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Tag Archives: Passion Week

When the Timing is Right

If you watched the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, you were not disappointed unless your team lost.  Nonetheless, winning this title in baseball is the pinnacle for major league ball players.  However, for one member of the winning Houston Astros, this wasn’t enough.  Similar to the final scene of the 1999 film For the Love of the Game, sometimes relationships are more important.  Thus, getting down on a knee, Carlos Correa proposed to his girl friend during the postgame festivities.  In his mind, the timing was right.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” – Matthew 16:15

During the first century, Jesus arrived in Caesarea Philippi with his disciples.  Led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus felt it was time to have a serious conversation with his ministry team.  After discussing what others believed about him, Jesus wanted to know, “what about you?”  This question set the stage for Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth before his crucifixion.  Following Peter’s confession that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for the events of the future.  This information didn’t sit too well with Peter, who was unable to grasp the fact that Jesus was a heavenly king, not the earthly king of the Jews.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life, Matthew 16:21.

In life, the future is like a blank tapestry waiting to be painted.  Yet, some times you don’t have the materials necessary to start.  On other occasions, you have the tools, but you lack the vision necessary to complete this portrait.  As for me, I was attending a retreat in southern Indiana.  I had recently resigned from my youth ministry position and was unsure of what to do next.  Following a moving presentation, God impressed upon the need to ask my girl friend Leanne to marry me.  The next day, I drove to Chicago, took a twist tie that she gave me as part of a care package and proposed.  When the timing is right, step out in faith while you have the opportunity to act.  By doing this, you fulfill the words of Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

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The Philosophy of Jesus

As his reputation as a healer and teacher grew, first century philosophers began to ponder the secret behind Jesus’ success.  Some Greeks approached Philip, one of Jesus’ disciple, hoping to arrange a meeting.  After conferring with Jesus, he agreed to sit down over dinner to share his beliefs.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit, John 12:24.

This meal takes place of the eve of Passion Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Jesus’ crucifixion.  Subsequently, in the previous verse John 12:23, Jesus points to a time when he will lay die his life.  This serves as an introduction to the philosophy of Jesus, you have to die to self before you can trily live.

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life, John 12:25.

I wish I could have seen the looks on the faces of these philosophers.  I’m sure there was some head scratching and strange looks.  Yet, Jesus’ philosophy comes down to two elements: life and death.  Those who want to stay in control never find the abundant life promised in  John 10:10.  Meanwhile, those who are willing give up their life on earth to serve God receive eternal blessings.  This choice is not forced or manipulated.  Rather, its up to you.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Love and Marriage

The sitcom Married with Children mocked the biblical concept of love and marriage.  However, as Christian couples in America began to live hypocritical lives, often resulting in divorce, I guess you can say Hollywood had plenty of material to work with.  Nonetheless, for ten seasons Al Bundy portrayed a new form of love and marriage, laughing at the struggles an average family endures on a weekly basis.

“Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother, Mark 12:19.

During another week in history, “Let’s See if We can Fool Jesus This Time,” also known as Passion Week, the Sadduceees refer to still other aspect of love and marriage.  Referencing Jewish Law found in the Torah, a religious leader tries to play Trivia Pursuit with Jesus.  Before the answer to his question is provided, it is clear he was no match for the King of Kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven, Mark 12:24-25.

Love prior to entering any relationship is tough enough on its own.  However, when you add marriage to this equation, the complication is magnified.  The apostle Paul chose to remain single, not wanting this distraction in his life.  Yet for those who are stuck as Al Bundy often eluded to his own marriage, a different form of love is required, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Therefore, pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23 so that the love you display may have an eternal impact.

by Jay Mankus

Last Rites

No one except God knows what will be your last day, meal or words.  In the case of Jesus, I guess you can say He was born to die, causing a wide range of emotions.  As the Passion Week approached, interactions with family, friends and disciples would be his last, causing the praises of Hosanna on Palm Sunday to be replaced with “Crucify Him.”

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10

Today, when doctor’s sense the end is near, Catholics call a priest to perform last rites.  Otherwise known as the sacraments of anointing the sick, if death is expected, Penance and Communion is also offered to prepare one’s soul for the afterlife.  Once complete, family members gather around to savor the remaining moments of life together.  The closest thing that I’ve ever experienced was the day my grandfather died, holding his hand one last time before his last breath.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” John 11:25.

While hanging from a cross on Good Friday, there were only two more things left on God’s agenda.  First, Jesus gave hope to one of two criminals hanging from an adjacent cross, offering Him the promise of paradise for his repentant words.  Second, as the oldest son, Jesus wanted to make sure Mary was in good hands, commanding John of Zebedee to watch after his mother.  Though no last rites where necessary for Jesus, a perfect man, Hebrews 4:14-16, Jesus gave up His spirit with one final comment, “it is finished!”

by Jay Mankus

What Tables Would Jesus Turn Over Today?

The final 7 days of Jesus’ earthly life is often referred to as Passion Week.  Beginning on Monday, Jesus experienced several different emotions.  While approaching Jerusalem, Jewish broken down in tears, having compassion on lost people, unable to discern what was about to happen.  A few hours later, Jesus is enraged by a temple corrupted by the world, becoming more like a flea market than a house of worship.  The Bible claims Jesus turned over tables, trying to eliminate impure motives from this holy place.

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”                  Luke 19:45-46

According to the Bible, God sees all things.  If today was the beginning of his final week on earth, I wonder if Jesus would respond in a similar manner.  How much compassion would be displayed?  What anger would be demonstrated and where else beside the temple would Jesus target?  Although its just a hunch, I believe Jesus would go into the house of saints, throwing idols off their shelves, trying to purge believers from their worldly ways.  After this visit, Christians must decide for themselves, relying on freewill to determine, “who will I follow?”

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:13

One of the greatest misconceptions about Christianity is that God forces individuals to do this or do that.  Essentially, the Lord gives freedom, like Adam and Eve in the Garden with just one rule to follow.  Although the fall of mankind has complicated life, each day involves choices, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.  According to Moses, good choices lead to life and bad ones to death.  Therefore, if you want to honor God and avoid from having the tables turned over in your own temple, the body, choose the narrow path today, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus