Lent Day 3: Jesus Facepalm

I am convinced that Jesus’ disciples – the 12 men who were His closest friends and followers – spent the majority of their time being perplexed by Him.

The next day the large crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. So they took branches from palm trees and went out to meet him. They shouted, “Hosanna! ” “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25,26) “Blessed is the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it. This is just as it is written in Scripture. It says,

“City of Zion, do not be afraid.

See, your king is coming.

He is sitting on a donkey’s colt.” (Zechariah 9:9)

At first, Jesus’ disciples did not understand all this. They realized it only after he had received glory. Then they realized that these things had been written about him. They realized that the people had done these things to him.

A crowd had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead. So they continued to tell everyone about what had happened. Many people went out to meet him. They had heard that he had done this miraculous sign.

So the Pharisees said to one another, “This isn’t getting us anywhere. Look how the whole world is following him!” – John 12:12-19

I am convinced that Jesus’ disciples – the 12 men who were His closest friends and followers – spent the majority of their time being perplexed by Him. (In fact, as we saw from yesterday’s passage, it was those outside His “inner circle”  who seemed to have the clearest picture of who He was. Mary worshipped at His feet while they bickered on…) John again writes today’s passage, and he doesn’t seem to shy away from this fact…

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem toward His death, the people worshipped Him. And John admits that he and his friends did not quite understand what was happening. It was only after Jesus died and came back to life that the guys did a giant facepalm.

“Ohhhh! All that stuff that happened to Jesus was predicted in the Old Testament!” [Of course, they didn’t call it the Old Testament. There was no “Bible” then, just the Jewish writings that were later put into the Bible.] “We should have known!”

Can you follow Jesus without fully understanding everything about him? Ask John, who admitted in writing to it. Ask Peter, who denied Him. Ask all the disciples, who huddled in a secret hideout like cowards after Jesus died. I think they’d say yes.

Lent Day 2: Did It Fall From The Sky?

It was six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the one Jesus had raised from the dead. A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among those at the table with Jesus.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.

But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.”

He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there, so they came. But they did not come only because of Jesus. They also came to see Lazarus. After all, Jesus had raised him from the dead.

So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus too. Because of Lazarus, many of the Jews were starting to follow Jesus. They were putting their faith in him. – John 12:1-11

I personally think we do the Bible a great disservice when we act like it just fell out of the sky one day (bounded in beautiful leather, no doubt) with a note that said, “- From God”.

The Bible didn’t create Christianity. Jesus created Christianity. (It’s not called “Bibleianity”, after all). The people who witnessed the events of Jesus’ life cared enough to document it. They were real people with real emotions. And they had no New Testament to explain to them what was happening.

Take John, who wrote the above passage. He was a close friend and follower of Jesus. He remembered the scent of Mary’s perfume as she poured it on Jesus’ feet. He saw his fellow disciple, Judas, completely freak out over the perfume being “wasted”. He even knew Judas was a thief – he must’ve caught him more than once with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar!

He also saw Jesus raise a dead man back to life. And other people did too. And John began to see a sharp division happening. Many started to follow Jesus. But John also heard the angry murmurs of the religious elite. They were so angry they even wanted to kill a man who was already dead once! John had no idea that things were about to get even crazier!

Lent Day 1: What If I Don’t Believe?

As they all approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage. It was on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two disciples. He said to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you get there, you will find a donkey tied up. Her colt will be with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them. The owner will send them right away.” This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet would come true. It says, “Say to the city of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you. He is gentle and riding on a donkey. He is riding on a donkey’s colt.’ ” (Zechariah 9:9) The disciples went and did what Jesus told them to do. They brought the donkey and the colt. They placed their coats on them. Then Jesus sat on the coats. A very large crowd spread their coats on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Some of the people went ahead of him, and some followed. They all shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:26) “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. The people asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus. He is the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” – Matthew 21:1-11

I love talking to people who don’t share the same beliefs as I do. It’s so interesting to learn why people believe what they believe. It challenges my own beliefs and forces me to see things from a different point of view. That’s a good thing.

When you hear the word “Lent” (not to be confused with “lint”), I’m not sure what images come to mind. For the longest time, I always associated Lent with having to “give something up”. And yes, observing a fast is part of many Lenten traditions. Lent, in its simplest terms, is a period of time we use to prepare for Easter – the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. But I had this thought… What if you don’t believe that Jesus really ressurected? What if you’re not sure what you think of Jesus? Can you still “play along” this Lent?

Yes! I want to use this Lenten season to get to know Jesus better. You can too, and you don’t have to go in with any endgame in mind. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey the week he was to be crucified, some people worshiped Him. But others did not. Some people simply asked, “Who is this?” If that’s all you can say about Jesus right now, that’s okay. I’d encourage us all to keep asking questions.