A Chronology of Holy Week

Next week is the most important week of the year for a Christian. Here’s a brief synopsis of the timing of events that took place with the corresponding Scriptures.

Palm Sunday
Triumphal entry into Jerusalem Mt.21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-10; Lk. 19:29-44; Jn.12:12-19

Monday in Holy Week

Jesus curses the fig tree    Mt.21:18-19; Mk.11:12-14
Jesus cleanses the temple    Mt. 21:12-13; Mk.11:15-18

Tuesday in Holy Week

Jesus teaches in the temple    Mt. 21:18-23:39; Mk. 12:1-44; Lk. 20:9-21:4
Jesus anointed in Bethany    Mt. 26: 6-13; Mk.14:3-9; Jn.12: 2-11

Wednesday in Holy Week

The plot against Jesus        Mt. 26:14-16; Mk.14:10-11; Lk. 22:3-6

Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper        Mt. 26:17-29; Mk.14:12-25; Lk. 22:7-20; Jn. 13 :1-38
Jesus Comforts disciples    John 14:1-16:33
Gethsemane            Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:40-46

Late Thursday/Early Friday

Jesus’ Arrest and trial    Mt. 26:47-27:26; Mk. 14:43-15:15; Lk. 22:47-23:25; Jn. 18:2-19:16

Good Friday

Jesus’ crucifixion/death    Mt. 27:27-56; Mk. 15:16-41; Lk. 23:26-49; Jn. 19:17-30
Jesus’ burial            Mt. 27:57-66; Mk. 15:42-47; Lk. 23:50-56; Jn. 19:31-42

Sunday
The empty tomb        Mt. 28:1-10; Mk.16:1-8; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:11-48
Mary Magdalene sees Jesus    Mk. 16:9-11; Jn. 20:11-18
The Road to Emmaus        Mk. 16:12-13; Lk.24:13-35
Jesus appears to 10 disciples     Mk. 16:14; Lk.24:36-43; Jn. 20:19-25

 

Learning to love like Jesus – Why?

Jesus says in John 13:35: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Why is it important that we learn to love like Jesus? The obvious reason is that the Lord commands it. But this text offers us two vital reasons why…

Fulfill our mission. Learning to love like Jesus helps us to fulfill our mission of reaching others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.Verse 35…“All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” The quality of fellowship in the body of Christ determines the effectiveness of our witness. Loving others well will show the world that we indeed are Christians – by our love.  Here is what Francis Schaeffer referred to as “the final apologetic.” The love of Christians for one another should be the distinguishing mark by which the world recognizes us as followers of Jesus. Such mutual interest in and concern for each other will arrest the attention of unbelievers. This recognition from the world will both honor the name of Jesus Christ and incline people to listen to our message.

We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of Christ’s love in us.

The second reason we are called to love like Jesus is to preserve our unity… Learning to love like Jesus serves as the antidote to every vice that disrupts our fellowship and life together. The original disciples quarreled repeated about which of them was the greatest. The devil fosters a spirit of envy, rivalry, distrust and self-reliance.

How important it is for all of us to recognize that the seeds of the failure to love Christ and others lie deeply embedded in our own hearts. Dark forces are afoot that would annihilate our love for Christ and others. Left to our natural selves we either provoke those to whom we feel superior or envy those to whom we feel inferior. We must repent of all the ways that we have failed to show the love of Christ.

One of the primary ways that the Evil One deceives us is by causing us to focus on that which is mysterious rather than focusing on our duty. For example in John 13, Peter is more concerned about where Jesus is going rather than taking stock regarding whether he is loving others like Jesus loved him.

Would you pray that your church would become more of a cruciform community that is marked primarily by how it loves rather than just a Christian community that is simply marked by what it does.

This new commandment is the whole gospel story. Love is cruciform, downward for us and outward through us. In the cross, divine love triumphs over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice.

This is why the great hymn writer Isaac Watts beautifully wrote:

“Love so amazing so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”

Holy Week Worship Services

Here are several worship services that we have offered during Holy Week.

Palm Sunday Worship Servicehttp://www.box.net/shared/meuhlgyx82

Messianic Passover Sederhttp://www.box.net/shared/hg219v3srs

Good Friday Worship Service – http://www.box.net/shared/yqd2e5yyt2

Resurrection Sunday Worship Service – http://www.box.net/shared/vufzp8ne68

Maundy Thursday and the Mark of a Christian

The Mark of the Christian (John 13:31-38)

The text upon which this teaching outline is based is normally assigned to Maundy Thursday. The Latin word for commandment is mandatum.

