Entering the week of Passion with Him

Passion

Wednesday 04/13/22 

Week of His Passion

Message – Entering the week of Passion with Him

***Video is HERE***

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Entering the week of Passion with Him

As I told you on Sunday, the week of Christ’s passion has for a long time been a time of reflection for me. It has become a week used to walk through THAT week with Him in my studies and in my heart. 

To imagine being an Israelite of that day who is faced with making a decision about who this man is. 

To imagine being a disciple, facing the mixture of emotions and conflicting thoughts regarding the way this week was playing out, versus how it started all of which was a surprise. 

To imagine being Jesus, Who was facing a set of difficulties all His Own and how He might have found solace in time of prayer and worship. 

Finally, what it is to be me…2022 (or whatever the year might be during which I am doing these reflections). 

  • Am I who I would like to be in relation to my Lord and Savior? 
  • Both metaphorically and literally within my own heart, on what side of the divide do I find myself regarding Who He is and Who I allow Him to be to me? 
  • Is He Lord? 
  • Do I genuinely revere Him, do I honor Him from the core of who I am…do I admire Him or like Peter found about himself, do I just really like Him…like a friend?

The week leading up to Jesus’ death was fraught with difficulties. Difficulties in situations, confrontations, disappointments, disillusionments, shattered expectations all culminating in a plot to kill Jesus aided by treason of one of His Own disciples and the denial of one of thoses closest to Him.

The Gospel of John is probably the most chronological of all the gospels, but it is strangely silent regarding Jesus’ ministry during the week of His passion. So in attempting to discover a general order of events I turn to the unlikely Gospel of Mark

I am told that due to the way in which Mark and Luke record the events of Jesus’ life with very little differences in chronology – they are the best guides for a “general” sequence of events – though a chronological order was never the intent of ANY of the gospels, it is through these books we see the greatest potential regarding the events of His last week.

The events outlined by Mark beginning in the 11th chapter are as follows…

Mark 11

  • Jesus curses the fig tree – 12-14
  • Cleansing of the Temple – 15-19
  • Explains the fig tree – 20-25 
  • In the temple Jesus’ authority is challenged by the chief priests and experts in the law – 27-33 

Mark 12

  • Parable of the tenants – 1-12
  • Paying taxes to caesar – 13-17
  • Sadducees challenge the resurrection – 18-27
  • The great commandment – 28-34
  • Jesus destroys a distortion of Messiah and warns against the “experts of the law” – 35-40
  • The widow’s offering – 41-44

Mark 13

  • Jesus’ foretells the temple’s destruction, answers questions about it and the end of the age and tells the sign of beginning of the tribulation – 1-23
  • Describes rapture and teaches regarding it – 24-37

Mark 14

  • The chief priests and experts in the law plot Jesus’ murder two days before Passover – 1-2
  • Jesus is anointed at bethany – 3-9
  • Judas collaborates with those plotting against Jesus – 10-11
  • Passover with the disciples – 12-25
  • Foretells Peter’s denial – 26-31
  • Prays in the garden of Gethsemane – 32-42

These represent just a sampling of the events of that week, offered to us in scripture and the ones in scripture are themselves only a sampling of all that really happened.

But that was THEN and THIS is NOW! 

Israel rejoiced at His coming to Jerusalem and they were hailing Him as King.

The account in Mark, reminds us of what we read on Sunday from Matthew…that those who went before Him were saying,

“Hosanna! ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’  (10)  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David That comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  

Nonetheless, we know what the Jews said – they said in pretense. From what they expected to get out of Him. They were looking for a conquering king – to free them from Roman rule and establish the independence of the Jewish nation, beginning in Jerusalem – their capital.

What they saw through that upcoming week, was someone entirely different than they expected and so, someone entirely different than they wanted!

In that week… 

  • Jesus entered the temple and drove out the money changers (for a second time).
  • He taught some unpopular parables.
  • His authority was challenged.
  • He encouraged them to pay taxes to Caesar (this was a big one)
  • He confirmed the belief in the resurrection which made Him unpopular with the Sadducees.
  • He warned people about the scribes – which undoubtedly upset the scribes.
  • He put the pharisees in their place a few times – even pronouncing 7 woes upon them.
  • He foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple (also not popular)
  • He spoke about the coming of the Son of Man (Which is Who He was – but this would have confused them – because they did not see a second coming only one)
  • He again foretold His death and that it would be by crucifixion.

All of this conspired together to reveal a different Jesus than the one they thought they had honored and shouted Hosanna to- at the beginning of the week. 

The conflict between the Jesus they expected and the Jesus they encountered was profound…and their disillusionment with Him ran so deep that by week’s end they were shouting something very different regarding Him.

So, I find myself asking, how is Jesus different in reality, than He is in your mind… and I invite you to ask the same of yourself.

Why is this question so important? Well, THIS question in particular is not so important perhaps but what it reveals is – regardless of what words you use to frame it.

Our expectations of someone is not only what initially gravitates us into a commitment of relationship, but it largely drives our subsequent devotion to it as well.

Every relationship begins with baseless and even unreasonable expectations, but as the relationship endures – those unrealized expectations will have a crippling effect on any true potential for a joyful and fulfilled life if they are not revisited and where necessary – re-evaluated and altered.

Even in natural relationships what we are prone to is control – not love. We want someone for who we want them to be, rather than for who they are. It requires commitment and love to continue with devotion undiminished if who we expected is different in some key points than what we really desire.

Can we change? Should we? Well yes and if the person we are talking about is Jesus our Lord, God and Savior than most certainly YES!

