Holy Saturday, When Jesus was Gone

Today is the anniversary of Holy Saturday, Easter Eve or Black Saturday.  It is the name given to the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  It is the seventh day of Holy Week.  When Jesus died, He called out, “It is finished!” He had completed His job.  Now what?

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Where was Jesus on this day so long ago?   He was dead.  My heart breaks to write this.  Jesus was away from God and descended into hell.  Isn’t that what the Apostles Creed says?  All of what was done was for us.  The price was paid for us so that we would not owe it.

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This day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting like Lent.  Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday.  He had said He would rise from the dead so they would be watching for Him.  Most likely they would be recalling every word He said to them.  I would.  Wouldn’t you go over every detail?

Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that He had risen from the dead.  Pilate sealed the tomb, secured it, and posted guards.  No one was getting in.  Jesus’ body would not be taken.

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Easter or Resurrection Sunday is tomorrow.  I know the ending of this heart wrenching account.  I also know this was God’s plan, but it still hurts.   For those of us baptized, when we were we died with Christ (going down under water) and arose with Him (rising up again).  Symbolic but not close to what my precious Savior endured.

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Scripture tells us this in Romans 6:3-11 King James Version (KJV):

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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So, while we await Resurrection Sunday, take a moment to reflect.  Just as we were baptized and died with Jesus, we died to sin.  We should sever the bond sin has over us and sin no more.  After He died for us, let us live for Him.
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Jesus’s Temper versus Ours

We are all self-quarantined at home with this Covid19 pandemic.  Emotions are on a roller coaster of ups and downs.  Tempers are quick to flare. Our descendants will read about this in history books.  How are you spending your time, and how are you maintaining your temper?

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.  After Jesus arrived in Jerusalem did you ever wonder how he spent His final week in ministry?  On Monday He taught His disciples a parable about faith when He cursed a fig tree that did not produce fruit. Do you remember that one?

They had been out walking and were hungry when they saw a fig tree with many leaves.  After they looked for the fruit, none could be found. It was barren. Jesus cursed it, and when they came back to it had shriveled up and died.   Scholars believe the tree being cursed represents God’s judgment on those that are spiritually dead.

Jesus was comparing the tree to the whole nation of Israel because it had become spiritually barren before the Lord.  It no longer produced fruit.  The people knew their  religion but did not live it.  They knew the correct words, but their hearts were away from God.

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This story of what Jesus also did might be more familiar.  Jesus also went into the temple and cleared it out of the dishonest money changers.  This time He was mad.  He had enough.  They were cheating people and making a mockery of the temple.  Jesus went through overturning tables and saying: “Scripture says ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer’, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” He drove the money changers and their animals out restoring order and respect.

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What has stayed with me about this story for many years is that Jesus stopped and braided a whip so that He could think about what He was going to do before just charging into the temple.  He didn’t fly off the handle but took time to think about the situation. Maybe He prayed.  I would imagine He did.

How about you when you become angry?

“So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” John 2:15

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Could you do this? I can’t tell you how many times I have flown off the handle in anger. Acted quickly without thinking things through.  My family calls that having a “short fuse”   because it does not take long to explode after the anger is lit.

Jesus is not like this. His righteous indignation toward what was happening in the temple was just. It needed to be done. He waited to think clearly and make certain it was done correctly.  How many times have I wished that I had done things like that?  Many! What do you do when you are angry?  How do you react?

Jesus had one week left with his disciples before his crucifixion and resurrection.  Everything was done in the right way without rushing.  In His time and in His way.  Even in a time of righteous anger He still slowed down and gave Himself time to cool off and think with a clear mind.  What a beautiful example for all of us.

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Hosanna! Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!

Happy Palm Sunday! Of all the Sundays before Easter throughout the years, this one will probably be the most memorable.  Never in my lifetime did I expect the church doors to be closed for any reason, but now they are. You know what?  Since it has happened now, we are all still able to worship at home with most of our churches and a plethora of others.  Our souls will not starve.  We have a buffet before us.

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Today hundreds of years ago, Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. Scripture tells us that Jesus rode into the city on a young donkey. The streets were lined with people who threw clothes and palms or small branches, in front of him as a sign of homage and respect. This was what people did for kings. They were treating Jesus like royalty. Using palm branches symbolized peace and victory. Jesus was coming in peace, triumphantly. The crowd of people shouted “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.”

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This Palm Sunday we need to claim peace and victory in His name.  Amen.  Wave those palm branches high!  Did you know the Bible tells us “Do not fear” three hundred and thirty five times?  Wow!  One time for each day of the year.  Not only does He tell us not to fear or be afraid, but He has placed it in our spirit.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2Timothy 1:7.

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Let’s be Warriors and not Worriers.  In Matthew 6:34  it says “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  So how do you become a Warrior?  Read your scripture and pray.  Put on the armor of God.

