PREPARING FOR THE CROSS, 12.04.19
PREPARING FOR THE CROSS, 12.04.19
Approaching the subject of His pending death and resurrection, He “began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and ruling kohanim and Torah scholars, and be killed, and be raised on the third day”(Matt.16:21). It was time for His disciples to be informed, as He would soon be nailed to a tree, and His disciples would indeed be bewildered. But “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Never, Master! This must never happen to You!”(Matt.16:22), totally misunderstanding what His Rabboni was trying to tell him. It must have been very frustrating for Yeshua/Jesus, after all the time He’d spent with them, after they had acknowledged that they knew He was the Messiah, yet they could not grasp what it was He came to do. It must have been from such frustration that Yeshua /Jesus “turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but the things of men”” (Matt.16:23).
He had made several attempts to lay the groundwork for His departure, testing the waters with His disciples when He asked questions, like: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Lk.9:18), and then, “But who do you that say I am?”(Lk.9:20), and although “Peter answered and said, “The Messiah of God,”” there was no connection made from that to what He told them next – i.e., that “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and ruling kohanim (priests) and Torah scholars, and be killed, and on the third day be raised”(Lk.9:22). He attempted to prepare them for what was necessary for them to continue His work after He left by explaining “If anyone wants to follow Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross every day, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it”(Lk.9:23,24). He wanted very much to communicate to them the complete surrender they would be called to in order to carry on the work of the Kingdom, to spread the Good News, to devote their lives to His cause. They would need to sacrifice all.
“Then Yeshua took the twelve aside and said to them, “Look, we’re going up to Jerusalem, and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be carried out. He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have scourged Him, they will kill Him. Yet on the third day, He will rise again” (Lk.18:31-33). He outlined the entire process, “But they understood none of these things; this message was hidden from them, and they did not understand what He was saying”(Lk.18:34). Imagine what this must have been like for Him. He was not only preparing for the annual celebration of Passover, but was preparing also to become that ultimate fulfillment of prophecy, knowing the type of death that awaited Him, that He had come to die, to lay down His life, and be that perfect Passover Lamb.
“You know that Passover comes in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be executed” (Matt.26:2), He reminded His disciples once again. “Now as they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Yeshua sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village before you. Right away, you’ll find a donkey tied up and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Master needs them.’ And right away he will send them” (Matt. 21:1-5). In preparation for the masses to acknowledge the arrival of Messiah, “This happened to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘See, your King is coming to you, humble and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Matt.21:4,5). It was now time for the message to be aired.
“The disciples went and did as Yeshua had directed them. They brought the donkey and colt and put their clothing on them, and He sat on the clothing. Most of the crowd spread their clothing on the road, and others began cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. The crowds going before Him and those following kept shouting, saying, “Hoshia-na to Ben-David! Baruch ha-ba b’shem Adonai! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hoshia-na in the highest!”
When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Yeshua, from Natzeret in the Galilee” (Matt.21:6-11). All this, yet when it all went down, no one recalled the things He’d said; no one connected the dots.
“Now it was just before the feast of Passover. Yeshua knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. While the seder meal was happening . . . . Yeshua knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13:1-3). Mentally, emotionally, He was attending to all the details before His death, including the modelling of sacrificial love: “So He gets up from the meal and lays aside His outer garment; and taking a towel, He wrapped it around His waist. Then He pours water into a basin. He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel wrapped around Him” (John 13:4,5); then He said: “So if I, your Master and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example—you should do for each other what I have done for you” (John 13:14,15). Faithful to the end, when He could have been mulling over the impending pain and suffering, He was fulfilling the remaining duty of training up His disciples, modelling servanthood, leaving for all of us a model to follow.
Are we, as Messiah’s disciples, preparing for the return of our Passover Lamb? Are we fulfilling our commission, and sharing with those around us what Passover is all about, preparing others for the time of His return? Are we, like Yeshua, behaving as servants, or expecting to be served? Are we prepared to be that sacrifice He has called us to, to “take up our Cross & deny self,” rather than being self-absorbed, in pursuit of worldly pleasures? Are we preparing to meet our Bridegroom, or are we, like the foolish virgins without oil in their lamps (Matt.25), unprepared; and, just as the disciples then, in total denial of the inevitable events prophesied? Are we any more ready now, than His disciples were then, for what He has told us is to come?
© 2016, revised 2017, 2018, 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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