— The grace of God, Passion Week —
• This week marks the beginning of what we call the Passion week. Passion refers to strong emotion or intense love, but the Latin “passio” means to endure suffering. So the events recorded of this week show us both, the intense love of Jesus the suffering he endured for us.
• We’ve been talking all month about grace and the vast difference between grace and Law. Law says you have to; grace says you get to. Law says, “It’s up to you”; grace says, “Let me help you.”
• The first time grace is mentioned is in Gen. 6:8, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” That is a picture of our salvation. The whole world had become completely evil and as God looked into every heart, he found one man who who believed him and received His grace, and he was saved by that grace, just like we are today. So grace goes back to the very beginning, even before the Law.
• God looked at Noah and saw one person who wanted to live right when literally no one else in the world did, and he received God’s grace to do it. We can too. It doesn’t matter if your whole work place is filled with people who don’t want to do right, you can and you’ll have the grace to do it.
• Grace is more than something that helps us through a tough time. It’s not a formula or a force. The Bible says that, “The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 NKJV
• God gave us the Law but He sent His Son.
• Grace is a person, Jesus.
• Jesus is divine assistance for daily living.
• Jesus is God’s riches at Christ’s expense.
• Jesus is our access to unmerited favor. He is Grace.
• So we’re going to look at what Grace did for us during the Passion week and the important truths we can live out.
The night before Day 1
• Besides being with His disciples, it’s believed that Jesus spent his last week with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. It was a couple of miles from Jerusalem and He would go back to their house every evening.
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
— John 12:1-2
• Remember before when Martha served Jesus? She was frazzled and distracted by the big dinner she was preparing and came to Jesus and said, “Lord, this is unfair that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
• When someone doesn’t know how to rest in the Lord, it irritates them to see someone who does.
• Jesus said, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!
• Now, all this time later, Martha is still serving and Mary is still worshiping but the difference is now, Martha is worshiping too. She listened to Jesus and learned how to tap into grace. She learned how to use her gift to worship Jesus. When you try to serve without the grace of God, you’ll wear yourself out being busy and produce little or no fruit.
• The difference between between busy and fruitful is grace.
Day 1- Jesus’ Triumphal Entry
As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, He sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ (what do you think you’re doing?) just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” And it happened just like that. They brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting.
— Mark 11:1
• Jesus told them to get a young donkey, that no one had ever ridden. He was showing us that our old way of thinking won’t get us to new places.
• God wants to do something new in our lives, something that we’ve never done before, but we have to be willing to “get off our…. donkey” and see the new idea, the new plan, the new way of life, and take those steps He gives us to take. If anybody asks, “What do you think you’re doing?”, we say, “The Lord needs me to do this.”
This also demonstrates how we should never discount the young people and the children being used by God. If a brand new donkey can help usher in God’s kingdom, so can our kids.
Life Lesson — Day 1
If we want to get something we’ve never had, we have to do something we’ve never done.
Day 2 — It’s marked by 2 events.
• When Jesus and His disciples were headed to the temple, they saw the fig tree that had leaves but wasn’t bearing fruit and Jesus cursed it. That’s a picture of religion; appearances but no proof. Religion says, “As long as I look the part, I’m okay.” But Jesus was saying, “Don’t pretend to be fruitful when you’re really just hanging around trying to look the part.”
• We know the rest of that story, how the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed and wondered how it happened. Jesus’s answer was simple, “Have faith in God.”
• Then He went on to say, “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”
• Jesus uses saying and praying interchangeably here. You can’t pray for something and say something else, like, “Lord, I think you for my healing” and then when someone asks, “How are you?” you say,“Sick as a dog.”
• We need to say what we pray and believe what we say! Grace is God’s divine assistance, but He can’t assist what we say if we’re speaking against the Word. He confirms His Word, not ours. If we want the results the word promises, we need to say what the Word says.
• The other event is when Jesus entered the temple and cleaned house. The money changers and merchants had set up shop selling sacrifices to people before they could go worship.
• John 2:15 says that Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple.
• Jesus didn’t fly off the handle and lose His temper. He had a plan. Grace doesn’t react to situations. Grace has a plan. Grace will help you respond with authority about something without ever losing your temper.
• He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
• Stop trying to buy God’s favor. It’s not about how good a sacrifice you can make. The best sacrifice or the biggest offering doesn’t earn favor or forgiveness with God. He’s not looking for a sacrifice to make up for your sins; He wants us to look at THE sacrifice for our sins.
• The money changers were taking advantage of people’s guilt over sin by selling animals they could sacrifice and actually reminding people of their sins. They were especially taking advantage of the poor who couldn’t pay much. They were also trying to keep it about works and how good you could keep the Law, but Grace walked right in and turned the Law upside down.
• Then Jesus went back to His friend’s house again that night.
Life lesson — Day 2
Grace will cause you to respond, not react, say what you pray, and see what you say.
• Day 3— Jesus and His disciples came back to Jerusalem and spent all day being challenged by the Pharisees. They kept trying to trap Him with His words so they could arrest Him, but they couldn’t do it. They’d say, “Which law is the most important?” and He’d say, “Love fulfills the Law.” Every time they tried to get Him to answer a trick question, He spoke with such wisdom, they got confused.