Mourning into Joy | Spy Wednesday: The Temptation of Worldly Logic | Holy Week | Devotional Series | Part 5 of 10

Two events mark this day. One, Mary breaks an expensive alabaster jar at Jesus’ feet. And two, Judas conspires to betray Jesus. The later one is apparently where the term spy Wednesday finds its name. But that’s not our concern here. What’s interesting is that, both these events underline one problem – superimposing our logic on God.

There are certainly, many instances in our lives when we think a church could better use her resources. Say, why waste money on rituals when we can use it to do far more charitable work?! Judas, apparently thought the same. In fact, if we refer the biblical past, all men whom God has treated unfavorably has always thought logically. Cain, I believe, was a man of science. He grew great vegetation with great precision. Saul was logical. He thought logistically and strategically, that it was better he offered the sacrifices himself, to keep the morale of his army intact. All these men had their reasons, and in accordance to our earthly understandings, they were all logical. Judas’ objection over Mary wasting an alabaster jar was also (actually) logically sound. Instead of wasting it on Jesus’ feet, which were bound to get dirty again – he opined, it could feed a starving family. But this worldly mindedness is exactly what Christ objected; that is not what God wants.

Because, we were/are called to live our lives depending on God’s grace and not on worldly wisdom. (1 Cor 1:12) Because worldliness harbors passions that is ungodly, it is selfish, troublesome, and filled with animosity. And most importantly, it leads to sin and death. (James 4:1-12) Hence, in the light of the scripture, Judas’ objection was ultimately wrong. Later we find that his concerns were never even for the poor. He had always had a conceited heart when it comes to money. And being tempted by of his own desires, his life ended tragically. The same, unfortunately, is true for you and me. The Apostle James wrote:

“But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires, he is lured away and enticed.” (James 1:14, BSB)

Dear readers, it is important as Christians to understand that the heart is deceitful above all things. (Jer 17:9) And worldly-mindedness equates death. (Rom 8:6) We are never in the position of making a sound judgement on our own – over what is, and what life could be. But God is our creator and He knows best. And it is His desire that we live according to His will – according to the ways of His Kingdom. It is in His will that we desire heaven over earth; like Mary’s mind was set on Christ, while Judas on worldly matters. Let us therefore, continue to persevere in His grace, trusting and obeying Him for our good. For as the Apostle Paul wrote, God’s grace is enough to train us into renouncing worldliness and into embracing holiness. (Titus 2:11-12) To God be the Glory.  


Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy (3) Holy Monday: Tough Love (4) Holy Tuesday: Who do we say this Jesus is

Mourning into Joy | Holy Tuesday: Who do we say this Jesus is | Holy Week | Devotional Series | Part 4 of 10

As the days settled in Jerusalem, Jesus won’t stop talking about morbid days ahead. What erratic lunacy it must have been, for the disciples to witness their messiah brooding over his death. These few days was hard for Christ, but it must have been utterly confusing for the disciples. Here is the messiah, who they believed would grant them great health, wealth and happiness – one who was going to overthrow the Roman rule. And yet they kept hearing Him say, He was going to be killed by His own people?! When Peter rebuked Christ, he confirmed these sentiments. But Christ had a different objective. Jesus did not come to satisfy our shortsighted, glory-hungry whims and fancies. He came to grant us salvation. But Jesus knew, the kind of God they imagined Him to be – one that takes their side, grants them comfort, and overthrows their enemies. And therefore, He asked: Who do we say this Jesus is?

There are three important points to be noted here. First, joy could only come through mourning this sinful life. Because eternal life could only come through the Cross. Second, we are not to seek comfort in this world – which the scriptures rightfully deemed, the Kingdom of the Evil one. (1 Jn 5:19) And lastly, we are to forgive one another. (Mark 11:25) Marshal Segal writes,

“Our salvation was purchased with suffering, and it will be sealed and preserved with suffering (James 1:2–4), not comfort… If we come to the crucified one expecting him to make life easier and more comfortable, we’re not listening to him. Jesus says, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34).” (Pg. 38-39)

The mark of a true disciple is suffering. A world that rejects Christ, cannot accept His followers. (John 15:19) But our confidence lies in that fact that God forgave us and called us His own. Therefore, as forgiven people, we ought to forgive.

For Jesus, it was important that the disciples know that a life of suffering awaited them, and they were not to hold any grudges nor hatred against anyone. Because the failure to do so posed a greater problem. But ultimately, none of this could come through until and unless they could do away with their false imagination of who Christ was. Because for Jesus, His desire for His followers were not for them to become rich, comfortable, and enjoy great authority in the world. Christ desired His people to be driven by a self-sacrificial love. Because love alone was/is the category of His Kingdom – not riches, not conquest, not political power – none of that which resembles this fallen world. Therefore, for Jesus this question was really important. It was important that they know Him for who He really is – before He could lay down His life. So that they could follow Him to the kingdom of eternal life, He was preparing for them.

Dear readers, I wonder if Christ was to ask us – who do we say this Jesus is? Would we have the correct answer? Or will He find us riddled by the god of our own imagination? Will He find us desiring a god that grants us great health, and takes our side against people who treat us unfavorably?! There is only one thing I can say: life is full of suffering as it is, why not suffer for good. To God be the Glory.


Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy (3) Holy Monday: Tough Love

Mourning into Joy | Holy Monday: Tough Love | Holy Week | Devotional Series | Part 3 of 10

Love is not always meek. My mother loves me a lot. I know this, not only because she is good to me. But because she scolds me, and corrects me when I need correcting. Christ demonstrated this bolder side of love, post His meek entrance into Jerusalem. He cursed a healthy-looking fig tree. And raged through the various vendors at the temple. Because the Israelites had lost the plot. They were more concern with being religious superficially, than knowing God authentically. Obedience is better than sacrifice. (1 Sam 15:22) If the Israelites really cared, they would have known what their patriarch David himself wrote: “you do not desire a sacrifice (oh! LORD), or I would offer one”. (Ps 51:16) But the whole pretext of littering the temple with various vendors was to facilitate the ease of offering sacrifices; as Israelites came from various different places – travelling long distances. From that perspective, what a reasonably noble thing those vendors were doing. But that’s not what YHWH desires. But beyond that, the superficial religiosity was keeping foreigners away from God. Jonathan Parnell wrote:

The great sadness of this scene wasn’t so much the rows of product and price-gouging, but that all this left no room for the Gentiles and outcasts to come to God.” (Pg. 27)

This scene was sad, because according to Isaiah’s vision foreigners and outcasts were to gather with His people. (Isa 56:4-8) Do you understand now, why Christ did, what He did? He cleansed the temple – because He loved us. He corrected the Israelites because He loved them; and most importantly, He loved us – foreigners and outcast, who without Christ’s intervention would have remained outside of His covenant.

So – dear reader, do you understand, Christ’s bold move wasn’t a reaction against an unexpected sight – seeing corrupt money lenders in the temple. No. He is sovereign, and omniscient. He knew it already.

This was a lesson He wanted His disciples to learn, and for us to know. It is not a bloated religiosity that He wants. A fig tree no matter how healthy, without good fruits, is only destined for condemnation. What Christ wants – what YHWH wants is our hearts. And no one, absolutely no one can bear good fruits, until He is planted in the one who says:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5, ESV)

So dear readers, this is why Christ cleansed the temple. So that we could be gathered into Him; so that we could abide in Him, and bear good fruits. Let us take comfort in knowing that this same Christ, is willing to clean our hearts and make us a temple that glorifies His name. Because nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love, that is manifested through Christ for us. (Rom 8:38-39) To God be the Glory.   


Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy

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