Week Twenty-Eight Day One


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The Story: Week Twenty-Eight – Day One

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 26 of The Story begins with preparations for the Passover meal. Jesus gives instructions to two of the Twelve. They go and do what He told them and prepare the meal. When Jesus arrives and the meal is in progress, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet.

Initially, Peter won’t let Jesus do that. The reason Peter doesn’t think Jesus should wash his feet is because this was not an activity that even a Hebrew slave had to perform. Jesus is Peter’s teacher and lord. He shouldn’t be doing such a thing. If anyone should get their feet washed, it should be Jesus.

This is similar to the interaction that Jesus had with John the Baptist when Jesus came to be baptized. John believed that he should be baptized by Jesus. John, in contrast to Peter, was ready to submit to the One who was greater. But, like Peter, he didn’t understand Jesus’ actions.

Jesus is setting a pattern that they are to follow. He is setting the foundation for their continued fellowship after He is gone. They are to serve one another. They are to put the others above themselves. They are not to lord it over others. They are not to struggle against each other to see who comes out on top. The greatest among them must be servant of all.

This portions ends with Judas leaving to betray Jesus into the hands of those who want Him dead. The events of this night will leave the disciples frightened and confused.

The Story: Week Twenty-Eight – Day Two

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This portion of The Story focuses on Jesus’ words during the celebration of the Passover meal. This discourse comes from the Gospel of John 14-17. He is preparing them for the events that will soon take place. He tells them that He is going away to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. And if He goes away, He will return so that He can take them to be with Him where He is.

That He is going away is bad news. The disciples don’t like that. But Jesus tells them that He won’t leave them alone. He will send them the Holy Spirit who will guide them in the truth. And when He talks about truth, He is talking about Himself. He is the truth. So the Holy Spirit will guide them in their growth into The Truth – as they mature in Christ. This is not an evening without hope.

Jesus also prays for them. He asks His Father to care for them – to keep them in the faith. The relationship that Jesus has established with them (and with us) is the key. Jesus is asking that His Father would keep them in that relationship so that they and Christ will be one just as Jesus and His Father are one.

The Story: Week Twenty-Eight – Day Three
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

They have gone out to the Mount of Olives – to the Garden of Gethsemane. This night has not gone according to the disciples’ expectations. Jesus didn’t proclaim Himself to be the Messiah. He didn’t set up His earthly kingdom. The Passover meal was the time that they expected all of that to happen.

Jesus tells them that they will all fall away. They will be scattered. Peter says that even if he is the only one who remains faithful, he will not fall away. Jesus tells him that before the night is over, he will deny that he even knows Jesus.

Jesus then goes off a little way from the disciples and prays. Perhaps it’s because of the letdown they experience when their expectations go unmet. Maybe it’s just late. The disciples can’t remain awake. Jesus prays three times to His Father in heaven that if it’s possible for Him to save the world from sin without dying on the cross. Jesus struggles with that. It is a great struggle.

Each time, Jesus asks that His Father’s will be done and not His own. That’s important for us to remember. Whenever we pray, we are always praying that God’s will be done. Part of the purpose of our praying is to prepare us to accept God’s will when the answer comes.

Another lesson to be learned is that Jesus persisted in His prayer until the answer came. Like the widow before the unrighteous judge, keep bringing your request before God – until you get an answer. Then act upon that answer. Move on. Don’t continue to pray thinking that you can somehow manipulate God into doing what you desire.

That’s another lesson from the parable of the widow before the unrighteous judge (Luke 18). She got justice because she became a bother. The unrighteous judge gave her justice because he didn’t want to be bothered anymore. Jesus’ conclusion is that if that is the work of an unrighteous judge who cares neither for God nor man, how much more quickly will God answer the prayers of those whom He loves.

When Jesus got His answer (and Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” does a good job with this), His face is set. He is ready to move forward. He is ready for what will happen next. He will go to the cross trusting in His Father’s wisdom and promise.

Men sent from the chief priests and elders come and arrest Jesus. The disciples’ confusion is now replaced with fear. They run. Jesus is left alone just like He said. But He goes forward in confident hope that His Father is at work to accomplish His will – to accomplish the salvation of the world through His death and resurrection.
The Story: Week Twenty-Eight – Day Four
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today we look in on the trials that Jesus endured before Caiaphas, the Council and Pilate. This is also the time when Peter denies knowing Jesus. They actually take Jesus before Annas. Even though Caiaphas, his son-in-law, was high priest at the time, he was given his position by the Romans. The reality was that Annas still retained his standing among the Jews.

So the first trial takes place before Annas at night. And because it took place at night, it violated Jewish law. But those who are convinced they are right are, in their minds, not subject to the law. The end justifies the means. They will have the legal trial at dawn before the whole Council. No official decision is made by Annas. But his intent is made crystal clear making the trial at dawn a mere formality.

It’s also here that Judas realizes what he has done and filled with remorse, he returns the thirty pieces of silver. He confesses his sin to the chief priests and elders. And here we get to see what happens when the word of forgiveness that we are under obligation to share is withheld from one who has confessed. They tell Judas that they don’t care and that his sin is his responsibility. Given no way of escape from his sin, Judas goes out and hangs himself.

The trial before Pilate is comprised of a series of attempts by Pilate to release Jesus because he could find no guilt in Him – no reason to sentence Him to death. Too often, we make Pilate the bad guy. This is really not a trial to determine guilt. It is a political card game. Who has the winning hand? Pilate could have released Jesus and escorted Him with a guard of Roman soldiers out of Jerusalem and back to Galilee. But the Jewish leaders held the winning hand. To keep himself from losing favor with the powers in Rome, Pilate gives in to their demands. Jesus is taken away to be crucified.

The Story: Week Twenty-Eight – Day Five
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is hanging on the cross. He is dying – slowly suffocating on His own body fluids. And those who passed by hurled insults at Him – mocking Him – making fun of Him. Even as Jesus hung on the cross dying for their sin, they continue to try to elevate themselves by pointing out His apparent ineptitude. He saved others, but He can’t save Himself.

And that really is an interesting statement. In their attempts to mock Him, they unwittingly say why He doesn’t save Himself. It is precisely because He is at work to save others (even those who are mocking Him) that He doesn’t save Himself. If He saved Himself, then we would all be lost. The penalty that is ours to bear because of our sin, would fall on us. We would die.

And the death that we would die is not just physical death. We will all suffer that (unless we are still alive at Jesus’ second coming). The death that we would die is the death that Jesus experiences while He still hangs dying on the cross.

When He cries out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He experiences eternal death. He suffers the torments of hell – that total separation from God and His blessings. The Father turns His back on His Son. Jesus is damned – cut off - completely and absolutely alone.

Another detail that is often overlooked is the manner in which Jesus speaks His final words from the cross. He cries out with a loud voice, “It is finished.” It is not the voice of one struggling to breathe because his lungs are filling up with fluid. It is not the quiet voice of resignation. It is the voice of victory. It is Jesus willingly giving up His spirit – willingly dying for us in our place.

All of this is lost on those who watch from a distance. Jesus is dead. And so is their hope. But the story isn’t over. Death doesn’t get the last word.


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