to violate their own law to do it:

Trials after dark,
Trials by unofficial authorities,
Paid witnesses,
False charges …
It didn't matter … as long as this fresh upstart from Galilee could be eliminated.

Pilate

This poor people-pleaser was on a political hot seat. Oh, how he did squirm!
Afraid the Sanhedrin would go to King Herod and to Rome, he caved in big time.
People-pleasers end up pleasing no one.
Pilate was nothing more … nothing less … than a political prostitute who sold out to the best offer.
He let himself be used.

Herod

King Herod was supposed to be a ruler.
He feared Jesus as a threat to his throne.
Rome had entrusted him with the peace and prosperity of Palestine.
This he ensured with threats and violence.
And Jesus attracted adoring crowds without trying.
But, being a puppet king … Herod was bored.
He occupied his time with trifles, with curiosities, with hobbies, with building projects.
He had castles and retreats all over the countryside.
He craved excitement.

When Jesus showed up, he was hoping for a magical trick or, at least, some amusing conversation, anything to relieve the boredom.
Even Jesus could not stomach this "empty suit."
When Jesus refused to entertain him and his court, Herod joined the common soldiers in mocking Jesus.

The women

Luke highlights the role of women around our Lord.
They surpass the men in holiness.
Yet, their role is simply one of support, of "being with."
They illustrate God as an always-present companion – never intruding, but available.
Only a few were named, but they were always at a place of service.

They didn't run. The disciples did.
They didn't hide. The disciples did.
They were at the cross. The disciples watched from afar.
They wept with and for Jesus.
They were first to serve. Last to leave.
These women were the tough ones.
They did the right thing for the right reasons, no matter how insignificant it might seem to the world.

Simon, the Cyrenian

Soldiers pressed this North African into service.
His resentment turned into respect … and his respect into faith in Jesus as his Christ.

The Good Thief

Luke calls him a criminal; Mark and Matthew call him a "thief."
He demonstrates that we don't have to change anything but our minds to become a Christian …and to receive eternal life.
He personifies hope and the unconditional love God has for all of us.

1John 5:11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Our question today is:

What will you do with Jesus?
Neutrality is not an option!
Embrace him … and life becomes eternal.
Ignore him …and life becomes unbearable!
The choice is ours!

See Also:

Passion Week Message
The kind of person Jesus was, the kind of life he lived, and the way he embraced death, shows us, in human terms, what God is like. Jesus tells us that the whole purpose of his coming among us was that we too might share his way of being human, share that richness of life that he lived.

An Overview of the Holy Week
Holy Week is the pinnacle of Great Lent. At no other time of the year will religious thought and practice be at such a high peak as during this sacred week, and no other family feast or festival should out rank that of Easter.

Passover Thoughts
An explanation of the history, traditions, and meaning of the Holy Liturgy form the Orthodox perspective.

Good Friday is a prep -witness day
What can we learn from Jesus Christ's experience on Good Friday?

The Power of His Resurrection
To know Christ is to know the power of His resurrection. All the powers of Satan and death could not hold Him.

Good Friday - A new Covenant of God for Humanity
The passion of Christ on the cross was the new Covenant and beginning of the new Chapter the process of salvation for humanity.

Events in the Passion week
with Biblical References (Spring AD 30 -approximately)

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