Journey to the Empty Tomb…Tuesday

Matthew 21:21-22

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Matthew 22:37-40

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 26:10-13

10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Tuesday was a busy day for Jesus. He begins by teaching about faith as the disciples see the withered fig tree. Then He goes into the temple where the Pharisees seek to undermine His authority and teaching. He speaks on the second coming, giving, and hypocrisy among many other things. The day ends in Bethany again at Simon the Lepers house where the woman comes with her alabaster box and anoints Him in adoration and worship.

There is too much truth packed into these verses to eat it all in one bite, but I think we can take a couple of them and ask the Lord to continue to prepare our hearts as we Journey to the Empty Tomb. When we are faced with the truths of scripture we should find ourselves at a crisis moment. We can respond and be transformed, or we can ignore and remain the same. There are three areas that stand out to me today that, if we respond to them, will help transform our hearts as we grow in our relationship with Christ; Faith, Love, and Worship.

When the disciples saw the withered fig tree they were amazed. Jesus takes this opportunity to teach them what faith is capable of. He tells them that the faith of a mustard seed is enough to see God work in powerful ways as we reach out to Him in prayer. There are two reason we do not see the miraculous in our lives. One is we do not take the time to pray in faith. Scripture tells us we can come boldly before His throne, but too many times we are content to remain in the courtyard. The second is we write God’s miracles off as coincidence. The disciples did not say, “Wow, would you look at that! Jesus just said that this tree would be cursed and today it is withered! What a crazy coincidence!” William Temple, when critics wrote his answered prayers off as coincidences said, ““When I pray, coincidences happen; when I don’t, they don’t.” Jesus is tells that we need to Pray Faithfully!

When the Lawyer came up to Christ and asked which commandment was the most important. Jesus’ answer revealed God’s heart to us in regard to the Law. He taught them that to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Deut 6:5) and love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev 19:18) were the greatest since they sum up the entire law. If we love God supremely, we will not take His name in vain, turn to idols or neglect worship of Him. If we love our neighbor we will not steal, kill or covet. Christ is calling us love God Obediently!

Then, when the woman came and made her costly offering by anointing Christ, she shows us what our worship should like like. We want to make worship into an emotional experience  rather than a volitional sacrifice. As she poured out her worship on Jesus, she did not think of the cost, consider it a waste or care what others thought. She knew the price that Jesus was about to pay – and this moved her to Worship Extravagantly!

Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ, let us respond to His truth and allow it to transform us as we pray faithfully, love obediently and worship extravagantly. If we wish to prepare to celebrate the resurrection this Sunday, we will take some time this week and ask the Spirit to reveal any hypocritical tendency and change us as we Journey to the Empty Tomb.

To learn more about the Tuesday of Passion week read Matthew 21:18-26:16, Mark 11:20-14:11 and Luke 20:1-22:6.

Journey to the Empty Tomb…Monday

Matthew 21:12-14, 19

12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

After Jesus entered into Jerusalem and formally announced His Messiahship, He went to Bethany to rest. The next day He returned and did some things that I think we need to take note of as we Journey toward the Empty Tomb and focus our hearts and minds on Christ. He Cleansed the Temple, and Cursed Fig Tree.

The first makes sense. He went into the temple and found the money changers busy taking advantage of the people. There were two things that were going on here that help us understand Jesus’ righteous anger. Historians tells us that one of the reason they were there were to exchange the roman currency for jewish currency to make their offering acceptable at the temple. Of course they did this at an over-inflated exchange rate and were taking advantage of the worshippers. There were also those who sold animals to be sacrificed. Some would travel with their own offering, but they would be examined and a flaw would inevitably be found making it useless as a sacrifice. So they had no choice but to purchase an animal from the temple. You can kind of relate it to those tourist trap souvenir shop that will get you to purchase an $2 item for 10 times what is worth.

This is the second time that Jesus sees this and takes action by driving out the those who were robbing the people and overturning the tables (See John 2:13-16). They had commercialized temple worship and Christ would have none of it! Instead he sat down and began to teach and heal those who came to him.