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Pandemic has cast a black cloud on this planet, but the bright glorious Light from God shines through it.  Use good judgment and don’t lose hope.  We are entering the celebration of Holy Week, the anniversary of the events the week before Jesus went to the cross and victoriously arose.  Grab your palm branches and prepare for peace and victory.  Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

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Create in Me a Clean Heart

Does it take you some time to get your house ready for an important guest?  Maybe someone of importance is coming over or someone you love tremendously and you want everything to be perfect.  I know for me it takes days to prepare.  Things that are usually skipped are squeaky clean.  My oven sparkles like new even though no one is going to open the door to check.  Sound familiar?

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The same is true for getting our heart, soul, and mind prepared for Easter.  This time of preparation is called Lent and begins today on Ash Wednesday.  This is the first day many people from something.  It can be a food or drink such as candy or coffee, but it also could be a bad habit such as gossiping or complaining.

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Lent is a time of reflection and self sacrifice.  We deny ourselves or give something up to remind ourselves of what Jesus gave up for us.  Ours is a small token compared to the suffering and torture endured by Jesus.  Scripture tells us that when we fast it should be between us and God.  We shouldn’t boast about it.

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Lent is a time to draw close to God, to worship Him, and to repent of our wrongdoings.  Like Spring it is a time of newness.  We get rid of our dirt and cleanse ourselves with God’s help.  Ask Him to help us have a clean heart.  On Easter we celebrate our rebirth, our new selves.  Hopefully our transformation will last.

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I hope you have an amazing Lenten Season as you prepare yourself for Easter and the beautiful gift of salvation the  Lord has for anyone that just asks.  He is such a gracious, loving Father.  If you don’t know Him, I urge you to contact a minister and find out more.  He is so worth it.

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He Lives!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah! Today is Easter, Resurrection Sunday.   Lent has been finished. Have you prepared your body, mind, and spirit for worshipping our risen Savior? We have talked about why He came, what He did, what He expects of us, and learned many things these past forty days, but the most important thing about Lent is have we prepared ourselves for Easter and worship? Are you ready?  Me, too!

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Churches have all types of Easter services some started on Friday night and go through tonight. One of the most popular is the Sunrise Service. Did you go today?  It is a special time to worship and usually done outdoors.  If not today have you ever worshipped at dawn on Easter watching the sun come up and imaging Jesus Christ rising from the dead? It doesn’t matter when or where we worship, just that we do.

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On Easter morning the women went about their normal routine of checking the tomb for Jesus.  What they found today was quite different.  An angel sat on the huge stone that had been rolled away.

(Matt. 28:5-6)

The Bible says Mary, mother of James, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Salome gathered at the tomb and saw that the large stone had been rolled away from the entrance. An angel was there and said “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen.” (Mt. 28:5-6, NLT).

When they looked inside the tomb it was indeed empty. The angel asked them “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you that He would be turned over to sinful men, be crucified, and rise again on the third day!” – Luke 24:6-7

The shroud covering Christ’s body was neatly folded and placed where His body had been.  That is significant because during those times a folded napkin at a table meant the person would return.  He was not finished.  He was returning.  Jesus took the time to send that message to His followers. “I am returning.”   He was not finished yet.

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Jesus had accomplished what was foretold by the prophets. God’s Son was beaten, accused, crucified, placed in a tomb, and He arose on the third day. He had done what He said He would. He conquered sin and death. Our sin debts had been stamped “paid in full” because of our Savior. He gave everything for our salvation, but what have we given in return? Do I give Him my love and devotion? My obedience? Have I submitted my will to His?

Take time this Easter to really worship and think about the great sacrifice Jesus made for you. He didn’t just die on the cross for the disciples and Bible people. We are included in the covenant, too. He died for Cheri, Janice, Joyce, Tom, Donna, Den, Vanessa, Jason, and even me. Yes, He died for us, but He arose. He paid the price so that we may reign in Heaven as heirs of the true King. He died so that we might live. Life after death is real. It is our gift for the taking.  Rejoice! He is alive. Worship Him. He will return as promised. Let’s rejoice, worship, and stay ready.

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Holy Saturday or Easter Eve

Holy Saturday, Easter Eve or Black Saturday is the name given to the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Some Christians recognize Holy Saturday as the day on which Jesus “rested” from His work of providing salvation.   It is the seventh day of Holy Week.  When Jesus died, He called out, “It is finished!” He had completed His job.  Sin had been atoned for and salvation was now available.  Jesus had built a bridge between the Father and us.  We can now go straight to Him and not via priests and holy men.

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This day is traditionally a time of reflection and waiting like Lent.  Jesus’ followers spent this day waiting after his crucifixion on Good Friday.  He had said He would rise from the dead so they would be watching for Him.  Most likely they would be recalling every word He said to them.

