Passion Week – Tuesday
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
On Monday of Jesus’ Passion Week, He entered the Temple in Jerusalem and cleared it of moneychangers. The merchant’s motive was to place a monetary value on worship.
Jesus’ message is that worship is a free expression of the heart.
He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
Mark 11:17 NLT
As Jesus begins the last week of His earthly walk, He descriptively defines His coming Kingdom.
Redemption replaces religiosity . . .
Love instead of legalism . . .
Mercy instead of manipulation.
Grace is given and reconciliation received.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
James 1:12 NLT
When it comes to handling trials and temptations, we usually look for prompt answers instead of patient acceptance.
When there is pain, we run to self-medicate.
When there are problems, we self-solve.
When there are pressures, we self-sooth.
If it gets too much to handle, we let go . . . abandoned to passivity instead of accepting responsibility.
James tells us there is “blessing” from God when we are resilient and refuse give up, give in or get out.
He reminds us, “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)
Patient Endurance. Our first reaction to patiently enduring is too often, “Oh no . . . not again”, while God wants us to respond, “Ok . . . what can I gain”. Every challenge is a chance to grow. Patient endurance leads to persistent encouragement. Paul encourages the Christ-followers in Corinth, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Cor 10:13 NLT). We are not alone. We are able to handle it. A solution is available.
Promised Crown. The word used for “crown” is “stephanos“, which can also refer to a “reward” or “laurel wreath.” In the original Greek Olympics, the winner of a sporting contest was honored with a laurel crown. Just as a runner perseveres through the difficulties of the race so that he might reach the finish line and receive the reward, Jesus is waiting to place a crown of life upon our head when we reach the finish line after persevering through pain, problems and persecution. Jesus’ promise and presence provides us peace in our problems. He comforts us, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
Focusing on Christ Jesus gives us a freedom in our challenges. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Heb12:2 NLT)
Be patient and keep your eyes on the prize.
Hang in there because He is there.
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The physician Luke records a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day over those who were spiritually lost. The Pharisees focused on the found . . . Jesus looked for the lost.
The Savior told stories of a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son. The lost sheep was sought after by the shepherd . . . the lost coin was found in a routine cleaning . . . and the lost son was waited for.
In each parable, there was celebration when the lost was found.