Reflecting on Passion Week
As I'm sitting at my desk in Sarasota, studying John 16 in preparation for Sunday's sermon (Palm Sunday), my mind turned to the earnestness and seriousness of what we see in the Lord's "last words" to his disciples before his arrest, trial, persecution, and death. Scholars often refer to this vital teaching time from the Lord to his disciples as the farewell discourse as Jesus provides his disciples with encouraging instruction and reassurance which they will certainly need as they endure the impending emotional pain of Jesus' death. In looking at the beginning of this discourse, I wanted to share with you three things that made quite an impression on me and I pray you feel their significance as well.
1) Jesus gives his loving and vital words of encouragement to the disciples after Judas had left them all to begin his betrayal of Jesus (John 13:31, "when he was gone..."). There are some things that are only to be said among family and Judas was not of the family of believers with the other disciples. The Lord has so many tender and special things to share with his people, those whom Jesus died to redeem, and those who are committed to living for Christ. These are the ones who need encouragement. As we pursue the Lord's priorities in our lives, as we strive for holiness in all that we do, as we prepare ourselves to be ready witnesses for our savior, the Lord will exhort us with encouraging words so we do not grow weary in living for him.
2) The Lord makes it very clear what his priorities are by speaking early to the important items he wants to make sure the disciples hear and understand, one of these is the centrality of Jesus being glorified. Look at verses 31 and 32: "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify him at once." Wow! It seems that because Jesus' work glorifies the Father, the Father does not delay in glorifying Jesus. Well, this is God's priority: glorify the Son, that is his first concern since, by glorifying the Son, the Father glorifies himself. Saints, this needs to be our priority: glorify Jesus in all we do so God himself will be glorified!
3) In verse 34, we the Lord's next priority: our love for one another, and that through our mutual love, we will be proven as Christ's disciples. Do you want to be known as Jesus' follower? Well, the way you show that you truly follow Jesus is selflessly loving your Christian brother and sister! That is what we are commanded to by Jesus, he calls it a new command, which tells us he is now giving it special emphasis. Saints, It is not our words testimony, but it is love that is the special mark of the true Christian.
One last thing: please pray fervently for our passion week activities. As we anticipate worshiping the Lord on Sunday, pray that the Lord will pour out abundant grace in our praises and in our public praying and in our preaching, so that the same faithfulness Jesus displayed to God's purpose for him would be mirrored by each of us in God's purpose for us. Also, please pray for our Good Friday Service and for all those who will lead us that evening, and pray especially for Pastor James Hull as he brings a word from the Lord to his people that night. Pray for Resurrection Sunday, expect a great turnout, so pray that every person in attendance will encounter the risen savior, and pray especially for Minister Randall as he preaches the gospel on that Sunday to the glory of God and your edification.
Well, I look forward to seeing you on Palm Sunday! Above all else, pray!
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