Passage: Mark 14:3-9
Key verse: Mark 14:3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.
In the days leading up to Jesus’ death on the cross, He taught some of the greatest lessons of His earthly ministry. At Bethany, days before His crucifixion, Jesus was annointed for burial by a woman willing to give all she had. Here we can all learn about sacrifice.
While some plotted to kill Jesus, His disciples remained in denial about His certain death, despite many warnings. The woman at Bethany, however, stood apart from everyone else. Her concern was not with who would be the greatest, or how much money she could get for selling her oil. Her mind was set on full devotion to Jesus. Sitting at the feet of the Lord, she annointed Him with the costly oil. It’s a picture of how much more He meant to her than her earthly possessions did.
Are you willing to give it all in full devotion to Jesus Christ? Can you say that you’ve given your whole life to Him? Is following Him more important than anything else? Jesus gave Himself, suffering on a cross, willing to be considered cursed, for the sake of our reconciliation with God. Heaven was bankrupted of its most precious treasure all for us. Now what are we willing to give up?
Mark 16:1-8 1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Are you looking for Jesus? Does it seem to be a lost cause; a search that will never produce any results? Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place. Jesus isn’t in the tomb. He is risen.
Sometimes we have a tendency to make up our own theology, our own doctrine that we think fits our beliefs better than what the Bible actually says. We make up traits for Jesus that were never true of Him. We create our own false Jesus. But the power of the gospel to save lies in the truth of who Jesus Christ really is and what He really did.
It’s hard to swallow, the fact that God came down to earth in the form of a human man and that He lived a perfect life. It’s harder still to believe that He would sacrifice His own life in place of ours so that we can be reconciled to God. Hardest of all to grasp is the idea that He rose again from the dead. That He lives even still today, reigning over all things. But that’s our hope. Without it we have nothing.
The hope you and I have that we can one day be with God through resurrection is the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. If our Savior is dead, then we’re doomed. But if our Savior lives, then we too can live on forever. Since He DOES live, we have hope that we can cling to. Jesus’ resurrection is a truth that changes everything.
Passage: Matthew 28:1-10
Key verses: Matthew 28:6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
The truth about the work of Christ on the cross, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reconciliation with God is that it all means nothing if our God is still lying in a tomb. Jesus can’t mediate between God and man if He’s dead. If His death is the end, then we’re no better off.
But – our God lives. He isn’t dead. Death couldn’t hold Him. Hell couldn’t defeat Him. He is risen. He lives. And because He lives, we live. Jesus’ departure back into heaven is hope for us all that we’ll be resurrected as well, taken from this life into the next, never to die again. But it means something now too.
Because Jesus departed, God sent the Holy Spirit to live within us. His departure means we now act on His behalf as Christians, and He’s empowered us to do so. No other religion on earth can make these claims because no other religion has a living Savior. We have a God so loving that He would sacrifice His Son in our place, and that God is so powerful that death cannot be the end for Him. HE IS RISEN!
Passage: John 19:28-30
Key verses: Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Since the sin of our first parents, we’ve been on the path of destruction. Only perfection can enter into the kingdom of heaven and we’re tainted. Our sinful nature bought for us a ticket straight to eternity away from God. But the story doesn’t end there.
You see, God couldn’t let it end that way. He loved His creation far too much to let us have what we deserved, so in the ultimate act of love, Jesus became flesh, God bankrupted heaven of its treasure, and He delivered us from destruction. Our debt was paid in His sacrifice. Everything we owed was paid in full when He died on that cross. He transferred us to His kingdom, a life spent with God, not apart from Him. He redeemed us.
In Christ we have full forgiveness. Our slate is clean, our record is wiped out. We owe Him everything, because He has set us free. In Him we have life. His death finished the work that He was sent here to do. But still the story doesn’t end there. No, that part of the story gets us to Friday – but Sunday is the part that makes it all mean something. Sunday is the main event.
Passage: Luke 23:26-49
Key verses: Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Entire courses are taught at universities just to try and explain Jesus’ work on the cross. The atonement is not easy to understand, but it is simple. God came down to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, and then died as the one true spotless sacrifice that could take away our sins. Without this one truth, all the rest falls apart.
Jesus took on our sins. Read that again. Jesus, the perfect Son of God, took on our sins upon Himself. He took our punishment, bought our redemption. That is the only reason you and I will ever see heaven. It’s not because of how many good deeds we did or how nice we are. It’s because we were bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. Let that sink in. Weep over the fact that it was necessary.
My sins nailed Him to that cross. Your sins drove those spikes in. Our rejection of God killed Him. And He chose to be there. As the one, true, all-powerful God, He could have ended this any way He wanted. But He chose the cross. He chose suffering in our place. Because He loved us. Even before we existed. That’s the truth of the cross.
