Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Stone Rejected

Stones from the Temple that were cast down by the Romans

Stones play a prominent role in the Holy Week story.

On Palm Sunday Jesus stated that if the crowd was quieted the stone would shout out (Luke 19:40).

Later when some of Jesus’ followers were admiring the Temple adorned with beautiful stones, Jesus responded, “As for these things you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down” (Luke 21:5-6).   Less than forty years after Jesus’ death, the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.

On Easter Sunday the stone covering Jesus’ tomb was rolled away to show how empty it was (Luke 24:2).

All this gives special meaning to Jesus’ comment to the scribes and chief priests during Holy Week.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Luke 20:17)

Jesus was rejected by humanity on the cross, but becomes our assurance of God’s love and grace.  While our trust shifts like sand, his love for us remains rock-steady.

In what ways have you rejected Jesus this week?
In what ways has Jesus become your cornerstone?

Lord Jesus, be my rock and fortress this day and always.

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Redemption Draws Near

The Kidron Valley outside of Jerusalem.

Adam Hamilton, a well-known Methodist pastor, took this picture and writes concerning it.

To the right you can see the temple mount and beyond it the old city of Jerusalem. To the left, out of frame, is the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. In the foreground is a Christian burial ground. On the Mount of Olives is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. To the right, just beneath the walls of the temple mount, is a Muslim cemetery. It was thought, based upon several scriptures, that when the Messiah came for the Last Judgment he would come here, hence the cemeteries. Jesus passed across this valley twice each day during Holy Week.

On Tuesday of Holy Week Jesus taught in the Temple and told the crowds that his ministry was not some isolated historical event, but rather part of God’s great cosmic plan to redeem the world.

Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25-28).

As you walk with Jesus this week, remember you are a participant in God’s great plan. God is redeeming the entire world, including you. Your redemption is drawing near.

What part is God calling you to play in this cosmic event?

Lord Jesus, grant me courage and strength to trust in your plan of redemption

Palm Sunday

The Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem

As Jesus 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.” As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:37-41)

Are you a follower who shouts Hosanna or a stone-cold skeptic that keeps your mouth shut? Or a stone that longs to sing?

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see you as your truly are, the Prince of Peace.

The Journey

Next week is central to my identity. My life changes as I enter it. It is the annual pilgrimage of Christians worldwide.

Holy week is more than a seminar on how to improve my life skills.

A popular way to read scripture, preach sermons or write devotionals is to seek life application. The goal is to find specific practices or concepts on how to improve my life. For example, how I might be a better parent or a better spouse, how I can worry less or trust God more. There is a place for life application, but I don’t see the final days of Jesus’ life as serving that primary function.

I want to use a metaphor to explain this. Our lives can be compared to a home where we live. We have our spaces, our furniture, and our routines that shape daily lives. “Life applications” help us do minor rearrangements and some remodeling to our home, but we still manage how the day-to-day routine flows in our home.

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But Holy Week actually forces me out of my home. I am on a pilgrimage to ancient Jerusalem in my imagination. I am part of the crowd that shouts “hosanna” as Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey. I join with the disciples in eating with Jesus the upper room. With the crowd outside of Pilate’s court, I shout,  “Crucify him.” Finally I hurry to the tomb with the women, full of wonder.

I gather with the people of Resurrection Lutheran to worship, pray, sing and sit in silence. I will seek no specific application or wisdom other than to be with Jesus.

Through this journey my daily story is rewritten, reworked. Like the hobbit Frodo Baggins, I am on a journey far from my comfortable Shire. And when I return to my home, I have been changed by the journey.

Are you ready to enter the story of Christ’s passion this year?

Lord Jesus, let me truly walk with you this week.