It is also the day when Roman governor Pontius Pilate instructed guards to be posted at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ followers from removing the body to claim that He had risen from the dead.  Pilate sealed the tomb, secured it, and posted guards.  No one was getting in.

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How have you felt reading the activities and what happened during the days of Holy Week?  I learned some things when researching for this week’s blog that I did not know before now.   I felt like I was there trailing around after Jesus, too.  At the end of each day my emotions were raw.  How could the people be so callus and blind not to see that Jesus was The Son of God?  How could they beat and torture anyone to that degree, let alone Him?  I was outraged and heartbroken.  I cried heartfelt tears of anguish.

I know the ending.  I also know this was God’s plan, but it still hurts.   For those of us baptized, when we were baptized we died with Christ (going down under water) and arose with Him (rising up again).

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Scripture tells us this in Romans 6:3-11 King James Version (KJV):

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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So, while we await Resurrection Sunday, take a moment to reflect.  Just as we were baptized and died with Jesus, we died to sin.  We should sever the bond sin has over us and sin no more.  After He died for us, it is the least we can do for Him.

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Good Friday

Good Friday or Holy Friday.  Where did that name come from for the awful day our Lord Jesus was falsely accused, condemned, beaten, and crucified? Good? How was that day good? Scholars say the word “good” comes from the Old English “good” meaning holy.   Others argue that the good comes from Jesus sacrificing himself for us. That is the best thing that could ever happen for us.  Jesus paid the ultimate price and we received the ultimate good gift.

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Early Friday morning, Judas realized what he had done and was overcome by guilt. He threw the money on the ground and he hanged himself on a tree, not being able to live with what he had done. Around 9:00 a.m. Jesus was in the midst of being mocked, accused falsely, shamed, and horribly beaten.  Horribly beaten is putting it mildly.  He was whipped and scourged to the point His flesh was torn off.  Some accounts say that His bones were exposed showing white against the bloody red.  Still our precious Lord did not cry out. He endured true to scripture.  Then after a corrupt trial He was sentenced to be crucified, which is one of the most agonizing, painful, and disgraceful deaths of that time or any.

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They placed a crown made out of pointed, sharp thorns on His head and pressed it down. Hard.  The large thorns cut into His head and face.  Can you imagine the pain of just that one act? They mocked Him, spat on Him, and made Him carry His own heavy cross.  The weight was so heavy He stumbled under it.  The soldiers grabbed someone from the crowd to help carry it.

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He was still being tormented. Even as the soldiers hammered the nails in His precious body to the wooden cross, He was being insulted and mocked. Did He respond in kind?  No. Through it all He remained silent.

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His followers were clustered at the foot of the cross. They were mourning, grieving, and suffering. Did Jesus finally say anything? What did Jesus say? He told Mary and John there were now mother and son. He lifted His head and asked: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

He asked for forgiveness for those crucifying and tormenting Him. Then, the soldiers divided His clothes among themselves. They continued to mock Him and baited Him saying if He was truly God’s Son, then save Himself. One of the thieves hanging beside Him asked Jesus to remember him for surely He was God’s Son. Jesus told the thief he would be in Paradise with Jesus.

Around noon it became very dark and gloomy. The sun stopped shinning. Around 2:00 Jesus asked “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And then Jesus realized to fulfill scripture one more thing must be done, so He said “I am thirsty.” They gave Him some sour wine on a sponge and held it up with a branch. After tasting it, Jesus said “It is finished.” He then said in a loud, clear voice with head lifted “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.”

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Then he died. This was about the ninth hour or 3:00 p.m. This literally shook the world. There was an earthquake, rocks broke, the temple curtains were torn in half, and tombs opened and bodies of Holy people were raised to life.” Wow! Can you imagine being there?

Rather than break his legs as they do at the end, the soldier took a sword and pierced Jesus in the side.  Blood and water gushed out.  They were positive He was dead.  Oh, can you comprehend what His poor mother and followers went through watching that?  The heartbreak?

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Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus so that He could be buried in a tomb on his land. Then before 6 p.m. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus down from the cross and lay His body in a tomb. The tomb was sealed with a large, heavy stone that took more than one soldier to move. More soldiers were posted to guard overnight.

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Did I take you through the events of Good Friday?   I hope you were able to walk there and envision it. It is unbelievable the pain of that day, isn’t it.  To say Jesus suffered and died is so understated.  Jesus was tortured, beaten, mocked, flogged, had nails driven through his hands and feet, and was bloody almost beyond recognition.  He did this for us. You and me.

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Maundy Thursday, a New Commandment is Given

Today is Holy Thursday which is known as Maundy Thursday.  Maundy is derived from a Latin word that means commandment.  This is the day that Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment – to love others as He has loved them.  (John 13:34).  They were gathered in the Upper Room.

