Read through the lesson below (if you are in a group take turns reading). Then have a discussion, possible questions are included at the end. If you are alone, try to pair up with others in a small group though texting or even a phone call.
Welcome to Easter 2020! Yes, it is very different from the past Easters. We are all staying home and watching services online. But we are not alone! We are not in this alone! God is still God, the Holy Spirit has not changed, Jesus still died on the cross and most importantly He is still Risen.
We may be separated, but we are not isolated. The Church is still the Church and I encourage you to reach out to friends, family, and your brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet let’s not just stop there, Let’s reach out to those who are in a world of darkness that do not know that they don’t have to be alone.
What was different? On the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem, that First Holy Week what was different? This is what I want to speak to you about today in this very different time we are facing. What was different that week. It was a trek that Jesus had taken before. We see in Scripture that Jesus had been there even as a child. I can imagine He had taken this walk into Jerusalem before, maybe through another gate or at other times than Passover, but still there was something even more different this time. We read of His entering in Luke 19:36-40.
“As He rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As He was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
‘Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!’
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out’” Luke 19:36-40 (NRSV).
We see that others treated Him different. They worshiped Him shouting Hosanna; in essence shouting savior, save us, rescue us. They worshiped Him. Remember He had just left Lazarus’ house. Many knew of what He had done there. And now many worshiped Him.
Next in line, in the book of Luke, we see that Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. He weeps, He speaks of the coming destruction because of their failure to see and hear the words of the prophets. He is looking forward even as those who are worshiping Him see Him as their rescuer. He sees what is coming. So, what is different this time as He enters Jerusalem? It is that He sees what others do not see. He sees the week unfolding. Not once, not twice, but three times Jesus has told His disciples of His death. They do not see it, but He does, yet He still goes.
We see Jesus looking forward, He predicts His death, Peter’s betrayal, the fear over the end of the earth. He institutes the Lord’s Supper to remember.
"When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays Him.’ They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest” Luke 22:14-24 (NIV).
Again, He was looking forward to what was unfolding knowing what was to come. His disciples were looking forward not to what was unfolding, but to what they thought and dreamed it would be. He was setting in place a way for the New Covenant to be celebrated instead of the Old Covenant of Passover. What was different, a new Passover, a new Lamb, a new Sacrament, a new way of forgiveness—a new Lamb’s blood to keep death away was coming.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prays, “not my will but your will.” We see, His vision is forward looking, yet He still goes. In these passages we really start to see that Jesus knew what was coming. Of course it is easy for us to see this through our ‘After Resurrection’ eyes, but it was still a hard battle to fight. Jesus sweated blood over this.
"They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’” Mark 14:32-42 (NRSV)
He was not just looking ahead to what was going to unfold this week or in the next day, but He was looking ahead to what was happening for eternity. I guess we could also say, He was looking back and ahead, back as far as the Garden of Eden and the fall of humanity and forward through all of eternity when He said, “not my will but Thine be done.” That is what was different, that He, even knowing what was unfolding, entered freely into it. He suffered for me, He freely suffered for you.
Why? Because He knew that someday you would be setting here today in need of Him. That you would need His Spirit to be with you as we are separated. That you would need His strength in your time of need, time of fear, and time of uncertainty. What was different is the same as what is different today. What was different was… that you needed Him, Savior, Rescuer, Jesus!
Oh, what else is also different, is That He is Risen!
1. Do you still think that it was just the nails that held Him on that cross that day?
2. How does “yet not my will but Thine” make you feel about Jesus' week before the cross?
3. How does His resurrection look to you knowing what He suffered and what He freely did knowing what was coming make you feel?