April 6th – Holy Week Monday

Kevin Siddle

For now, Jesus has the crowds on his side. He just entered the city the night before to everyone’s great delight. They see Jesus as their new King, and this makes the established religious leaders very nervous. Jesus is not the Messiah to them, but a trouble-maker. And Jesus is going to make trouble this day. 
“Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants from their stalls. He told them, ‘The Scriptures declare, ‘My temple will be a place of prayer,’ but you have turned into a den of thieves.” This is the second time that Jesus cleared the temple (John 2:13-17). Jesus was on a mission. He went straight to the Temple to remove those people who were clearly taking advantage of the many pilgrims who were travelling to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. 
Jesus made it painfully clear why they were being driven out. His house was a place of prayer. 
Jesus’ actions continue to put him at odds with the religious leaders. These men would have been a part of the ‘marketplace’ and would have profited from the vendors that Jesus removed. Jesus didn’t care about that, though, Jesus cared about doing what is right. He confronted the wickedness, removed it, and returned a holy place back to its glory. 
Picture is of the Scarsellino painting of Jesus driving the merchants from the temple.
 

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke

April 7th – Holy Week Tuesday

Kevin Siddle

Jesus was a gifted and passionate teacher. And teaching is exactly what he did in his last week on earth. “Every day he was teaching in the temple.” Luke 19:47 On Tuesday of Holy week, we see most of Luke focus on Jesus teachings. The teachers of the law, looking for a way to trap Jesus, question his authority. They want to try and get Jesus into saying something blasphemous or treasonous. After all, the religious leaders themselves are not endorsing Jesus, so who is? 
Ironically, throughout Luke 20, Jesus spins the question back on the leaders and questions their authority. Luke 20:19, “When the teachers of religious law and the leading priests heard this story, they wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was pointing at them…” 
The questioning continues, not for any true desire to learn, but to try and trap Jesus. However, after all the questions have been asked, and after Jesus offers his parables, wisdom, and rebukes, the religious leaders are left speechless. 
Luke 20:39-40 “Well said, Teacher! Remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there. And that ended their questions; no one dared to ask any more.” 
At this point Jesus turns to the offensive. He has an opportunity to call out the evil like he did in clearing the Temple. 
Luke 20:45-47 Then, with the crowds listening, he turned to his disciples and said, ‘Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they love to parade in flowing robes and to have everyone bow to them as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and at banquets. But they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property, and then, to cover up the kind of people they really are, they make long prayers in public. Because of this, their punishment will be the greater. 
The painting pictured is by James Tissot titled The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt Jesus.
 

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke

April 8th – Holy Week Wednesday

Kevin Siddle

There are many debates about what did and did not occur on the Wednesday of Holy Week. Most scholars agree that Holy Wednesday, also called Spy Wednesday was the day that Judas decided to betray Jesus. 
Luke 22:3-4 Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went over to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. 
We don’t know why Judas decided to betray Jesus. Maybe he was disillusioned with the messages he brought. Maybe he was frustrated that Jesus kept speaking about his death and not establishing a new kingdom. Maybe Judas was trying to force Jesus’ hand into utilizing his power. We don’t know many things, but one of the things we do know, is that the leading priests were pleased. (22:5-6)
They had been searching for a way to kill Jesus for quite some time. Jesus had insulted them, questioned their authority, and sought to ruin their livelihood. And then Judas entered. Judas offered the priests an opportunity they could not pass up. Betrayal from one of Jesus’ own disciples. Judas alone could provide them with the information they needed. 
However, Judas wasn’t working alone. No, he had an accomplice. Satan. The betrayal and eventually the crucifixion death of Jesus was not just because of the jealousy of the established religious leaders, nor was it the uncontrolled anger of one of his disciples. This battle occurs in the kingdoms and authorities of the heavenly realms. This is a battle between God and Satan, with Jesus right in the middle. 
Satan assumed that killing Jesus would end Jesus’ mission and thwart the eternal plans of God. Like Judas, Satan did not know that Jesus’ death and resurrection were the most important part of God’s plan all along. 
The painting pictured is by János Pentelei Molnár titled The Thirty Pieces of Silver. 

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke

April 9th – Holy Week Maundy Thursday

Kevin Siddle

Maundy Thursday, originating from the latin word ‘mandatum’ means commandment. The reference comes from Jesus’ commandment in John 13:34-35 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Maundy Thursday is the day that we recognize Jesus shared the Passover meal (Last Supper) with his disciples and when he was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Luke 22:15-16 we see that Jesus had eagerly desired this time with the disciples. Why? 
The Last Supper would be those last moments that Jesus had with his closest disciples before his crucifixion. These moments were critical to making sure the kingdom that he had come to establish would continue. Jesus knew that his time to suffer was coming, and that he would be the living example of the Passover meal. Jesus would become the bread, the wine, and the lamb. 
In this account of the Last Supper, we are reminded of Holy Communion. We are to take the bread, remembering that Christ’s body was broken in sacrifice for us and the forgiveness of our sins. We are to take the wine or juice and be reminded of the new covenant that Jesus established with his blood. As the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus would break his body and spill his blood in order to save us from the penalty of death brought by sin. 
Last Supper, Italian Cenacolo, one of the most famous artworks in the world, painted by Leonardo da Vinci probably between 1495 and 1498 for the Dominican monastery Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.
 