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Jesus was at the table with His apostles and spoke to them of what was to come.  He was preparing them for His suffering.  They dined on the usual Passover meal, but Jesus stopped at the the bread and wine.  He gave it a special meaning. Jesus said that these would be a symbol of His body and blood to His followers to remind them that through His death, our sins are forgiven.

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” And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

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Do you think of Him each time you take communion?  He paid the ultimate price for our eternity.  More than we could ever imagine.

Jesus and His disciples often gathered in the “Upper Room”.  It was where they normally stayed while in Jerusalem.  Today Jesus began His teaching by example.  After they ate He washed the disciples feet.  What a humbling experience for them!  Even Peter told Him that Peter should be washing His feet, but Jesus said no.  In John it says “Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

00FEBD4E-1BE7-428F-BD84-C3B287E7CA6BI cannot fathom what it must have felt like for the apostles.  Jesus was telling them of His upcoming death but that through it we all might have eternal life.  He was showing by example that we are to be humble and to love everyone, even our enemies – even those who are our Judas.

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Afterwards Jesus and a few of His followers went to the Garden of Gethsemene to pray.  It is there that Judas identified Jesus with a kiss and He was taken by the soldiers.  Things start to get rowdy but Jesus quiets His apostles.  He will not allow violence.  In fact, He heals a soldier whose ear was severed.  Jesus is arrested and taken to the authorities.

My heart is heavy writing this.  Can you imagine how it felt to actually be there?  Thank you for revisiting Maundy Thursday with me.  Tomorrow we will see what Good Friday holds.

 

 

 

 

Holy Wednesday or Spy Wednesday

Spy Wednesday is an odd name for a day during Holy Week or at least it seems to be for me.  There is no secretive or symbolic meaning.  It is just what it says it is about – a spy or traitor among Jesus and a His followers.

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Judas, we all know, was the one that betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin.  Luke 22:3-6 tells us:

“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.  And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray Him unto them in the absence of the multitude.”

Did you realize that Satan entered Judas?  Of course, Satan always has his hand in bad things.  He uses people.  Twists words and situations around until evil doesn’t sound bad.  He is the master deceiver.

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Did you ever wonder why the Sanhedrin decided on paying Judas thirty pieces of silver?   In the Old Testament, Exodus states that the price for a slave that accidentally dies by an ox is thirty pieces of silver.  The Sanhedrin were paying the price of a dead slave to Judas for his deception.  It was an insult to Jesus that they thought Him worth only what a dead slave was.  Obviously Judas thought that, also.  Our Redeemer and precious Savior, whose value is beyond measure, was sold out for the price of a dead slave.

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There is something else that happened on Holy Wednesday.  It is the anointment of Jesus at Bethany.  Scriptures tell us that while Jesus was at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came in with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume.  It was made of pure Spikenard.  She anointed Jesus with this expensive oil and dried his feet with her hair.

Matthew 26:6-13:

“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

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Judas did not approve of this at all.  He thought the oil should have been sold and the money put in the treasury for helping the poor.  Satan used Judas’ love of money to gain a foothold in Judas’ life.  Don’t let that happen to you.

I hope today’s blog has blessed you and given you a little more insight into Wednesday of Holy Week.

 

Holy Tuesday, Jesus Teaches in Parables

Tuesday the disciples walked back by the fig tree from yesterday that Jesus cursed. It was now withered and dead. Jesus used that to teach them about faith, true faith. A person or nation that does not produce fruit for God (do His work) will wither and die all the way down to its roots. The tree had leaves so by first sight it looked like it was producing. A closer look revealed no fruit. Then Jesus cursed it so it withered and died.

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Are you producing fruit? Are you leading people to God? Helping them find salvation? Does the light of Jesus shine through you? Are you loving, kind, selfless, good, joyful, and have the fruits of the spirit? Don’t wither away. Grow tall and produce fruit. Increase in your faith. Flourish in your love for Jesus. You will be amazed at the things that will happen when you believe and have faith!

“Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.” Mt. 21:19

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“Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Mt. 21:21-22

They returned to the Temple and the religious leaders were upset at Jesus for establishing himself as a spiritual authority.  He had a large following now. Jesus evaded the traps the leaders set for Him with their questions.  He scolded them in Matt. 23 and compared them to tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people.

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Jesus took His disciples to the Mount of Olives and told them parables about end times and His return.  Those who wait for the Master’s coming—the wise and faithful servant (Matthew 24:45-51), the five wise virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and the good servant who uses his resources wisely (Matthew 25:14-30) are a few of the ones.

Do you remember any of these parables from Sunday School or Vacation Bible School?  The point is to have faith and be ready for Jesus.  He is coming back just like He promised.  When?  Well, that is not for us to know.  We are just supposed to be ready at a moment’s notice.

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