Lk 19:28-44; Jn 13:1-17; Mt 21:10-17; 26:36-44
The Passion Week. This week’s lesson surveys four major events during passion week which led up to Jesus’ crucifixion: Triumphal Entry, Cleansing of the Temple, Footwashing, and Gethsemane. But mixed in with those major events are pointed conversations with the Jewish leaders about Jesus’ mission and the response of the chosen people (see especially Matthew 21:23 – 22:46). Any one of the events would be worthy of detailed study. Our purpose here will be to survey the overall thrust and structure of passion week.
Discussion questions and themes.
- From honored king to godforsaken petitioner. Note the flow and thrust of the major events which mark Passion Week:
- Honored King (triumphal entry)
- Royal Authority (cleansing of the temple)
- Royal Servant (footwashing)
- Anguished Petitioner ( Gethsemane).
Question: What is the meaning of the movement from high popular acclaim (triumphal entry) to anguished petitioner ( Gethsemane), both for Jesus’ mission and for our daily life? Does the phrase “no crown without a cross” apply both to Jesus and to His followers? Why? Is this tortuous path mandated by God or simply necessitated by the inroads of sin?
- The fickle crowds. The people’s reaction to Jesus moved quickly from wild acclaim to hostile rejection:Question: In our telling of the story of Jesus (evangelism), should we expect acclaim or rejection or both? How did Jesus – and thus the question how do we – balance the tension between rebuking the people for their sins and encouraging them through gracious words and acts of kindly service? What marked the differences in Jesus’ approach? Can we simply follow His methods? If so, how do we know whether to rebuke or to encourage?
In connection with the question of “popularity,” ponder this EGW quote:
The Lord wants His people to follow other methods than that of condemning wrong, even though the condemnation be just. He wants us to do something more than to hurl at our adversaries charges that only drive them further from the truth. The work which Christ came to do in our world was not to erect barriers and constantly thrust upon the people the fact that they were wrong.
He who expects to enlighten a deceived people must come near to them and labor for them in love. He must become a center of holy influence.
In the advocacy of the truth the bitterest opponents should be treated with respect and deference. Some will not respond to our efforts, but will make light of the gospel invitation.
Others – even those whom we suppose to have passed the boundary of God’s mercy – will be won to Christ. The very last work in the controversy may be the enlightenment of those who have not rejected light and evidence, but who have been in midnight darkness and have in ignorance worked against the truth. Therefore treat every man as honest. Speak no word, do no deed, that will confirm any in unbelief – Testimonies 6:121-22.
Question: How does one know if and when exceptions should be made to this gentle thrust?