Devotional thoughts based on the chronology of the Passion Week
Worship and Betrayal
With more than two centuries of history, our nation has had its share of good and bad times. Yet, there are eight momentous events that stirred the hearts of fearful Americans to ponder the future of this nation. What were those events?
First, during the War of 1812, the British forces attacked Washington D. C. and burned down the White House and many other governmental buildings. Second, as America’s Civil War was drawing to an end, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by an embittered Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1965. Third, on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday, the Stock Market crashed which led to a 12-year depression. Fourth, in 1941, while America was feeling secure in its isolationist policies by not becoming involved in the war spreading across Europe and Asia, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Fifth, once again, America stood on the brink of war, this time nuclear war, as the Soviet Union was establishing nuclear missile bases in Cuba in October 22, 1962; a period known as “The Cuban Missile Crisis.” Sixth, 13 months later, having resolved the missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Seventh, on April 4, 1968, the civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. His death transformed Dr. King’s non-violent movement to bloody riots, beatings, and the murder of eight civil rights workers. Finally, the Islamic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, destroyed our nation’s confidence that America was safe from any and all attacks or invasions. [Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/scariest-days-in-america-4151872 ]
Just at our nation braced itself from the worst to come – the destruction of a nation – so did Jesus brace Himself as the shadow of the cross loomed over His life. The events leading up to His crucifixion, which were two days away, subjected the Savior of the world to the most humiliating and dishonorable treatment from the hands of sinners. The prophet Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be acquainted with grief and all our sorrows. Jesus was [and still is] rejected and despised by sinners. Often, the question has been asked, “who crucified Jesus; was it the Jews, the Roman soldiers, even you and me?” The biblical answer is, God the Father crucified the Son of God because only Jesus could satisfy heaven’s righteous demands. Only God can satisfy His divine righteous standards. Thus, it would necessitate that God become a man and to die in man’s place for the sins of the world. Read Isaiah 53.
On Tuesday of the Passion Week, in the Spring of A.D. 30, Jesus ended the day with a sigh. Jesus knew the chief priests and scribes were seeking a way to kill Him (Matthew 26:1-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2) because He threatened to destroy their religious authority and profitable system. Moreover, the elders of Israel, along with the scribes and Pharisees, rejected the Son of God and sought to kill him because they perceived that Jesus was speaking to them directly in His “Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers” (Matthew 21:33-46).
As Tuesday ended, Jesus and the disciples arrived at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3). Since leprosy was a disease that forced lepers to live apart from the rest of society – extreme social distancing – (Leviticus 13:45-46), Simon must have been one of the many lepers Jesus had healed. Thus, Simon provided hospitality to Jesus and His disciples. Many students of Scripture believe that Simon is the father of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
Check out the following link: https://www.gotquestions.org/Simon-the-leper.html
WEDNESDAY, SPRING A.D. 30
Whether it was late Tuesday evening or very early Wednesday morning, two significant events occurred in this time period. The first event is that of a woman [Simon’s daughter, Mary?] who anointed Jesus with precious, fragrant oil. The cost of this fragrant oil was worth more than a year’s wages. Perhaps, this oil was a family heirloom and that Mary and her family desired to worship Jesus in this manner. At any rate, Mary understood her act of worship was preparing Jesus for His burial two days later.
Jesus’ disciples criticized Mary for wasting money on such an extravagant gift (Mark 14:4). Judas Iscariot added, “’Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:5-6). Nevertheless, Jesus silenced them by accepting Mary’s worshipful act. “When we give what we value to our Creator, He receives it gladly” [R.C. Sproul].
The second event is the betrayal of Judas Iscariot.
“Stung by the rebuke of Jesus, Judas arranged for a secret meeting with the religious leaders. ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?’ Judas asked. Naturally, the chief priests ‘were glad’ (Mark 14:11) when they heard these words. Just when they, the chief priests, were in a quandary, thinking perhaps that the crowds of Jewish Passover pilgrims were solidly on the side of Jesus, Judas – one of the twelve closest companions of Jesus whom they considered their enemy – volunteered his services! The chief priests must have considered this an answer to their prayers…Right there, on the spot, the deal was finalized, the money paid…
“They knew very well that if Judas had the money ‘in his pocket’ he would not have dared to back out before committing the deed…
“For the price of a slave, gored by an ox, the Savior was sold to His enemies. See Exodus 21:32. For such a pitiful sum, Judas betrayed His Master!” [Source: The Life & Ministry of Jesus Christ, Book III, NavPress, 1983].
Read Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16; Mark 14:1-2, 10-11; Luke 22:1-6.
WORSHIP: True worship of God begins with a new heart from God. Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). People who have not been “born-again” are unable to worship God in spirit and truth. Like Mary, let us give what we value most to our Creator – ourselves. May God’s love in us so move our hearts that we no longer live for ourselves but for Him (2nd Corinthians 5:14-15).
BETRAYAL: This dastardly deed is one of life’s most painful experiences. It seems that the religious leaders may have taken the betrayal of Jesus as a sign of weakness within the group of disciples. Therefore, they seized the opportunity to take advantage of this “insider” by using him to track down and apprehend Jesus because to take Jesus by force before all the people would have started a riot. And so, for the price of a slave Judas betrayed Jesus, thereby fulfilling Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 11:12-13).
What possible reasons brought Judas to this point – to betray his friend and Savior? John writes in his gospel that Judas cared not for the poor but was a thief and had the money box; and used it to take what was put in it (John 12:6).
The bottom line, the intimate moments with and teachings from Jesus did not impact the heart of Judas. He was unmoved by Jesus. Judas’ heart was not changed. He was lost. And Judas entered eternity without being born-again. Sad.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has infected nearly 1 billion people, claiming over 7 million lives all over this world, there is a far more deadly disease in our world. It’s called sin. And everyone is affected. In fact, everyone who has lived has died because sin brings physical death and spiritual death – everlasting separation from God.
Nevertheless, there is good news; God has provided a cure from sin. That cure is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read Titus 2:11-14 and then call on the Lord Jesus to save you. It is always tragic when sinners die and have never surrendered their heart to Jesus. Instead of receiving a pardon from God, the sinner faces judgment and condemnation of God.
How about you? Have you by faith received Jesus into your life? Have you acknowledged your sins before God? The Bible declares that we are all sinners. Therefore, believe that Jesus’ death on the cross paid your sin debt, a debt that no one can pay, except God. That is why the Son of God came to earth; He added human flesh to His divine being and became the Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). It was on the cross that Jesus shed His blood for our sins, bearing our shame, unrighteousness, and penalty. And in exchanged gave sinners His righteousness, when they trust in Him (2nd Corinthians 5:21).
What a great exchange! Therefore, Jesus’ resurrection is proof that God the Father accepted His Son’s payment for our sins and that His resurrection has conquered the power of death and the grave.
Will you truly surrender your life to Jesus, or will you go on pretending, like Judas, that you are a follower of Jesus? God truly knows our hearts.
My heavenly Father, may the eyes of our hearts always be open to the things of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).