Last year I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – What is the X-Factor of Leadership? ★, which examined how the X-Factor of Leadership is humble service to others through the example that Jesus gave to His 12 disciples. On the eve of Jesus’ brutal death on the cross, He celebrated one last Passover meal together with His disciples, the people closest to Him. Referred oftentimes as “The Last Super,” Jesus gave us a powerful demonstration and pattern to follow of what servant leadership is all about when He, the Son of God took on the role of a slave/servant and took hold of a jar of water and basin and washed His disciples’ feet. One by one, foot by foot, Jesus humbled Himself and cleaned the day’s grime from their sandal-wearing feet…POWERFUL! If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out because it will give you some needed background to this post.
Yesterday was “Good Friday,” which for Jesus was anything but that. For us though, it changed everything! By dying on the cross, Jesus stole the power of death and provided a pathway for you and me to overcome the Devil and have eternal life!! But before we celebrate Easter and Jesus’ Resurrection, I thought we could look at the events leading up to Sunday. Last week, my Pastor gave a great overview of Holy Week which I was very familiar with having grown up Catholic. His sermon encouraged me to spend some time just reading and meditating on the events of this week through the Gospel of Luke. If you are interested in reading what happened, they are recorded in Luke 19:28 – 24:12. For those not familiar, Holy Week is the time period from Palm Sunday when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem to Resurrection Sunday (aka Easter). As I studied the story of Easter in Luke, I discovered some interesting things. On Palm Sunday Jesus was heralded as a King riding in on the back of a Donkey and though we all know what happens just 5 days later on Friday, I was amazed about how Jesus made the most of every opportunity. In Luke 21:37-38 it says that:
“Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening He returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear Him.”
Even though He knew what awaited Him, Jesus spent each day teaching the very people who later would call for His crucifixion! Michelle Myers made this astute observation:
“The crowd shouted “Hosanna” on Sunday…and shouted “Crucify Him!” on Friday.
Good Friday was a horrible day but I think that Saturday was probably the saddest day because all the hopes and expectations that Jesus’ followers had were crushed, and crucified on that cross along with Him. Today’s “Thought,” is all about the transition period between the death of expectations and the resurrection of the dead. And how, if you find yourself in that circumstance today, whether you are a believer in Jesus or not, there is hope in these two powerful words…BUT GOD!
Before that though, I would like to give a little context. Luke 22:1-6 offers the background…As the Festival of Unleavened Bread (also called the Passover) was approaching, the leading priests were looking for a way to kill Jesus. In verses 3-5 it says:
“Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted, and they promised to give him money.”
One man from among the inner circle accepted a bribe to betray His master. As Judas waited for his opportunity, Jesus continued to show love to him even to the point of washing his feet!! And the amazing thing, Jesus knew as he was washing Judas’ feet, see Luke 22:21-22 and John 13:18-30 which recalls when Jesus made the announcement that one of them would betray Him! In the late 15th-century, Leonardo da Vinci captured that moment in his famous painting called “The Last Supper” as each disciple, including Judas asked Jesus if it was them. Shortly after, Judas left to put his plan in action. Unaffected by his departure, Jesus warned Peter and the other disciples that Satan was going to “sift each of them like wheat” and that the spiritual warfare was going to be intense. He also prepared them for what their life was going to be like after He was gone, see Luke 22:31-38. What love! Just hours before He would be viciously tortured and nailed to a Roman Cross, Jesus cared so much for these men that He would wash their feet, celebrate with them and offer counsel for the future! After the Passover meal, Jesus did what He had been doing all week, and went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray for strength for what Friday was going to bring. In Luke 22:47-48 it recalls how Jesus was betrayed and arrested. As He pleaded for His disciples to pray that they will not fall into temptation, the passage says:
“But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When I read these words, God spoke so clearly into my spirit that “WE ARE ALL JUDAS!”
WE ALL HAVE betrayed Jesus in our disobedience and choices that we have made.
WE ALL HAVE sinned and fallen short of what God desires for our life and…
WE ALL HAVE NO POWER to overcome sin without Jesus.
BUT GOD can change us if we will open our hearts! Look at this amazing truth from Ephesians 2:1-9!
