This week, I want to walk through the major events of each day of what we call Holy Week going back into Scripture to see what was happening with Christ and its significance for us today.
I want to back up to Saturday first. On Saturday, Jesus had a meal the disciples, Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead, and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha was so busy getting everything ready. Mary poured out very expensive perfume anointing Jesus. Judas was indignant saying the money could have been used for the poor. Jesus rebuked him saying they would always have the poor, but they would not always have Him. It was a lesson of relationship.
All the works of religion are empty if we have no relationship with Christ. Once we are in a relationship with Him, the works of religion honor God. Outside of a relationship with Christ, religious works increase more and more with arrogance and judgment.
The next day, Sunday, he rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey just as had been prophecied. The people came out and waved palm branches. They called out to Him, “Hosanna” which means ‘save us.’ His disciples and the crowd praised Jesus. Some believed Him to be a prophet, but His disciples worshipped Him as Messiah. The religious leaders ordered Jesus to quiet His disciples and He said if they don’t worship me, the stones will cry out.
In this scene, we see three groups of people all watching the same Jesus ride in on a donkey. Some believed Him to be a prophet (Matthew 21:11), Jesus’ disciples who believed Him to be the Messiah which angered the religious leaders (Luke 19:39-40), and the religious leaders who completely rejected Jesus. We are still divided into these three groups.
Jesus is polarizing. He knew what prophecy said and He rode in knowing what everyone would believe. He knew the crowds were gathering in Jerusalem and by riding in on a donkey after performing miracles, He had set the stage to make an entrance as the King of Kings. The boldness of Jesus forced everyone to make a decision, to form an opinion of what they believed about Him. No one could have watched this and remained passive. Even to be passive was to dismiss His self-proclaiming entrance into the city as the Messiah.
Soon the crowds who only saw Him as a prophet moved by those who hated Him would lay down their palm branches to take up their torches yelling, “Crucify Him.” Those who chose to believe would truly live by faith by the time this week ends. But those who followed Him only as a prophet would turn away. How are you following Christ? Is He a prophet to you, someone to call upon when you need a miracle? Or is He God to be revered and followed in all that we do. If we do not make a conscious choice that He is God, the hard times will reduce us to the crowd who only followed Him as a prophet.
On Monday, Jesus cursed the fig trees for not producing and He stormed into the Temple courts overthrowing the tables of the money changers. He accused them of turning His Father’s house from a House of Prayer to a den of thieves (Luke 19:46). Jesus, in His last days, is defining for us what salvation should be. It was not doing good works such as giving to the poor. It was not a cult following a charismatic leader, and it wasn’t a religion. He would reveal the selfish motive of cult followers and the hypocrisy of religious leaders. On Monday, He emphasized prayer. During these last days, Jesus was clarifying what Christianity should be. It is not about good works that can be done even by the corrupt Judas. It is not about religious leaders who had become self-serving. And it was not about those who just wanted a miracle. It was about a relationship.
Adam and Eve heard the Lord walking through the garden and they spoke to Him. Christianity is not about anything until first it is about learning to walk and to talk, to intermingle, to worship, to pray, to enter into full communion with the Alph and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Word become flesh, giving everything to bring us back into His presence.
As we prepare for resurrection day, let us not seek religion, nor blessings, but a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. There is no Christianity without a relationship with Christ. He is our Friend, but also our King. He is the Lover of our Souls, but also the Judge of our deeds. He hung on a cross as our Passover, but He sits on the throne. He fell to His knees carrying His cross, but one day, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.