This commandment that Jesus gave was the old commandment with which Moses himself summarized the whole law, but Jesus made it new by highlighting three things: He gave this old commandment a new scope (v.34), a new standard (v.34) and a new motive (v.35). Who are we to love? How are we to love? Why are we to love?

On June 25, 1967, the Beatles unveiled the hit song “All You Need is Love.” This was a popular saying in the ’60s anti-war movement. The Beatles wrote this in two weeks as a message to the world. It was written and released faster than any other Beatles song. Would Jesus agree with the message of the Beatles’ song? What would you say is the greatest obstacle for people coming to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only Savior of sinners? Some intellectual problem or moral problem. For many, simply put it’s the church. The church should be “the safest place on earth,” a place of true spiritual community. The gospel creates a new community where love rules every relationship.

 

  • A New Scope (Limits) Who are we to love? Love one another (13:34)

The love of Christians for one another should be the distinguishing mark by which the world recognizes us as followers of Jesus. In striking historical confirmation of the words of Jesus recorded here in John 13, Tertullian, an early church pastor (about 200 A.D.) wrote:

“But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. ‘Behold,’ they say, ‘how they love one another.’ He claimed that “they themselves are animated by mutual hatred;” “Behold how they are ready even to die for one another,’ for they themselves would rather put to death” (Apology XXXIX).

A Command. “Keep on loving one another.” Here is the most important instruction that Jesus left for his followers. What Jesus says here is not a suggestion. It is a command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Love is one of the key terms in John chapters 13–17, occurring thirty-one times in these five chapters as compared to only six times in chapters 1–12.

Illustration: The Apostle John was known in the ancient church for his concern for love. Jerome tells of John in his extreme old age saying, whenever he was carried into the assembly, “Little children, love one another.” When his disciples got tired of this, they asked, “Master, why do you always say this?” “It is the Lord’s command. If this alone be done, it is enough” (Jerome Commentary on Galatians – Galatians 6:10).

What is love? Agape is self-sacrificing love that serves the interests and needs of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Phileo is self-satisfying love that benefits the person expressing the love. Agape does not consider the worthiness or unworthiness of the one who is being loved. Phileo considers both.

C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves examined the four Greek words for love. He concludes that they come down to one seminal distinction: the difference between what he calls “need love” and “gift love.” Need love is always born of emptiness. It is basically inquisitive to the core. A need lover sees in every beloved object or person a value that he or she covets to possess. Need love moves out greedily to grasp and to appropriate for itself. If one were to diagram it, need love is always circular, reaching out to the beloved to transfer value back to itself. In a popular image, need love sucks essence out of another and into itself. Many times when we say to another, “I love you,” what we are really meaning is, “I need you, I want you. You have a value that I very much desire to make my own.”

Now Lewis contends there is another reality which he calls gift love. Instead of being born of emptiness, this form of loving is born of fullness. The goal of gift love is to enrich and enhance the beloved. Gift love is like an arc, not a circle. It moves out to bless and to increase rather to acquire or to diminish. Gift love is more like a bountiful, artesian well that continues to overflow than a vacuum that sucks up everything with which it comes in contact. God’s love is gift love, not need love. And then he says, “We humans are made in the image of such everlasting and unconditional love.” This gift love describes the way Jesus loved. And the great good news for all of us today is not only that we are loved by God in this marvelous way, but also that this is the way we are to live our lives.

A New Command. How is this command new? “New” (kainen) implies freshness rather than simply “recent.” Kainos – denotes the new primarily in reference to quality, the fresh. Neos denotes the new primarily in reference to time – recent.

  • How are we to love? A new standard…(13:34b). Just as (even as) I have loved you. Encouragement and admonition.

The passage before traces two great movements of grace — ‘just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’

The newness of the precept stems from Jesus requiring that his disciples love one another just as he loved them! Jesus’ constant, sacrificial and unconditional love must be the pattern for their attitude and relationships with one another.

Why does Jesus raise the standard? We will never rise to fulfill our Lord’s mandate unless we grasp how much we are loved by him… unless we have experienced the cleansing, purifying love of Christ.  Thus, at the outset we are told what this text is about: It is about being loved by Jesus.

If I am honest, I must admit that I prefer the dignity of self-reliance and the fantasy of being heroic for Jesus. I am prone to be self-serving like Judas and self-protecting like Peter.

