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Holy Week | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Holy Week

Holy Week- Maundy Thursday

Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate), from a verb that means "to give," "to entrust," or "to order." The term is usually translated "commandment," from John's account of this Thursday night.

John 13:1-17 New Living Translation (NLT)
13:1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

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.

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

Blessed Jesus, at your word
we are gathered all to hear you;
let our hearts and souls be stirred
now to seek and love and fear you;
by your teachings true and holy;
drawn from earth to love you solely.

Mark 14:22-25 New Living Translation (NLT)
14:22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, "Take it, for this is my body." 23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, "This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God."

O what an act of majesty!
O what a love beyond degree!
O what a hallowed hour of blessing!
Here soul and body are supplied,
and we show forth that Jesus died,
when in this feast our Lord confessing.

John 13:33-35 New Living Translation (NLT)
33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 14:15-21 New Living Translation (NLT)
15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

Holy Week- Good Friday

John 19:1-22 New Living Translation (NLT)
19:1 Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. 2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. 3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
4 Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” 5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. 9 He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
12 Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”

Hail, O once despised Jesus!
Hail, O Galilean King!
You have suffered to release us,
hope, salvation, joy to bring.
Hail, O, agonizing Savior,
bearer of our sin and shame;
by your merits we find favor;
life is given through your Name.

13 When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). 14 It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”
15 “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”
“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
16 Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified.f

He fulfilled all righteousness,
standing in the sinner's place;
from the manger to the cross,
all He did, He did for us.

So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
22 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”

Most holy Lord and God,
holy, Almighty God.
holy and most merciful Savior,
our eternal God!
Grant that we may never
lose the comforts from Your death.
Have mercy, O Lord.

By Your cross and suffering,
By Your sacred wounds and precious blood,
By Your dying words,
By Your atoning death,
Bless and comfort us,
gracious Lord and God.

The "Why?" Questions

It is Holy Week. This week stands apart from all other weeks of the year. It is this week where we find ourselves walking in real time with Jesus towards the cross. This year, I would like to use Luke 22:14-23:49 as a basis for daily devotionals. It is my prayer that you will use these devotionals as a means of preparing your hearts for Easter celebration.

"And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this."

–Luke 22:14-23 ESV

Most of us have a collection of “Why” questions. Your collection might look like this:
“Why am I going through this?”
“Why do I feel alone?”
“Why am I the only one struggling?”
“Why was I the one downsized?”
“It was his/her decision, why does it effect me?”
All of us deal with the "Why" questions in some form or another. These questions swirl around in our heads, and for many of us, they seem to control our lives.

What if this Holy Week, we could change the question? What if there was one question, if properly answered, could reframe all of our “Why” questions?

When I read the “Why” questions, I hear desperation, loss, pain, loneliness, hopelessness. In the upper room, I hear the answer for a different question.

The question isn’t “Why?”
The question is “For whom?”

In the midst of our confusion and questions, Jesus utters these words, “This is my body, which is given for you.”

For whom did Jesus die? For you– for your questions that seem unanswerable– Jesus died. For the part of your heart that breaks when you think about that situation– Jesus died.

Author David Lose writes, “…we hear in these two words the shocking, unimaginable, and utterly unexpected promise that everything Christ suffers – all the humiliation and shame, all the defeat and agony – he suffers for us, that we might have life and light and hope in his name!”

May our "Why" questions be framed in the knowledge that Christ died for you!


A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

–Luke 22:24-30 ESV

This is one of those passages that puzzles us. Jesus has just washed the disciples’ feet. Now they are arguing with one another over greatness. We read the passage with perfect hindsight thinking, “Seriously guys! How did you miss it?”

When are honest with ourselves, we know we often ‘miss it’ too.

Jesus points out an important issue, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them…But not so with you.” This is a simple truth in the Kingdom of God. In the world, lordship equals being placed over someone. In the Kingdom of God, the leader is the one who serves.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “True greatness means to be like Jesus, and that means being a servant to others.”

If you will allow me to put a little Nazarene spin on that quote– Holiness means to be like Jesus, and that means holiness is expressed by being a servant. Holiness is best defined by what we do. Christ was not know by what He didn't do- He was known by what He did!

As the people of the Kingdom, our lives are rooted in the gospel and patterned on Jesus’ life. I believe the challenge for us is not to simply redefine the word success, but to live a life that redefines what holiness looks like- "And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, 'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all' (Mark 9:35 ESV).

