Holy Week: Our Great Hope

By Aaron LeDuc,

(This post is part of our blog series on Holy Week in preparation for Easter 2015.  Click here to find additional posts from this series.)

We’ve been recounting the events of Holy Week this week to illicit deeper worship of Jesus as we draw near to remembering His great sacrifice on Good Friday and celebrating the power and victory of His resurrection on Easter.  On Tuesday, Jesus engages in debates and controversies in the temple; proclaiming not only His authority and intentions in His first coming, but ultimately His authority that transcends time in His intentions to reconcile and redeem all things.  The authority and wisdom of Jesus ultimately silences His critics, and they realize they will have to employ other means to destroy Him (which we’ll see tomorrow).  The passages of Jesus answering the religious leaders and and teaching the people are found in Matthew 21:23-23:30, Mark 11:27-12:44 and Luke 20:1-21:4.

After spending the day in the temple, Jesus and His disciples head out of the city to the Mount of Olives.  As they are leaving, one of the disciples remarks on the grandeur of the temple, which was a magnificent building that wasn’t seen often (if ever) by some of Jesus’ disciples.  In response Jesus says what is possibly the most shocking thing he’s ever said to his disciples, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2 ESV)

The disciples must have imagined that something cataclysmic would happen for this incredible structure that God cared so much about to be torn down.  As they sat on the Mount of Olives, Jesus talks to them about not only the coming destruction of the temple, which would happen in 70 AD, but about the end of all things, when He would return in glory and judgement and power.  Jesus’ proclamations of increasing persecution and tribulation leading up to the final day of judgement are found in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-36.

To hear more on the nature of all of these events, listen to our recent sermons through Mark 13:

How hard it must’ve been for the disciples living on the precipice of the most important event in history!  Can you imagine what your response would have been as Jesus taught in this way?  My heart would have been rife with excitement, anticipation, and dread, as it sometimes is as I think of Jesus’ second coming.  God’s promise of redemption for the world has been slowly blossoming from the seed of the promise in the garden to the fullness of reconciliation at the return of Christ.  To be anywhere in that story is thrilling, but I’m comforted that we as the church of Jesus today have further detail as to the nature of the promise.  

What are you looking forward to or hoping in today?  As we look forward to things, we place hope in what those things are going to bring to us.  Every horizon we set our eyes on we anticipate in hope, and then it passes and it’s behind us.  If you’re a follower of Christ, your life is not built on passing hopes.  It’s built on an ultimate hope in the promise of the return of Jesus to make all things new.  The fact of the matter is that there is only one hope that will truly satisfy our souls and satiate our thirst.  That hope is Jesus Christ. 

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis wrote, "If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world.”  Worship Jesus today for the wonderful hope that He’s given you through His death and resurrection.  Revel in the wonderful promises made by Christ to satisfy your deepest desires and to give your life ultimate and eternal purpose.  Then do something about it.  We aren’t given this great hope only to revel and delight, but to act in faith that we believe that our hope is founded in something that is actually worth hoping in.  This might mean talking to your neighbors, co-workers, family or friends about this hope.  It might mean actually fighting to mortify sin in your life, instead of passively accepting it.  It might mean responding to something hard that God is calling you to.  Spend some time in thoughtful prayer asking God to show you how He’d have you apply this great hope to your life.  

Tomorrow the darkness descends as the plans to put Jesus to death on the cross are solidified. 

-Aaron

Holy Week: The Righteous Anger of the Son of God

By Aaron LeDuc,

(This post is part of our blog series on Holy Week in preparation for Easter 2015.  Click here to find additional posts from this series.)

Yesterday, I wrote about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; His final entrance into that city on His way to the cross.  Monday was the day that Jesus went into the temple and cleaned house; an action that further garnered the praise of the people and further incensed the Pharisees.  Jesus visited the temple late in the day on Palm Sunday, so he knew what He would find when He arrived there Sunday: merchants targeting pilgrims visiting Jerusalem to profit greatly on their religious devotion.  Filled with passion for the glory of His Father and the purity of the temple, Jesus overturns tables and forcibly removes the unscrupulous swindlers.  He declares that the temple has been profaned and turned into a den of robbers, when it should be a house of prayer.

Take some time to read the accounts of Jesus cleansing the temple in Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18 and Luke 18:45-48.

The people (especially devoted disciples of Jesus) must have been thrilled to see Jesus acting as the Messiah should; challenging the doldrums and hierarchy of tradition without passion.  And though He seems to be setting things right, all that’s happening in the minds of the religious leaders in Jerusalem is a confirmation of their desire to be rid of Him.

There’s all sorts of ways that we can reflect on this scene, but I want to focus on the righteous anger of Jesus and His zeal for the holiness of God.  If your faith is in Jesus, how often do you remember that God no longer resides in the temple in Jerusalem, but through the Holy Spirit He resides in YOU?  We can be so tempted to treat sin with a kind of indifferent passivity as opposed to the violent reproach that we see coming from our Lord.  I see Jesus so indignant at the blasphemies against His name and wonder how often I’m willing to wage war on my sin in the same way.  As we approach Good Friday and Easter, let us be people that are pursing holy obedience to Christ through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to the glory of our Heavenly Father.  As you meditate on God’s work in your life, pray for His help to have this same kind of contempt for your sin and to make true strides in holy obedience.  

Listen to our recent sermon on the Jesus cleansing the temple in our sermon series through Mark.

-Aaron

The Pursuit of Holiness

By Jason McConahy,

This last weekend we spoke about how important it is that our pursuit of holiness be driven by the glories of the gospel.  I quoted from an article written by Jerry Bridges.  If you are interested in reading this helpful article called "Gospel-Driven Sanctification," you can access it if you Click Here.