Several years ago I taught a Sunday School lesson on “The Journey to the Cross” in which I sketched a brief outline of the daily events in the life of Jesus from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. I found that others really enjoyed the teaching, partly because it is very practical, facilitates an interesting self-study of the Scriptures, and helps us to identify with the story. I thought I would review it myself and pass it along.
I encourage you to follow along in the Scriptures (I use the Gospel of Mark chapters 11-16 with corresponding references) in a sort of daily devotional style for this week, do deeper study, and allow the Lord to speak to you from His Word. There is A LOT to consider in each of these passages, and I just provide a brief outline with highlights that will hopefully lead you into deeper reflection.
Of special importance is the misunderstanding that the disciples had concerning the Kingdom of God and Jesus’ mission on earth. One can sense the emotional roller coaster as they interpreted His actions to signify the establishment of a kingdom in which they would have position and rule over the Romans, and then realize the error in their thoughts.
Sunday – Mark 11:1-11 “Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem”
(Matt 21:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19)
In Mark 10:32-34 Jesus warned the disciples of His coming death, which they received with little regard:
- James and John request special places in Christ’s glory. The others got angry at the request, not so much because James and John asked, but because they asked first. They were expecting immediate promotion. Jesus asks, “Can you drink from my cup?” – a cup of service, suffering, and sacrifice.
- As Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt they shouted “Hosanna…” During this time, it was said to be illegal to wave palm branches. “Hosanna” is interpreted to mean “Save now!” This event was in fact an illegal uprising against the established rule of the day. Days later, the false motives and emotionalism of the moment would be revealed as those who cried “Hosanna” would then cry “Crucify Him!”
- They were sure Jesus had come to establish His kingdom on earth. How have we misunderstood the principles of the Kingdom of God.
Monday – Mark 11:12-19 “Temple Eviction”
(Matt 21:12-22; Luke 19:45-47; John 2:13-16 – possibly different occasion)
Each morning Jesus entered Jerusalem and each night he returned to Bethany.
The excitement increases as Jesus casts the money changers out of the Temple with authority. The more Jesus exhibits authority, the more His followers are sure He has come to establish an earthly kingdom.
Tuesday – Mark 11:20-13:37 “Jesus Teaches, Defends Against Public Leaders”
(Matt 21:23 – 25:46; Luke 20-21)
Once again entering the city, Jesus begins teaching His disciples and His authority is questioned:
- By chief priests, scribes, and elders (Mark 11:27-33)
- By Pharisees and the Herodians (Mark 12:13-17)
- By the Sadducees (Mark 12:18-27)
Jesus teaches about:
- The Signs of the End Times
- The Second Coming
Even before His death and ascension, Jesus is speaking of the last days and His return to establish the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of Jesus is a complete or whole Gospel, one which includes His birth, life, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, position at the right hand of God, and His second coming. All are significant and all have implications for life as followers of Christ.
Wednesday – Mark 14:1-11 “Plot to Kill, Anointing at Bethany, Judas Agrees to Betray”
(Matt 26; Luke 22; John 11-17)
Wednesday begins like a movie – a flashback to a few days before – the first signs of trouble.
- The chief priests and scribes plot to kill Jesus.
Jesus spends the day resting in Bethany and is anointed.
Thursday – Mark 14:12-72 “Passover/Last Supper, Prayer in Garden, Arrest, and Denial”
(Matt 26-27; Luke 22-23:25; John 18)
Things have now gone awry. The glory of last Sunday soon fades away, as the events of the impending crucifixion are set in motion. Here, communion/the eucharist is established. Maybe you have experienced disappointment, betrayal, suffering, or other troubling situations. Perhaps you can in some way identify with Christ such that He can bring healing to your situation.
Friday – Mark (chapter) 15 “The Crucifixion”
A passage very near to my heart, and one upon which I must reflect as I consider the suffering and death of Christ, is Isaiah 53.
Saturday – Time between chapters 15 & 16 (ref. 15:42, 16:1) “The Sabbath Rest”
Imagine the uncertainty, the disappointment, and the sense of hopelessness that the disciples felt. Perhaps this is the way unbelievers everywhere live when they have not entered into relationship with Christ.
Consider what was being accomplished as Christ “led captivity captive” and “took the keys of death, Hell, and the grave.”
Sunday – Mark 16:1-8 “He is Risen”
Perhaps you or someone you know is struggling during these times of uncertainty, economic turmoil, and stress. Maybe you are living in the grief and pain of “Friday” or the uncertainty of “Saturday.” I will simply leave you with the encouraging words that I heard someone preach several years ago…”SUNDAY’S COMING!”