What Happened During Holy Week?

A few years ago, Justin Taylor posted a great short series on Holy Week that looked at each day of Jesus’ final week leading into his crucifixion and resurrection. It’s a helpful resource for personal devotional study this week as you prepare for celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ this coming Lord’s Day.

Holy Week: What Happened on Sunday?

Holy Week: What Happened on Monday?

Holy Week: What Happened on Tuesday?

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Holy Week: What Happened on Thursday?

Holy Week: What Happened on Friday?

Holy Week: What Happened on Sunday?

Note that there are two Sundays. The first marks the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which many churches commemorated last Lord’s Day by celebrating Palm Sunday. The second Sunday is of course the day of the resurrection. There is no post for Saturday, because on that day Jesus was dead in the tomb and his followers were despairing. But on that second Sunday, up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes!

(Note: This post was cross-published at Christian Thought & TraditionImage credit)

 

Going Home

Children grow up and leave home, and then on occasions return home. “Going home” may involve a trip to the place we’ve known since childhood, a gathering of family for a holiday in a place where part of our family now resides, or the inevitable journey to be with a dying loved one.

I have in the past shared the story of my parents and their illnesses, as well as the struggles of my Mom, who was stricken with Alzheimer’s some years ago. In the most recent blog about visiting my dying mother I wrote of Mom’s fervent wish, stated after the death of Dad, her husband of 53 years, that she wanted to “go home.” My brother at first thought she meant she wanted to return to his house from the nursing home where we had finally determined to place her. But she corrected him and informed him that he wasn’t listening to her – she wanted to go home, to the home prepared for her by Jesus.

Mom has now gone home. We were told the weekend before last that she probably did not have much time left. My brothers and sister and I gathered with her and remained with her round the clock during her final days. This past Wednesday in the late evening we were at her bedside, and it was obvious she would not survive the night.

Though we were never sure if she could hear or understand us, we told her how much we loved her, we thanked her for her great love for us, and we prayed – commending her soul to our God and asking God to send his angels to carry her to eternal rest. At the conclusion of that prayer she lingered for a few moments, she took one final breath, and she made that final journey to the arms of her Savior. Mom is free from the struggles that attended her later years of life; she suffers no more.

We feel loss, of course, even though we have known for years this day would come. The cessation of her heartbeat is a reminder to us that, for this time, our mother is with us no more. But the death of her physical body serves as a reminder that we will be together again, we who are in Christ, and that these dying bodies will be raised in the last day by the resurrected Lord.

One of the sweet nurses, one of the many dear souls who have attended so wonderfully to our mother, reminded us that such confidence is well-founded because Christ is risen from the dead. As she said that, I realized how the truth of the cross and resurrection never gets old, it never fails to matter. It is for us today the hope of all hopes.

So I have journeyed home for the last time to see my mother. And she has journeyed home this final time to meet her Savior. And I will remember from now on that every journey “home” – whether to a place, or for a holiday, or for another death – is a reminder of that final journey.

You lived well, Mom. You loved us and cared for us in a manner that reminded us daily of Christ and the gospel. And because your life is hidden with Christ in God, you have entered your rest. Requiescat in pace.

Assisting Gospel-Driven Churches: A Reminder to Baptist Bureaucrats, Part 2

This is the second post in a two-part article titled “Assisting Gospel-Driven Churches: A Reminder to Baptist Bureaucrats.” The sermon was preached in the weekly chapel service of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina on September 8, 2008. I want to thank the executive leadership of the BSCNC for the invitation to preach and their blessing in publishing the sermon manuscript here at Between the Times. The earlier post can be read here.

Assisting Gospel-Driven Churches: A Reminder to Baptist Bureaucrats
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

II. Gospel-Driven Churches Place their Confidence in the Right Place (1:26-31)

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Having just finished explaining how the gospel seems like folly to the lost world, Paul now turns to Christians themselves and notes that the verdict is not much better; they were not very wise, not very powerful, and not very noble. Try applying for a job at the state convention with that resume!

But God is not hedged in by these limitations. He chooses the foolish to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong. It is the low and the despised and the nobodies that God uses. I think Paul sounds a lot like Jesus, who teaches us in the Gospels that the world’s hierarchies don’t really matter, because in the kingdom it’s the last who are first.

And why are things this way? Verse 29 tells us: So that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Instead of boasting on the basis of our own feeble talents and accomplishments, Paul tells us to boast in the Lord because we have believed the gospel and are now in Christ. Jesus Christ is the wisdom from God and he is our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. This is just another way of saying Christ is the one who has saved us, is saving us, and will save us at the last day.

Brothers and sisters, we have nothing if we do not have Christ. This is true for us as individuals, it is true for our churches, and it is true for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and Southeastern Seminary.

Since we are all family here and we are co-laborers as denominational servants, let me speak very candidly with you: Southern Baptists, including those of us who live in North Carolina, don’t have the best track record when it comes to humility. Since at least the mid-20th century, all you have to do is attend any type of denominational meeting and you will hear some of the most rank bragging on earth:

“We are the largest Protestant denomination in America”

“We have the largest seminaries in the world”

“We have the largest force of foreign missionaries on the planet”

“We have clout with the people in Washington”

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is just as bad when it comes to this type of thing: look at this great new program we have launched, look at how big we are, look how many people we had at this conference. We . . . we . . . we . . . we . . . we.

Brothers and sisters, God does not need the SBC or the state convention. Every single person in this room is expendable, our jobs are not necessary, and the churches do not have to have us around to do the work they are called to do.

And to be frank, many of them know this.

So if we are actually going to assist the churches in fulfilling their divinely appointed mission, then we had best remember that we do not exist for our own sake. The Cooperative Program, state missions budgets, programs, conferences-all these things are helpful, but they are not necessary. These things are all temporary, but they are not permanent.

Verse 31 says, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. This is our calling as Christians, this is our calling as churches, and this is our calling as denominational servants.

Because Gospel-driven churches put their confidence in the right place, denominational servants must guard against falling into the trap of thinking we are essential. We are a means, not an end, and to suggest otherwise, even implicitly, is the height of hubris and a disservice to the churches we claim to serve. Brothers and sisters, only Christ is essential, and we are only valuable insofar as we assist churches in proclaiming him.

Conclusion

I am thankful for almost everything that I hear about the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. I think that God is doing a work of renewal in this convention, just as I trust he is doing a work of renewal in the Southern Baptist Convention. But we need to remember that both the state convention and the SBC were created to serve the churches. Some of the churches out there need some convincing, and the burden is on you and I to prove to them that we want to assist them–and can assist them–in becoming the kinds of churches that God would have them to be.

I am delighted to labor alongside you in serving the churches for the sake of the gospel. May God grant us great grace and abundant wisdom as we seek to assist gospel-driven churches in North Carolina, North America, and the uttermost parts of the earth.