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke

April 10th – Holy Week Good Friday

Kevin Siddle

Early AM: Jesus is taken to Pontius Pilate
9:00am: Jesus is placed on a cross. 
12:00pm: Darkness covers the whole land. 
3:00pm: Jesus died. 
6:00pm: Jesus’ body is laid in a tomb.
Less than 24 hours before his death, Jesus was eating the Passover meal with his disciples. In the course of one day, it seems that Jesus’ ministry had ended. The ministry of love, forgiveness, encouragement, and grace had come to a crashing halt. Any thoughts of a leader bringing Jerusalem back to its former glory are over. 
However, in the darkest moment of humankind, there are signs of hope and love. A criminal asking to be with Jesus in His kingdom. A Roman centurion that recognizes the divinity of Jesus. Jesus’ acquaintances and followers, who watched from a distance. Joseph of Arimathea who risked his own status to bring Jesus’ body to rest. The women who followed Jesus to prepare his body. 
These people could not do great things for Jesus. They had no power to stand against the Jewish Council or the Roman government. They were limited. However, they sought out Jesus when even his disciples abandoned him. 
The painting pictured is by Mihály Munkácsy titled Golgatha. 
 

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke

April 11th – Holy Week Saturday

Kevin Siddle

After Jesus died on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea had very little time and rushed to request permission for Jesus’ body. At sundown of Friday the Sabbath began, and that meant any necessary preparations had to be completed before then. Had they not been able to get permission, or had sunset come, Roman soldiers would have taken Jesus’ body and put it into a common grave. 
Therefore, during the Sabbath day, we see little activity. The disciples are in hiding and the religious leaders are worried. 
Matthew 27:62-66 The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.
Soon, there would be no need for guards. 

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke

April 12th – Holy Week Resurrection Sunday

Kevin Siddle

The Sabbath has ended. The women who followed Jesus are eager to bring the spices they have prepared to show love and respect to him. These women had followed Joseph to the tomb, so they knew where his body had been laid. Very early on Sunday morning, they went to the tomb, and to their shock, the tomb was empty! The initial response of the women was not elation for a risen savior, but instead worry and grief as they thought Jesus’ body had been taken away. 
Luke 24:8-9 “Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” They remembered. The prophecies, the foretelling, the many teachings. Suddenly, everything came together. JESUS HAD RISEN. 
It had all occurred just as Jesus had said it would. He had now been raised on the third day, just as he tried to tell them. The angel tells the women to go tell the eleven disciples (minus Judas) and his followers. This news was too good to be kept to themselves. They had been given a command and they obeyed. 
And when they reach the eleven disciples, they are met with skepticism. “The story sounded like nonsense, so they didn’t believe it.” Luke 24:11 It sounded like nonsense to everyone but Peter and John. They ran  to the tomb. They had to know for themselves what had happened. 
In the remaining chapters of Luke, we see a resurrected Jesus! He teaches, rebukes, encourages, and commands his followers just as he did before his crucifixion. 
As we all celebrate Easter I pray that you would run to Jesus just as John and Peter had. I pray that you would be reminded of the promises that Jesus offers and that he offers life eternal. 
We all have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives. To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and to be sent out as his followers. If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can do so by saying this prayer. 
Jesus, thank you that you love me. And, I love you too. Jesus, forgive me for my sins. And help me forgive myself. Jesus, come into my life. Make me fresh and new. Make me into everything you have created me to be. In the strong name of Jesus. Amen. 
The painting pictured is titled Ascension by John Singleton Copley. 
 

*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke

Leader Questions for Week 6

Questions for Holy Week

Feel free to add your own questions to your Connect Group conversations! 

Palm Sunday:
Can you imagine the scene of Jesus entering into Jerusalem? What do you think would be the most exciting? 
What do you think the religious leaders were thinking? What about the Romans? 
Knowing what we do now, how would you react if you were in the crowd? 
Holy Monday:
Who is Jesus standing up for when he cleared the temple? 
When you think about church today, do you consider it a house of prayer, worship, study, or something else?
Jesus is ‘damaging livelihoods’ when he cleared the temple. Do you know of a time when believing in Jesus put someone at odds with a profession? 
Has there been a time where you went against the establishment for Jesus? 
Holy Tuesday:
Why do you think Jesus spent his last days teaching? 
If you knew you had one week to live, how would you act it out? Who would you spend time with? 
Has there been a time where you had to rebuke someone because of their sin? Did you do it openly, as Jesus did with the religious leaders?  
Holy Wednesday:
Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus? 
What do you think about Satan ‘entering’ Judas? 
What do you think was the response of the religious leaders when Judas walked in?
Maundy Thursday:
What do think the feeling of the room was like during the Last Supper? Just a few days after the Triumphal Entry, Jesus pushing against the establishment, and yet Jesus also predicting his death. 
Why did Jesus eagerly desire the time with the disciples knowing what was coming soon?
When you take Holy Communion today, what do you think about? What does Holy Communion mean to you?  
Good Friday:
If you were one of Jesus’ disciples, how would you feel watching him be taken away by the guards? 
Would you have stayed in the back at the crucifixion (many of Jesus’ female followers) or would you have left (like the disciples)?
Do you think the disciples left out of fear, shame or guilt? Or because they couldn’t bear to see Jesus on the cross?
How would you react to the dead raising?
Holy Saturday:
What do you think the disciples were doing the day after Jesus died on the cross? 
What would you do? Would you try and move forward, or take time to grieve? 
Resurrection Sunday:
Would you have gone to the tomb at the first opportunity? 
If someone came to you saying that someone you had loved, dearly, had risen from the dead, what would be your reaction? Why?
You have an opportunity to see and talk with a resurrected Jesus, what would you ask him?