How does Jesus love his disciples? How does he love us?  He had loved them without reservation and without limit (13:1 – He  showed them the full extent of his love.”)  He loved them to the end.

Sacrificiallylaying down one’s life (twice – vv.37&38) … His love was to be shown in his death for others. He ‘laid down His life for us’ (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16). 1 John 3:16, 4:16 and the interpretation of Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet). John 15:12-13 – My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Unconditionally – Naturally, we love those we find attractive. But who is Jesus loving here in this text?

How are we to love one another? Persistent, sacrificial and unconditional love for one another is the distinguishing trait of the Christian. Imitate Christ in loving, humble service. QUESTION: Where am I sacrificing time, talent, and treasure to care for the physical, moral and spiritual well being of others? Such self-sacrificing love shown by his followers would be the witness to the world of true discipleship.

Illustration: Karl Barth, the famous Swiss theologian of the last century, was a great thinker, a prolific writer, and a professor at several leading European universities. On one occasion he was asked by a reporter for a brief summary of his twelve thick volumes on church dogmatics. Barth could have given an impressive intellectual reply or a profound theological dissertation. He didn’t. Quoting from the popular children’s hymn, he simply replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Personally experiencing the love of Christ transforms us into loving people. When we experience the cleansing, sacrificial love of Jesus ourselves, we extend the sacrificial love of Jesus to others. A community founded on cleansing love has no other purpose for existence that to extend it to others.

 

  • Why are we to love? A new motive…(13:35) What incentive do we have to love others well? Several reasons …

The obvious reason is that the Lord commands it. Verse 35…

“All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Loving others well will show the world that we indeed are Christians – by our love.  Here is what Francis Schaeffer referred to as “the final apologetic.” The love of Christians for one another should be the distinguishing mark by which the world recognizes us as followers of Jesus. Such mutual interest in and concern for each other will arrest the attention of unbelievers. This recognition from the world will both honor the name of Jesus Christ and incline people to listen to the gospel message. We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of Christ’s love in us.

Loving others well curtails a spirit of envy and rivalry that would disrupt our fellowship and hinder our mission to extend Christ’s kingdom. What were the disciples doing in the Upper Room? Eating the Passover seder. Yes, but what else were they doing? They were quarreling concerning which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24 – a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest).

“The gospel creates a new community where love rules every relationship. The gospel completely transforms our human relationships. The gospel energizes our friendships, our marriages, our relationships with parents and children, with our peers as well as those who are older and younger. Without the gospel, we will either “provoke” those we feel superior to or we will “envy” those we feel inferior to. But since the gospel has both humbled us and yet has assured us of our lovedness, we are now free from envy and pride, inferiority and superiority.”

– Adapted from Tim Keller

Left to our natural selves we either provoke those to whom we feel superior or envy those to whom we feel inferior.

  • A Few More Implications of This Passage

Adoration: Relish the persistent, sacrificial, and unconditional love of Christ for you. 1 John 3:1 – Little children – diminutive form.

Confession: Recognize that the seeds of the failure to love Christ and others lie deeply embedded in your own heart. Dark forces are afoot that would annihilate our love for Christ and others. We must repent of all the ways that we have failed to show the beauty of love and the beauty of Christ. One of the primary ways that the Evil One deceives us is by causing us to focus on that which is mysterious rather than that which is challenging.

So Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” What happened to the self-reliant, ever-confident Peter? At the end of the night, he was a broken, Christ-denying failure. Even then, as one of Christ’s sheep, he was not snatched from the grasp of His loving shepherd (John 10:28).

Gospel Thanks: This new commandment is the whole gospel story. Love is cruciform, downward for us and outward through us. In the cross, divine love triumphed over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice. Isaac Watts: Love so amazing so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all…

Aspiration: Poem “The Christ in the Christian.”

“How can you lead to Christ your boy;Unless Christ’s method you employ?

There’s just one thing that you can do; It’s let that boy see Christ in you.

“Have you a husband fond and true? A wife who’s blind to all but you?

If each would win the other one, That life must speak of God’s dear Son.

“There is but one successful plan; By which to win a fellow man;

Have you a neighbor old or new? Just let that man see Christ in you.

“The Church that hopes to win the lost; Must pay the one unchanging cost;

She must compel the world to see; In her the Christ of Calvary.”

It is humanly impossible to love like this. However, II Tim. 1:7 reminds us that we have been given a Spirit of love to empower us to delight to do that which Jesus commands!