BUT GOD! Two little words but when they are combined the impossible is possible! When we say yes to Jesus, “we are made alive with Christ,” it’s like hitting the “reset button.” The “reset button” is probably one of the greatest inventions on video game systems. Do you remember what game system this is from? Long before Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, or Sony PlayStation there was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). For those who remember this, you are old like me. Hahaha! This classic 80’s game system was a major pastime of my childhood. Hours upon hours were spent playing games like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Donkey Kong Jr. and The Legend of Zelda to name a few. The reset button was a constant go to when I was “knocked out” by Tyson or killed by a barrel or failed to rescue Princess Zelda, I would immediately jump up and hit the button which was like a do-over or clean slate. I saw this sign creation from street artist Martin Parker that so perfectly illustrates what the purpose of the Cross and the reality of Easter! We all get the opportunity to “reset our life” when we recognize that we are in need of a savior and surrender our will to God. When we come to the end of ourselves and see that we cannot be “good enough” or “do enough” to earn our way to heaven. When we see the cross for what it truly is, the ransom payment for our past, present and future mistakes! God wants a relationship with you and me and so He provided a way though the death and resurrection of His Son. In the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★, we looked at the life of Jonah and saw an example of how God will move heaven and earth in order to pursue you and me! God did the same thing when He sent Jesus to Earth. 1 John 4:9 (NLT) says:
“God showed how much he loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.”
As I have been studying the book of Jonah recently, it is amazing the jewels that are contained in this well-known story. Jonah and the Fish is not just a children’s story made up to teach a life lesson about the price of disobedience but was a true story. Jesus validated Jonah’s miraculous experience in Matthew 12:40 (NLT), Jesus said:
“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”
Yesterday was the remembrance of how Jesus was crucified over 2,000+ years ago and the payment for the sins of the world. He died on Friday BUT GOD raised Him from the dead 3 days later! Today as we wait for Resurrection Sunday, I want to put these two powerful words on the sticky side of your brain…“BUT GOD!” You may feel like things will never change…that your circumstance is hopeless…that things are hopeless. But that is simply not true! I am living proof that nothing is impossible for God. All you need to do is open your heart! Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT) is an amazing verse to show that when you accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, you can be alive and free!!
“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood.
For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.
Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”
Jesus came to set you and I free, will you accept Him? Revelation 1:18 (NKJV) says,
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
Jesus left the majesty of heaven and became flesh and blood to deliver a message of hope to a world desperately in need of a Savior. He is ready to extend grace and mercy to you today. So what should our response be? Will you surrender your life to Him? If you are ready to make a decision that will change your life, here is a simple prayer you can pray:
God take this broken, sinful person and forgive my sins. I want a relationship with you I am in need of a Savior. I believe that Jesus came to die on the cross for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever. Please forgive all my sins. I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation. In Jesus Name I pray! Amen!
If you prayed that in earnest, welcome to the Kingdom of God! I encourage you to find a bible teaching church and pursue your new relationship with Jesus! If you want to read more about developing your faith, check out our segment on the blog called “Back to the Basics”.
Now for the believer who may be struggling today or perhaps your walk with God has been in a lull…I want to challenge you to make a change today! Worship Pastor Wade Joye made this statement that resonated in me!
“Easter is not an event we celebrate; it’s a reality we live in.”
Just like Christmas, Easter should not be a “one and done” event. It should be part of our DNA. Don’t be a “Chreaster”… (a person who calls themselves a Christian but only attends church on Christmas and Easter.) If you want to have a vibrant faith, then you need to put in the work. We are doing a series right now about three worthy pursuits of God that will change the trajectory of our life with God. Through Prayer, Reading God’s Word (the Bible) and Worship (both in song and church attendance) we can live a victorious life! Paul instructs us in Romans 8:11 (NIV)
“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”
As a believer in Jesus Christ, the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead is in you! If you are in need of refreshment of your Spirit today, ask and you will receive that! Jesus is the Resurrected King who is ready to resurrect you and me. If you want to grow you need to make steps to do things differently. Nothing changes if nothing changes!
In anticipation of Easter tomorrow, I will close with this…“He is Risen!”
I pray that this year, you will experience Christ in a new way! Happy Easter!