Our walk in this series began with Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and everyone is thinking he`s coming to kick out the Romans and bring freedom to the Jews, so they lay down Palm branches and shout, "Hosanna " King of the Jews." You can understand why they are so excited because for centuries they have been oppressed and conquered by everybody - the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans - they`re 0 and 5 and their season is not improving.
However, they are so excited because finally they think Jesus is going to give them a political victory, but that`s not what Jesus came to do. He didn't come to Jerusalem to kick the Romans out; He came to die in order to take the punishment that we all deserve on himself. That is not what they expected or wanted. Palm Sunday represents all the times that we get really excited about Jesus because of what we think He can do for us rather than about who He really is and what he really offers. Palm Sunday represents all those times we get excited about Jesus because we think He`s going to give us the job we want or the health we want or the friends we want.
This leads directly into the second major day of Holy Week - Passover. This is the night that Jesus celebrates the last supper with his disciples. It`s also the night that Judas betrays him, and the gospels imply that the reason Judas betrays Jesus is because he`s exasperated that Jesus seems more concerned about saving souls than about starting a revolution. So because Jesus doesn't follow the script, Judas turns his back on him.
Here again we can relate because this sometimes happens to us. We get disappointed with God because he doesn`t do what we want him to do. We just ignore Him or do our own thing or maybe come to church, but don`t really give our lives to him. Like Frank Sinatra we do it "our way" and follow our own path. Passover is about all the ways we turn our back on Jesus, as everyone does that first Lord’s Supper night 2,000 years ago. It`s the most sordid night in human history. The disciples fall asleep instead of praying with Jesus; the chief priests put Jesus on trial in secret at night. Then the priests get afraid and pass him off to Pilate, who passes him off to Herod, who passes him back to Pilate. Pilate finally caves in like a house of cards to the angry crowds, who just a few days before were praising Jesus but now demand his death.
Passover is about all the ways that human beings fail God, but here again Jesus surprises us. You would expect him to give up on such a sorry lot, but that is not what He does. Instead He keeps pursuing us and chasing us, and as much as we run away from him, He never gives up on us. Do you know who held the seat of honor at the Last Supper? Judas - because God never gives up on us. And do you know what Jesus does BEFORE the Last Supper? He washes his disciples` feet. Think about it -- in a culture where people walk everywhere in dirt and dust, no water to take a bath, nothing but leather sandals absorbing all those odors, and what does the son of God do? He kneels down and washes those dirty feet. Thursday of Holy Week is about how Jesus loves us in spite of our dirty feet, in spite of our failures, fears, and weaknesses. It`s about how he cleans us up and makes us whole.
I’m going to tell you much more about Passover tomorrow when we gather together. I can’t wait to see you. Come expecting an unforgettable encounter with the Risen Christ!
Humbled by Him,