Holy Week & Meditations on Radical Grace


Last year, on Palm Sunday, I got the privilege to deliver a little message to a group of men at the prison ministry my church does each month. I ended up building off of that message and its outline and writing a series of blog posts meditating on Holy Week and the radical, scandalous grace inherent in the story and actions of Jesus over those days. For your mediation this year over Holy Week, I wanted to post these links for your perusal and, hopefully, your blessing.

The Scandal of Holy Week

{i} the forsaking of God | In this post, we meditate on the fact that Holy Week was the week-long process by which everything–from humanity to creation to God Himself— forsakes Jesus. We see that true disciples are not those that never forsake Jesus. In fact, we will all forsake Jesus in radical ways at some point.
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The Scandal of Holy Week {v}: conclusion & benediction


As I said in Part 1, this series was originally given as a sermon to a group of prisoners attending my church’s prison ministry. This is the conclusion and benediction I gave them at the end. This post picks up right after the end of Part 4, where we listed out practical ways that Jesus prepares his disciples for them forsaking him and the ways he reveals himself to already-wayward disciples, thereby calling them back to Him. I encourage you to read the other parts of this message: Part 1: the forsaking of GodPart 2: the Grace of JesusPart 3: the limits of Grace?Part 4: the restoration of disciplesPart 5: conclusion & benediction]

Conclusion

These are not guarantees: all these different practical things I’ve mentioned are not the “magic formula” for how to restore your faith if you feel you’ve lost or forsaken it. Sometimes none of these things are necessary; the Centurion did not seem to have any of these things. Sometimes, you’ll do all of these things for years–decades, even–and nothing will change.

All I can tell you is that He is worth it. The God of Holy Week is a God worthy to be wrestled against for years and years and years and years until he finally meets you, even if it is for the briefest of moments before slipping away back into frustration, doubt and sin.
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The Scandal of Holy Week {iv}: the restoration of disciples


[Update: this series has been completed. Part 1: the forsaking of GodPart 2: the Grace of JesusPart 3: the limits of Grace?Part 4: the restoration of disciplesPart 5: conclusion & benediction]

In Part 1 of this series, we saw that we will all forsake Jesus many times in our lives, just as the disciples did on the Thursday night of Holy Week. In Part 2, we saw that in light of this abandonment, Jesus responds to those that forsake him by being unconditionally and unlimitedly gracious towards them in their forsaking of him. In Part 3, we looked at just how scandalous and beautiful this grace is and how and why we often try and limit it. Today, we give practical ways that we can prepare ourselves to come back to our Lord, even after we have forsaken him in our own “Thursday” seasons.

As we saw in Part 1, Holy Week was a week-long process in which everything–creation, creatures, and God Himself–all forsook Jesus, turning their back on him. We’ve said several times now that true disciples of Jesus are not those that never forsake Jesus, but they are those that after forsaking him, turn back. And so, to help us see how we do this, let’s look at the first person in this story to turn back.

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The Scandal of Holy Week {iii}: the limits of Grace?


[Update: this series has been completed. Part 1: the forsaking of GodPart 2: the Grace of JesusPart 3: the limits of Grace?Part 4: the restoration of disciplesPart 5: conclusion & benediction]

In part 1 of this series, we looked at the original Holy Week and saw how everything and everyone has and will forsake Jesus. We said that “Thursday”–the day when the disciples forsook Jesus–will come for every disciple. In part 2, we saw that Jesus, as he relates to those that have forsaken him and those that will do so, responds and relates to them on the basis of pure, unfettered grace. Today we look at why this matters and what it looks like in our lives.

We’ve seen that every disciple will forsake Jesus, but the true disciples of God are the ones that come back after they have left him. And further, it is my contention that what brings people back is not fear, not Law, but the unbounded and free Grace of Jesus.

But let’s be honest–this process can be a long one. It can be months, years, or even decades before these true disciples of God return to Him. People can go very far down the path of sin’s temptations, and still be Christians. In fact, any of us can go very far down the path of sin’s temptations and still absolutely be beloved, regenerated, Christian children of God.
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The Scandal of Holy Week {ii}: the Grace of Jesus


[Update: this series has been completed. Part 1: the forsaking of GodPart 2: the Grace of JesusPart 3: the limits of Grace?Part 4: the restoration of disciplesPart 5: conclusion & benediction]

Last week, we saw how Holy Week, kicked off by Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, was merely the beginning of a series of events that led to everything around Jesus forsaking him. We went on to ask how disciples of Christ might avoid their own version of “Thursday”–the night the disciples betrayed and forsook Jesus. The reality is, though, that every disciple of Christ has, does, and will forsake Jesus many times over. And so, the proper question to bring to Holy Week is not “how might I keep myself from forsaking Jesus”, but rather “how does Jesus respond to those–including myself–that will end up forsaking him?” I went on to say

“The answer I want to fight for? Jesus responds to all of our forsaking him with pure, unadulterated, offensive, and scandalous Grace. My main point in this message is this: A disciple is not someone who never forsakes Jesus; it’s someone who, after forsaking him, comes back.

Today we will look back at Holy Week to see the ways that Jesus demonstrates this scandalous Grace to those that have and will turn their backs and abandon him.
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The Scandal of Holy Week {i}: the forsaking of God


[Update: this series has been completed. Part 1: the forsaking of GodPart 2: the Grace of JesusPart 3: the limits of Grace?Part 4: the restoration of disciplesPart 5: conclusion & benediction]

This Palm Sunday I had the honor to preach at the prison ministry that my church does. It was amazing. I love those guys so much. My message was scrawled in my journal in outline form, so this will be only a rough and condensed manuscript of what was said. I hope you find it beneficial as you navigate these murky waters of life and spirituality.

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples… When they brought the donkey to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” —Mark 11:1,7-9

This event is traditionally called the “Triumphal Entry”. It is when Jesus enters into the city of his people in such a way that confirms the suspicions of those around him: he is Messiah; he is King; he is Lord. But we also see that this Palm Sunday begins a week-long process of everything around Jesus forsaking and turning their backs on him, making this a very strange “triumphal” entry.

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