Passage: John 18:33-40
Key verse: John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
After He had been betrayed by one of His closest friends, Jesus was sent to trial before the leaders of both the empire and the kingdom. Tossed back and forth between Herod and Pilate, Jesus remained quiet and did not defend Himself, though at any moment He could have burst out of His chains and ascended into heaven or done some other sort of miraculous act. He acted in complete humility, though He was a king.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords stood on trial before earthly leaders as corrupt as they come, as though they had any real right to judge Him. As though they had any authority over Him. In an instant, Jesus could have put them in their place, but He remained quiet. Then, when He chose to speak, He revealed His purpose.
Jesus came to bear witness to the truth. He came to reveal God to man. He was and is the true image-bearer of God. He is the image of the invisible God, come to earth as a lowly man. He gave up His rights to a kingdom on earth to fulfill His real purpose. A purpose that involves a heavenly kingdom, far beyond anything Herod or Pilate could ever imagine.
Passage: John 17:1-26
Key verse: John 17:1:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Before the creation of the world, Jesus was. Before time began, Jesus was. And then, the Eternal One who holds all things in balance did something extraordinary – He stepped into time and took on human flesh. He gave up all the glory of heaven so that we could know God. He gave up many of His rights as God, but one thing He did not give up – His love for us.
While on this earth, Jesus loved His own just as He loved them in heaven. In His last hours, He prayed a beautiful prayer, first for His close followers and then for you and me. He knew He was betrayed, He knew He would die, and He knew that you and I would sin against Him. But He prayed a high priestly prayer for our joy in Him, our unity in Him, our sanctification in Him.
Then Jesus gave us an idea of what salvation is all about. He died that we might be where He is, that we may see His glory and therefore glorify the Father. This was the plan before time began. He’s always loved us, before we even existed. And though we have sinned against Him, He chose to die in our place, taking our sins onto Himself, so that we can experience eternal life with Him. Oh what love He has for us.
Passage: Luke 22:54-62
Key verses: Luke 22:61-62 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
After all Jesus had done for Peter, how could he deny his Lord? That’s the question we all ask, isn’t it? How could this man who walked so closely with the Son of God deny even knowing Him? But the truth is, Jesus did more for you and me than He did for Peter and even we deny Him. The real question is: How could WE?
At the time of Peter’s denial, Jesus had yet to suffer on a cross, taking on the sins of the world, dying that we might have reconciliation with God. But in our time, He has already paid that price, finished that purpose. We have all the more reason to give Him the praise due Him, but instead we sometimes choose our own way and leave Him out of the equation.
The good news for Peter is that Christ still died for him, despite his denial. Later, He even gave Peter a chance to redeem himself (John 21:15-19). The good news for us is that He did die for our sake and we’re still able to call on Him. Just like for Peter, our denial is not the end of the story. Right now, at this moment, we can follow Him.
Passage: John 13:1-20
Key verse: Matthew 26:21 And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
No one, in the history of mankind, ever experienced the level of betrayal that the Son of God did. Would you agree? Nothing you’ve ever faced comes close to His time on earth. Yet look at how Jesus dealt with those who betrayed Him, denied Him, abandoned Him, falsely accused Him, beat Him, tortured Him, and killed Him.
In light of the fact that Jesus knew all things before they occurred, John 13:1 is particularly powerful. Knowing full well how His own disciples would treat Him, He “loved them to the end”. Wow. Park there for a minute.
With all knowledge that Peter would deny Him, that Judas would betray Him, and that the rest would run away, Jesus knelt down before each of them, taking on the role of a servant, and washed the feet of each man.
What right on this earth do you and I have to be unforgiving toward anyone who’s wronged us? We have to be amazed at this action and attitude by Jesus because He of all people did have the right to judge and withhold forgiveness. Can we follow His example?
Passage: Matthew 26:26-29
Key verse: Matthew 26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Long before Jesus’ earthly ministry, God made a covenant with His people (Exodus 24:8). In Christ, that covenant was fulfilled and a new covenant was made. No longer would the Lord’s people be forced to make sacrifices upon an altar. Once and for all, the ultimate sacrifice was paid. Jesus was sent to be the only sacrifice that could ever truly cleanse us of our sin. He is the spotless lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Before being led off to die a horrifying death, Jesus ate one last meal with His closest followers. Here He gave them a picture of what was to happen, whether they understood it or not. His instructions to them were to remember Him through the practice of taking communion, the Lord’s Supper. The bread is symbolic of His broken body that was sacrificially given for our sake. The wine, His blood, that poured out as He was tortured in our place.
As Easter approaches, reflect on what Christ gave so that you and I can live free and in communion with God. We have life because He gave His, let’s remember all that entails regularly and practice that remembrance with others.