The week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is called Holy Week. The events it commemorates are right at the heart of our faith. If we want to take our faith to work then you and I need to reflect on God’s most intensive week of work since creation.
It started well with the triumphant entrance into the city, which
would make any publicist proud. For a minimal budget (maybe some
donkey food) and free transportation, maximum impact had been
achieved. The clearance of the temple generated negative publicity but
also showed that the boss meant business, and wouldn’t allow
unethical business practices (another lesson from Holy Week). The
week of debates, demonstrations and conflicts culminated in an illegal
trial on unfounded charges and a corrupt execution.
So was this week’s work a success? Had Jesus realised His potential?
Had He worked well?
From a low budget entrance to Jerusalem he had gone to the highest
cost of all in losing his life. So what price success, and what is success,
and how can we learn lessons from this week for all of our weeks?
Here are four suggestions:
Firstly, success cannot be defined in itself but by what is successful for you.
What is successful for you can only be defined if you have figured out
the will of God and followed it. When Jesus said, “Not My will but
yours,” he already knew what his Father wanted. Success was to
follow it, whatever the cost.
Secondly, success can only be seen with the eyes of the spirit. Empty
tombs, visits from the Lord, pouring out of the Spirit and rescuing of
wanderers are the measures of the success of Holy Week. See only a
trial, execution, persecution, and scattering and you miss the point.
Success in your job this week will be related to the unseen
achievements, the connections to an invisible Kingdom. Earn money
and make money by all legitimate means but make sure you can see a
spiritual dynamic in your finances. Achieve your targets and score
your goals, whatever that means in your job, but make sure you can
catch a glimpse of the spiritual value you are adding.
Thirdly, if you want to succeed you will have to battle. Jesus fought His
own human terror in the garden. He faced human opposition the
whole week. He battled the darkness on the cross. He won, and we
share the spoils but we also take up the cause. The next project
which throws up ethical dilemmas or leaves you as a lone voice will
remind you of this. When you struggle to find balance or peace in a
stressed week, don’t forget the battle. And when you are tempted to
give up remember the garden. Success is not always pretty, it usually
leaves its scars.
Fourthly, success involves recognising the energy of hope. Rewards may
come now or later, but they will come. Jesus saw the joy ahead and
therefore could go through with the cross. God’s pleasure in him will be
repeated in us. Our certain hope is that our long-term future is not
only secure but bright beyond imagination.
You may feel as if you are sweating alone in a garden now, but God
has a reserved seat for you. It has been paid for and it’s the best seat
in the house. That’s the genius of Holy Week. That’s the success
we’ve always wanted.
Matthew 21:1- 17
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
4 This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet:
5 “Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” 17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Matthew 27: 11- 26
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. 12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. 15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Hebrews 12: 1- 3
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
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