A few years ago I mentioned to you that Francis Chan one time offered a comparative example between heavenly praise and what passes for praise here on earth. 

He pointed to the heavenly hosts in God’s presence who are constantly crying out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come… Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come…” over and over and over throughout the centuries.

Then he asked something like this…

Did it ever occur to you that the reason they do not get bored with this, the reason they do not walk away sometimes and say one to the other, “man praise and worship really wasn’t that great today…you know I get tired of how repetitious the music is. I wish we could do something different sometimes!”

No, they are entirely enamored with Him and engrossed by Him…totally caught up in the experience of being in His presence.

I don’t think those words they say are scripted – I think they are the natural outpourings of their hearts – as they stand in His presence. I think this because life makes it clear that God does not seem to like “robots” so I have to believe the worship pouring out of these amazing beings is coming from their core, and that with a sincerity which would make us blush in embarrassment when compared to our greatest expressions of worship.

Why do you think that is? 

I believe it is because they can see Him, to some degree or another – as He really is, and the effect that has on their soul compels all that is honest and sincere in them to respond instinctively to what they see – to WHO they are standing in the presence of.

Who is the “Jesus you expect?” 

Are you willing to wrestle with the fact that regardless of Who we are expecting Him to be, whatever that may look like to you –  He is in fact, different on some level! 

I am opening the floor now for some honest input. I DO NOT want “Well I think that some people…” statements. This is a time for being honest…being vulnerable…being transparent, not hypothetical.

We confess our sins one to another and pray for one another – but why? Just so we can feel better by venting and praying? NO! So we can overcome and be healed!

I’ll spearhead this, because as a shepherd it is not responsible to lead you where I am not willing to go.

You need to know that this part of the recording WILL be edited out…

Again this is not about “problems”…this is about inward struggles against the flesh and against what Jesus may be asking you to or become like. 

The question is – do we love Him enough to seek Him for Who He really is and are we devoted enough to Him to remain completely His when we see Him to be different than thought or hoped?

On Sunday we even saw that Jesus was different then what the disciples had expected as well and they fell into deceptions and temptations because of it.

The most famous of which, I believe, was when He told them that they were going to have to eat His flesh and drink His blood or they could have no shared experience with Him! Man…they wanted to bolt after that – and would you? Honestly…wouldn’t you?!

But the words He had spoken to them over those years had bound them to Him and they said, where would we go?

Again, in the events at the end of this upcoming week of Passion, Peter was offended. First when Jesus knelt to wash his feet and Peter told Him  “Never Lord – You will NEVER wash my feet”. Again Jesus’ reply was – “If I don’t, you can have no shared experience with Me”. So, broken by these words Peter says, “then not my feet only Lord, but also my hands and my head!”

Then again, Peter was offended when Jesus told him he would deny Him. 

Peter passionately declared his undying devotion with the words, “though everyone else forsake you I would die with youPeter, before the rooster crows 3 times you will have denied you ever knew Me”.

What caused Peter’s fall there? Some unequivocally claim pride was the only culprit, and though there was a fair amount of that in those words, I believe it ran deeper than that as it often does with us humans.

Up until that week…especially that one moment in the garden, Jesus had always been the Teacher no one could best. 

No one could… 

  • outsmart Him in a discussion
  • corner Him with their arguments 
  • …and they couldn’t even lay their hands on Him to kill Him though they’d tried before – even recently! 

But that night…in the garden, Peter encountered a Jesus he did not expect! A Jesus, Who could be taken by sword and carried off to judgment.

Man…didn’t see that coming! 

You know, …and don’t loose the fact that this isn’t really about Peter, this is about me…it is about you… but you know it is real easy to say, “Lord I’d die with You” when you truly believe He could never die! 

But what about when they haul Him off and nail Him to a tree? 

Where is our faith and undying devotion then?

I mean, what do we do with a Jesus like that? 

The sacred, protected and guarded Jesus of our imaginings will never challenge us – but none of us are safe against being offended and disillusioned with the REAL Jesus

He is not what you expected and that is something all true lovers of God will HAVE to cope with if they endure in their relationship to Him as His servants at all. 

As I often do and found that I had several years ago when I first approached you with thoughts like this –  I turn to Michael Card to bring this notion into focus for us, in his song ‘What will it take to keep you from Jesus’.

The link to the song will be on the website, but I will read the words for you now…

What will it take to keep you from Jesus

Keep you from heeding His call

The simple excuse of a heart that is hard

A reason… that’s nothing at all!

And there was a man who was owned by his money

He was as rich as could be

but deep in his heart was a voice that was crying

telling him he wasn’t free.

When he questioned the Master

concerning his problem

the answer took his breath away.

For his money, that had come to mean more than his soul

forever would stand in his way.

What will it take to keep you from Jesus

Keep you from heeding His call

The simple excuse of a heart that is hard

A reason…. that’s nothing at all.

So many excuses and so many lies

are blocking the Light and the Way,

but the final decision to follow the Lord

can shatter and blow them away.

Once there was one who was lame in his body

Sick in his body and soul.

Though he didn’t know all the facts about Jesus

he knew that he longed to be whole.

So with some of his friends

He went seeking and found Him

but so many stood in their way.

So they tore through the roof

and they lowered him down

for nothing could keep him away.

What will it take to keep you from Jesus

Keep you from heeding His call

The simple excuse of a heart that is hard

A reason…. that’s nothing at all.

And how long before you stop with your reasons

take your defenses away?

It’s only a lie that keeps you from following

don’t let it stand in your way!

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!