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Great God, in Christ you call our name
And then receive us as your own,
Not through some merit, right, or claim,
But by your gracious love alone.
We strain to glimpse your mercy-seat
And find you kneeling at our feet.
Then take the towel, and break the bread,
And humble us, and call us friends.
Suffer and serve till all are fed,
And show how grandly love intends
To work till all creation sings,
To fill all worlds, to crown all things.
– Brian Wren

A Devotional Guide for Holy Week

The upcoming week ranks supreme in our church calendar as well as in the life of any follower of Jesus. Thus, I would encourage you to not let this week go by without intentionally spending time in God’s Word asking the living Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit to speak to you.

In our day, the church has lost much of its observance of Holy Week and we are spiritually impoverished because of it. The prayers and Scriptures below are designed to walk you through the events surrounding the passion and sufferings of our Lord. You don’t have to implement the whole guide, but the Lord has a blessing for you in some part of the devotional guide below. I commend it to you as a simple resource to spiritually engage with Christ at this important time of year! This simple guide comes from my days of serving on the staff of a great church called Intown Community Church in Atlanta, GA.

Devotions for Holy Week

Lord Jesus Christ, in this solemn week when we see again the depth and mystery of your redeeming love, help us to follow where you go, to stop where you stumble, to listen when you cry, to hurt as you suffer, to bow our heads in sorrow when you die, so that when you are raised to life again we may truly share in your endless joy. Amen.
– Prayer for Holy Week, Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, 1994

We hope that you can find time each day to remember and celebrate all that Jesus endured to rescue us. When reflecting on the gospels, be mindful of certain questions: What is this passage telling us about Jesus – his person, work, and teaching? What difference should this make in my life? How would I live differently if the truths of this text were more powerfully real to me?

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

O Everliving God, let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; that as he from his loftiness stooped to the death of the cross, so we in our lowliness may humble ourselves, believing, obeying, living, and dying to the glory of the Father; for the same Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.  – Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 -1894)

I Timothy 6:12-16    Fight the good fight
Matthew 21:12-17    The Temple cleansed

Monday in Holy Week

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross may find it none other than the way of life: Grant us so to boast in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, 1979

Philippians 3:1-14    The surpassing greatness of knowing Christ
John 12:9-19    The Triumphal Entry

Tuesday in Holy Week

Almighty Father, Everlasting God, you permitted your son to suffer the anguish of the cross for us, so that you might drive the power of the enemy from us: Grant us that we may so commemorate and give thanks for His suffering that we may thereby know forgiveness of sin and redemption from eternal death; through the same, your Son. Amen.
– Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Philippians 3:15-21     Our citizenship is in heaven
John 12:20-26    The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified

Wednesday in Holy Week

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer (1979)

Philippians 4:1-13    Rejoice in the Lord always
John 12:27-36    Now my heart is troubled

Maundy Thursday

Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment, to love one another as he loved them. Write this commandment in our hearts; give us the will to serve others as he was the servant of all, who gave his life and died for us, yet is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Lutheran Book of Worship (1978)

I Corinthians 11:23-34        The Lord’s Supper
John 13:1-17        Jesus washes his disciples’

Good Friday

My Father, enlarge my heart, warm my affections, and open my lips to proclaim the love of Calvary. There Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, athirst that I might drink, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory. My savior wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, endured all pain that I might have unfading health, bore a thorned crown that I might have a glory-diadem, bowed his head that I might uplift mine, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness, expired that I might ever live. O Father, help me to adore you by lips and life. O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise, my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed, Satan baffled, defeated, and destroyed, sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood, hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open. God forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save. Amen.
– Adapted from The Valley of Vision. A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (1975).

Hebrews 10:4-17    The true sacrifice
John 19:1-42    The crucifixion

Easter Saturday

O God, whose loving kindness is infinite, mercifully hear our prayers; and grant that as in this life we are united in the mystical body of your Church, and in death are laid in the ground with the sure hope of resurrection; so at the last day we may rise to the life immortal, and be numbered with your saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                    – Anonymous

Hebrews 4:1-16    A sabbath rest
Matthew 28:1-10    The resurrection

Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Lord

God our Father, creator of all, today is the day of Easter joy. This is the morning on which the Lord appeared to men who had begun to lose hope and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold that first he must die, and then he would rise and ascend before his Father’s glorious presence. May the risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes that we may know him in the breaking of bread, and follow him in his risen life. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.                – Lutheran Book of Worship (1978)

Exodus 12:1-14    The Passover
Luke 24:13-35    The Emmaus Road