The Clashing of Kingdoms

Let’s look at the events that led to the Triumphal Entry, Passion Week, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. In John 11 Jesus is called to Bethany to heal Lazarus and he delays until Lazarus has died…doesn’t seem like a very “Jesus thing” to do.

However, Jesus knows it is for God’s Glory and will stir the religious pot so to speak. He arrives and calls Lazarus forth from the tomb…and Lazarus walks out after being dead 4 days!  Jesus literally raises Lazarus from the dead! This sounds more like it.

I would want to follow this guy at least as long as He’s doing miracles and raising the dead and feeding thousands with meager means (John 6). Of course the religious zealots and leaders knew what this meant. The masses would follow after Jesus so they conspired to kill Him.

The leaders worst nightmare came true on Palm Sunday when the throngs exalted and worshiped Jesus as He rode through Jerusalem on a donkey, which was a prophetic proclamation of His royalty. (Zechariah 9:9)

Jesus’ Kingdom was revealed in the power of raising Lazarus from the dead and the people wanted to make that an earthly kingdom and just knew that He was The One that would make it happen…both the leaders who knew they would lose power and the common folks who just knew they would gain power. This is the clash of Kingdoms and both the leaders and the masses were wrong because they only saw an earthly, fleshly kingdom.

Jesus came to establish His Kingdom that would last forever. Which Kingdom/ kingdom are you seeking and a part of? Your answer matters for Eternity! I pray that you know Him for what He revealed about His Father and by His Spirit and not by what you think He ought to be and do to satisfy your fleshly longings.

As we contemplate Passion Week, we’re stepping away from the specific focus on the Love & Lordship message (although not really because all of His Word is about His Love & Lordship) to set our hearts and minds on Christ’s last week on this earth during His first visit.

You ever thought about the fact that nearly half of the Gospel of John (12-20) covers just one week (actually 8 days) of His 33 years on earth.  Must have been important…it begins with Palm Sunday and moves through Christ’s Resurrection.

Palm Sunday

What a seemingly glorious day when Jesus rode through Jerusalem to the throngs of “worshipers” who proclaimed him as “coming in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel” (John 12:12-19, emphasis v. 13). Obviously they had finally accepted that He was the Son of God, the Savior of the world and the King of kings…or had they?

As was evident throughout the Gospels what the people, including His disciples,  were looking for in The Messiah, a Savior and a King was one that would rule here and now and they would “rule” or at least receive the benefits of this Jewish Messiah King that would rule the world.

You see it? It wasn’t really about the King but about them. Palm Sunday seemed like a victory, as “the whole world was going after Him” (John 12:19) but it was really revealing the selfishness of hearts that wanted a king that would suit them… and that’s what we see as it began to go sideways throughout Passion Week.

How about you? Are you serving a savior and lord of your own making, a Messiah, that works for you, fits your agenda and makes things all good for you? Or are you serving Christ for His sake and glory?

Passion Week (John 13) – Messages from The Upper Room

As we continue to look at all the incredible teachings and events of Christ during His final week on earth there is one that perhaps is more moving than anything other than His actual sacrifice on The Cross for us.

In John 13 Jesus shows us very prominently what His Love is like…

  • 1) Love – Jesus love is whole and we should pay close attention to what follows (v. 1)
  • 2) Humility – Jesus knows Who He Is (Humility) and nothing changes that (v. 3)
  • 3) Servant’s Heart – In His loving humility He serves His disciples in the lowliest of ways by washing their sweaty, dirty feet (vv. 4-5)
  • 4) Authority – He reminds them that He is the Authority as they see Him and He agrees with them (vv. 12-13)
  • 5) Discipleship – He describes the blessings of living in humble loving service and true authority when they (we) follow His example as His disciples (vv. 14-17)

In line with the Love & Lordship message allow me the leeway to express the following…Jesus was not only washing His disciples’ feet but as the fathers and founders of His Church, He was washing His Bride’s feet!

Remember that instead of siloing or isolating each of the characteristics or virtues above as we do in our culture and churches, He clearly brings them all together to show us how it is done in His Kingdom. We would do well to heed this wisdom and command to love as He loves us (John 13:34)!

Finally in John 13 we see that Jesus expressed all this love to even the one He knew would betray Him…that’s the kind of Love that we need and it only comes from Him.

Regarding Passion Week, scripture moves from Palm Sunday to Thursday.  We don’t hear anything about Monday through Wednesday of that week but go directly to the Upper Room and the Last Supper Jesus instituted with His disciples and for His Church.  The latter part of John 13 deals with Jesus predicting Judas betrayal and Peter’s denial.  Often we tend to see these two as the worst culprits for their actions but remember we find out in other Gospels that when the going got tough all the disciples abandoned Him.

What does that say to us as His followers and Church today?  Are we claiming to enjoy the pseudo-fellowship of “church” while running and hiding when the culture comes against Christ and His Truth?  We have allowed the culture to back us into a corner and for the most part are fearful of what they may do if we speak God’s Truth without compromise.

As we continue with Passion Week we find in John 14-17 some of the most powerful lessons that we need to learn and adhere to in our walk as Christ’s disciples just as He was encouraging and challenging those first disciples that He chose.

