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“A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day.”
~ Duncan Campbell
“A revival almost always begins among the laity. The ecclesiastical leaders seldom welcome reformation. History repeats itself. The present leaders are too comfortably situated as a rule to desire innovation that might require sacrifice on their part. And God’s fire only falls on sacrifice. An empty altar receives no fire!”
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday! We get to celebrate the greatest event in history: the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead!
Worship begins at 10:15 am. There will be special music and a children’s sermon (no Children’s Church). I will preach about the resurrection and how it can make a difference in our lives based on Matthew 28:1-10.
He is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
I belong to a liturgical church. We divide each year into liturgical seasons. This week we spend three days in transition from the season of Lent into the season of Easter.
Today, the first of those three days, is called Maundy Thursday. Even people who know it is called Maundy Thursday do not necessarily know what that means. The word “Maundy” comes from the same roots as the words “mandatory” or “mandate.” Today is Maundy Thursday because we celebrate one of the great mandates of our tradition.
Our understanding of Maundy Thursday comes from the meal many people know as the Last Supper. It grows from the roots of Christianity planted in the Jewish community.
Before observing their Seder meal, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. This was a demonstration of servant leadership. Everyone was worthy to be served. No one was left out. This act of servant leadership, an expression of love, gives us an example to follow. We remember, and we practice following that example.
We are real people. We do not always behave as well as we like, and sometimes we outright fail. Today we remember, we reflect, and we begin again. Even if we have failed every day all year, or longer, we start again today.
March 22, 2016
We’re straining to make “Holy Tuesday” special, aren’t we? On Palm Sunday we hail our King, on Maundy Thursday we relish in the obedience of Jesus, on Friday we commemorate his death, and on Sunday we celebrate new life and victory and the death of death.
But Tuesday? If we sit in this Tuesday for a moment, long enough for our ears to stop ringing from the celebration of Palm Sunday, Tuesday may grab us by the collar and give us something unexpected — something only Holy Tuesday can give.
Jesus is teaching theology in Jerusalem each day this week, and Tuesday is “Eschatology Day.” The temple will be destroyed (Luke 21:5–9), there will be many terrible apocalyptic events (Luke 21:10–24), Jerusalem will fall, the people will suffer twisted violence, families will be ripped apart. “There will be . . . people fainting with fear” (Luke 21:25–26).
Jesus breaks the fourth wall, reaches out of the pages of Scripture, grabs our jaw, and forces us to look at him: “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life” (Luke 21:34).
Tuesday’s Odd Gift
And then. Tuesday gives us its peculiar gift,
Every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him. (Luke 21:37–38)
Jesus and the disciples were walking straight toward the jagged cleft of tragedy. They were running into trauma, into chaos, into sadness, into the hungry jaws of their cruel weekend. Certainly Jesus would be consumed with the busyness of his final week of life. But oddly, he chooses to commute to a place that is later said by Luke to be “a Sabbath day’s journey away” (Acts 1:12). Jesus didn’t get an apartment in the city. He didn’t room at the conference center. Even though he taught “early in the morning,” he chose to commute to do his common work from an inconvenient and an uncommon place. Why?
Jesus spent his Tuesday night on Olivet. Actually, Jesus went to Olivet every night. But it is in telling us about his Tuesday that Luke tells us his sleeping arrangements “at night.” Jesus elected this commute — even though it’s long enough, and even though he teaches early, and even though he faces certain death in a matter of days.
That Tuesday gives us three reels of lost footage on the life of Jesus.
Tuesday’s Pictured Hope
Imagine travelling back in time to June 5, 1944 — the day before the Invasion of Normandy Beach — and standing on the beach. Feel the sand in your toes. Look out over the Atlantic Ocean, at the sunset. Turn and look at the German armaments and weaponry behind you. Tomorrow, this is where it will happen. This is where history will turn, at the cost of thousands of lives. Today, it is just a protected beach. But tomorrow, it will change the course of history.
Olivet is the eschatological Normandy: “On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east. . . . Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him” (Zechariah 14:4–5). This is where Jesus chooses to overnight. You can envision Jesus, teary-eyed, looking into the stars. This is all worth it. One day, I’ll come from there, and I’ll have my beloved with me. Ah yes, my sheep, my holy ones, my bride.
It is remarkable what quietly happens here at Olivet. The “last thing” that Jesus did on his last day of earthly eschatology teaching (Tuesday) is fall asleep on the very mount to which one day he will return. And Luke, for reasons we can imagine, finds that important to include — Jesus camps on what will be God’s own epic conflict with Satan. He returns, night after night: “but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet” (Luke 21:37).
Tuesday’s Practiced Peace
Jesus must have drawn strength from Olivet. Luke later appeals to Jesus’s commute as the habit that spins him into prayer in Gethsemane,
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed. (Luke 22:39–41)
Olivet was the place to which Jesus retired to find hope in God. It was the place where it was all going to end.
“Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows Himself.”
“A revival, then, really means days of heaven upon earth.”
“God’s time for revival is the very darkest hour, when everything seems hopeless. It is always the Lord’s way to go to the very worst cases to manifest His glory.”
“Revivals begin with God’s own people; the Holy Spirit touches their heart anew, and gives them new fervor and compassion, and zeal, new light and life, and when He has thus come to you, He next goes forth to the valley of dry bones! Oh, what responsibility this lays on the Church of God! If you grieve Him away from yourselves, or hinder His visit, then the poor perishing world suffers sorely!”
~ Andrew Bonar
“Study the history of revival. God has always sent revival in the darkest days. Oh, for a mighty, sweeping revival today!”