The second thing Jesus did takes a little more thought. He found a fig tree that had sprouted its leaves and approached it thinking to get a fig. When He gets to it He finds it is fruitless. He cursed the fig tree in the hearing of His disciples, saying that it would never again bear fruit. The tree was found the next day withered.

So, let’s look at these two events and ask ourselves, what is scripture telling us that we can apply and help us prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. First the cleansing of the temple. Jesus’ actions shows us His fervent desire for the temple of God to be used as a place that draws others to the Father. He wasted no time in removing everything that was attempting to steal God’s Glory for mans ambition. I think we need to ask Jesus to do the same things in our temple. Paul tells us that our body is the temple of God (1Cor 6:19) and should serve the purpose of Glorifying God. What motivations do we need to ask God to cleans from our lives? What tables need to be overturned? What idols need to be eradicated? What needs to happen in our hearts to help us worship Him?

For the Fig Tree…Why did Jesus curse it? Because it was not bearing fruit! It looked good on the outside, had all the visible markers of health, but no figs. It was not doing what He had created it to do. John 15:8 tells us that one of the primary ways we bring Glory to God is through bearing spiritual fruit – because that is what He has created us to do! Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal 5:22-23) are all fruit that Christ should see in our lives. It doesn’t matter how good we look on the outside – If these are missing then we are not fulfilling God’s design.

Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ, let us ask ourselves two questions. One – what does Christ need to drive out of my heart so that God can be glorified as we are used to point others to the healing grace of Christ. Two – am I fulfilling God’s design for my life by allowing the Spirit to produce fruit. As we Journey together toward the Empty Tomb, may the Lord prepare our hearts to worship Him.

Read the events of day 2 of Passion week: Matthew 21:12-19, Mark 11:12-19 and Luke 19:45-48.

Journey To the Empty Tomb – Sunday

Matthew 21:8-11

8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

For many, the days leading up to Easter is full of activity. Some are preparing for family to come into town. Some are coloring eggs and putting together baskets for their children. Some are shopping for an easter dress or suit to wear to church on Sunday. Churches are busy with cantatas, orders of service, special singing and messages to prepare to an influx of visitors.

For Jesus this week was filled with activity too. From the Sunday of His Triumphal Entry to the Sunday of His Resurrection, Jesus was working, ministering, preaching and preparing. Each step was leading Him closer to the arrest, cross, burial, and the empty tomb. For the next 7 days we are going to focus on each day and learn some truths that can change the way we prepare for Easter.

Sunday marks the first day of Passion week as Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time during his earthly ministry, but this time would be different. This time He would present Himself to the people as the long awaited Son of David – the King. He would ride in on a donkey in fulfillment of Jeremiah 9:9 to the cheers of the people. “Hosanna in the highest” they proclaimed. But this was not the entrance of a conquering king, it was the entrance of a Savior. Jesus was troubled; He new that the fickle voices that yelled “Hosanna” now would change their tune in a just a few days. “Crucify Him” they would say.

We know what is going to happen. He will be arrested, tried, crucified, buried and resurrected. We wonder at their lack of faith as they welcome Him only to turn their backs on Him. He wasn’t what they expected – someone who would cast off the chains of Rome and once again exalt the nation of Israel. He had not come to conquer – He had come to save. And because He did not fit into their idea of what they thought He should be, they turned away.

If I am honest, I know that I am not much different than these people. I was so excited to welcome the King into my life. The day I excepted Christ almost 22 years ago was an exciting time. Reading my bible, praying, going to church, and witnessing to others came as a joy, and not as a struggle. Today, I have a tendency to forget that I have invited the King of the universe to sit on the throne of my heart and return back to life as usual. On this Palm Sunday, I need to renew my commitment to the King who has conquered sin and death and now desires to be glorified in me.

Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ, take some time to pray. Ask God to strip away all the pretense, and pomp of our worship and reveal the true condition of our heart. It is my prayer on this Palm Sunday that the Lord renews my spirit and commitment to Him as I cry out “Hosanna in the Highest”.

Take some time and mediate on the passages regarding Christ’s Triumphal Entry. Matthew 21:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, Mark 11:1-11, and John 12:12-50