Here is a summary of the messages from The Upper Room:

  1. Jesus knows what His disciples were about to face (and knows what we are facing today) and he comforts them, encourages them that He and The Father are one, and promises The Holy Spirit to them and all who believe (John 14).  Are you encouraged by The Father, Son and Spirit in your daily walk?
  2. Jesus teaches 3 potent lessons in John 15…A) Our relationship (as branches) to Him (The Vine) and that apart from Him we can do nothing (vv. 1-11).  Are you trying to produce fruit for His Kingdom when He’s the Only One who can? B) Our relationships to one another as believers  (vv. 12-17).  Are you loving those in His Church as He loves you?  C) Our relationship with the world (vv. 18-26).  Are you trying to make your Christianity fit in and be accepted by the world or are you willing to stand firm on His Truth knowing that those of the world will hate the message and even hate you?
  3. Jesus warns them of how the world will respond to their message, promises The Holy Spirit a second time at this Last Supper (maybe we should pay attention to our need for this), and reassures us of answered prayers because of His and The Father’s relationship (John 16).  How are you doing when it comes to sharing a message that the world so badly needs but doesn’t like to hear?
  4. He closes this time out by reinforcing all of this in the Prayer of Unity or High Priestly Prayer (as it’s come to be known).  He does this by praying in the unity that He has with the Father and asking The Father for the unity of the disciples in Him and for all of us who come to know Him as Savior and Lord through their Gospel message!  Praise The Lord!  But He doesn’t stop there; He also prays for them (and we as believers) to be sanctified or set apart in His Word of Truth and reassures them that as they (and we) walk in unity with Him and one another, of the glory they will share with Him (John 17)!

Have we grasped the reality that all of Jesus prayers were and are answered because He prayed always in line with The Father’s will.  If we are not working toward the unity that He prayed for in line with His Spirit and Truth then we are not part of the answer to His prayer.  Continuing with Passion Week we come to…

Judas’ Betrayal, Jesus Trial, Peter’s Denial and Pilate

The words that Jesus spoke to and prayed for His disciples and for us in The Upper Room we find out were very much needed and initially unheeded by those closest to Him.  (John 18). 

As He is praying in the garden, Judas leads a band to betray Him over to the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers (vv. 1-11).  How often do I betray Him when the going gets tough rather than standing on His Truth no matter what?

Jesus is then led before “mock” proceedings before the religious leaders that had already been predetermined, even though no witnesses could agree.  Since they needed to rubber stamp this with the Roman authorities they took him to Pilate where it continues with a “mock trial” with the same outcome already set in motion.  Jesus is convicted and sentenced while a murderous rebel, Barabbas, is set free.  In the middle of this we find Peter denying Christ three times when the pressure was on him to reveal his association with Christ (vv. 12-40).

How would you have reacted if you were Peter?  How do you handle it today?

Passion Week closes with “Good” Friday?

What was one of the worst days in all of history, and eternity for that matter, has come to be called “Good Friday.”  How so?  Because when all the evil and sin of the world, our flesh and our enemy, satan, seemed to have won the war, God, through Jesus, flipped the script. 

I hope you know that it was actually Jesus choice to willingly lay down His life (John 10:18) for you and me and all who would put their faith in Him.

As we jump forward to John 19 we see the horrific events that lead up to Christ’s crucifixion. Abandoned by His closest friends; the crowds who just a few days before laid palm branches and coats in His path in worship of him cry out for His death; He is beaten, mocked and spit upon by soldiers and a crown of thorns driven into His beaten head; He is flogged (Matthew, Mark and Luke all record this violent beating); finally, He’s nailed to a wooden beam and left to die.  How can this be good?

Because everything He did was for me and for you so that we would not have to face the consequences of our sins.  What was horribly excruciating for Him was the greatest gift ever given to us…to all who by grace through faith accept His sacrifice for their sins and walk by that same grace and faith with Him as Savior and Lord.

And that leads us to the new beginnings on the First day of the next week…

Resurrection Day!

Praise The Lord for His victory over sin, death and hell!  Praise Him that all who believe that He is the Savior of the world and King of kings and Lord of Lords share in that victory even as we continue to struggle through the trials and pains of this world and our flesh. 

John 20 records His resurrection and appearance to His disciples after He rose from the dead.  Matthew tells us the incredible message this way, “He is risen, just as He said” (Matthew 28:6)!

The Apostle Paul shared in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 that the risen Christ appeared to over 500 men and women, including the special revelation to Paul himself!

Our hope and faith is not in vain…He is risen and lives in me and all who believe in His incarnation, life, message, death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:14)!  

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – What will you do with the crucified and risen Christ?  Will you put your faith in Him?  Do you believe so much that you want others to know Him?  It’s a matter of life and death for both now and eternity!

Love and Lordship…Action Item(s)

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you Who Jesus is.
  2. If you don’t know Christ as Savior, pray about receiving Him as such.
  3. If you know Christ as Savior, pray about your walking with Him as Lord.
  4. Find a same gender Christian friend to walk this path with you!