Peter's Denial

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

–Luke 22:31-34 ESV

If you are like me, I read the story of Peter’s denial with a tinge of hopelessness. “If Peter can’t stand, how can I stand?”

I believe a closer examination of these three verses breathes life into a dark time in Peter’s life. The Greek text reveals something the English translations miss.

The uses of the word you in verse 31 is plural. Here Jesus is speaking to the eleven disciples before Him.

However, Jesus changes the number of the word in the next three verses. Each time you is used, it is singular. Here Jesus is addressing Peter. You will note, that I bolded the singular uses and italicized the plural uses.

Why is this important? Here is a fact we often miss- Satan demanded all of the apostles. Then we read that Jesus prayed specifically for Peter. Look at what Jesus prayed, “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”

When I read the stories in the remainder of Luke’s Gospel and in Acts, I think Jesus’ prayer was answered. No where do we read that Peter’s faith failed. We do read that his courage failed in his denial a few verses away.

I know each one of us has a time (or multiple times) where we feel our courage has failed. The important thing is not that your courage failed. The important thing is that your faith didn’t fail.

Do you want to know the incredible thing? Jesus is praying for you that your faith may not fail! Then we hear Jesus give us some instructions for once we realized we have failed, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus is praying for your faith to not fail and this Holy Week, my we rest in that fact that the King of Heaven is praying for you!

The Beauty of Christ's Love

Today is Maundy Thursday. It is beginning of a three part observance called the Paschal Triduum. These days begin at sundown on Thursday and concludes at sundown on Sunday. It is my hope that we view Easter in the greater context of this observance.

I believe that looking at Easter as the celebration at the end of a longer observance, shows the events of this week in their proper context. This context brings out the beauty and richness of Easter morning!

One book that I have found myself drawn to year after year is Bobby Gross’ Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God. In this book, Gross gives us a great description of Maundy Thursday:

“On Maundy Thursday, the eve of Christ’s death, we focus our attention on the Passover meal he shared with his disciples. On this night he instituted what would come to be called the Lord’s Supper, in which the eating of bread recalls his broken body and the drinking of wine remembers his spilled blood. By his atoning death he inaugurated a new covenant with all who put their faith in him. Also, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in an extraordinary gesture of humble service, after which he gave a new commandment or mandate (Latin mandatum, from which we get “Maundy”). So we think today about self-giving love, Christ’s for us and ours for one another.”

As we focus today on that Upper Room, I would ask that we focus on the beauty of Christ’s love for His people. What strikes me about this story is certainly Christ’s actions, but on another level is how Christ turns the events back to his disciples.

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
–John 13:14-15 ESV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
–John 13:34-35 ESV

The beauty of Maundy Thursday is that the actions of Christ did not end in that room. He showed us what love is and what love truly looks like. Observing the Paschal Triduum is best displayed as we live out Christ's self-giving love in our world.

Brokenness of Christ

I turn again today to Living the Christian Year. Bobby Gross writes, “On this holiest of holy days, we are transfixed by Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. We experience a range of emotions: sadness, reverence, astonishment, gratitude. Why? Because we understand that what Jesus endured was for us and instead of us. He was wounded for our transgressions and he died for our sins–by the will of the Father and by his own will. His suffering exceeds our imagination and his motive goes beyond our comprehension. We are simultaneously dismayed and grateful: his torn flesh makes us whole, his bruises bring us healing, and his death gives us life.”

Last night as I had the opportunity to pray with many of you at our communion service, I was reminded of a post from one of my friends, Christa Klosterman, from seminary. She captures, in a beautiful way, the connection between the Upper Room and the events of Good Friday.

“When I moved into the parsonage, I became the caretaker for the 20-year-old Concord grape vine in the backyard. This past weekend, with my mom's help and wisdom, I made communion juice for both of my congregations for the coming year. The juicer I used heats water under the grapes and ‘steams' them until they break open, thus releasing the sweet juice. At the end there is also some stirring and mashing to get all the juice out of those grapes. I don't think I will ever serve communion the same way again. Broken and poured out is the goal of the juice making process and a visual reminder of this peculiar plan God has for rescuing the world through a broken, defeated body. You can't get to that sweet and tasty juice without the breaking. Perhaps there is a drawback to buying communion elements ready-made at the store?”

I love the connection this imagery makes between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Grace is demonstrated in the brokenness. Today is the day we remember that we are given life through the brokenness of our Savior.

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