THE FINAL WEEK OF JESUS
Years ago, I bought a Max Lucado book entitled the Final Week of Jesus. It is a great book that I try to use as a devotional every year the week before Easter Sunday. I find Max Lucado as one of the best Christian authors out there and the Final Week of Jesus is exceptional in preparing my mind and heart for the Easter season.In contrast, I am a Christian cartoonist and while the medium of cartooning may not be best suited for the Holy Week.. but this is what I do. My intention is to NEVER be disrespectful of these great moments in the history of our Christian faith, but sometimes I believe a cartoon captures the incredible images of irony during this last week of Jesus life. I pray you find the words I write, and the images I have drawn as honoring to God and that any smirking humor you may find be in the players of this final week. Some of the venues, characters, bumbles and stumbles are a little hard for me to wrap my brain around with using a cartoon to communicate what is inside this one christian cartoonists brain.
In all things, TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
FRIDAY Just 1 week before the crucifixion of Jesus the gospels tell us about 'Dinner at Simon's.
I do need to clarify, this happening event when former leper Simon throws a dinner party with former dead person Lazarus attending. Of course while not being an expert at throwing or attending parties.. former lepers and dead folk are not what you would find at let's say a Hollywood party after the Academy Awards. Then again this former leper and dead person were now more alive than most anything found in the spiritual death valley of Hollywood.But 2000 years ago both Simon and Lazarus are lookin’ good for a couple guys who had either 1 or both feet in the grave. Never the less I would have been very careful about the finger foods being served by a former leper. I think you get my point and DO NOT need this cartoonist to draw you a picture. Then what became an awkward dinner party moment was Mary performing the extravagant act of love by washing Jesus feet with her hair, her tears, and expensive perfume. Of course Judas is aghast as he missing the point of this extravagant act of loveand worship of Jesus as he instead puts a dollar value on wasting this expensive perfume wasted on dusty feet.
Just a couple short days later we have the first Palm Sunday.Of course today the grandmarshal of any parade would be riding in maybe a convertible corvette or some other equally impressive car. But 2000 years ago the ride of choice for a proper triumphant entry fit for a king was a.. donkey. Go figure!
So Jesus sends of a couple disciples to request the right ride with the words... "The Master has need of it." But... as Jesus rides down the streets on this 'choice' donkey to cheering crowds (even some OUT STATE tourists cheered) declaring Jesus king.
Here again in this Holy Week we have great irony in the crowds this first Palm Sunday shouting Hosanna, then five short days later would be crying CRUCIFY HIM!
But while the crowd was celebrating Jeus triumphant entry into Jerusalem there were a few what I would describe as Palm Sunday Pouters. All were indignant of these crowds honoring Jesus and even a few others were mostly jealous of his sweet ride.
Also caught up in the celebratory crowd was the donkey Jesus rode who foolishly thought the crowds were cheering him! BUT just a couple days later this same donkey was over his embarrasement and back at his stable could be found bragging and signing autographs with the other barnyard folk. And let me not forget to tell you about the donkey who turned down the chance to be that Palm Sunday donkey because it the time coincided with his Sunday afternoon nap. He later lamented in high drama ‘On the Stable Front’ a life wasted as a bum when he could have A CONTENDER!.MONDAY As the final week of Jesus continues, we find Jesus frustrated with more than just a case of the Mondays.. but instead with the true mess the temple had become.
The Temple should be the house of worship instead the moneychangers/ATMs , and a market place featuring the temple birds salesman, the slinkee and pet rocks table, and the Bible Bobblehead vendors reducing the temple into a true den of thieves.
I guess frustrated was a true understatement as he clears the temple.
After turning over a few tables in the Temple, Jesus took out his angst by cursing an innocent fig tree.
This was a lesson NOT LOST on his disciples.TUESDAY & WEDNESDAYSo onward and forward to the middle of the week Jesus keeps on teaching and reaching out to others.
To me it is sadly ironic that so quickly after Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem all seems forgotten culminating when Judas INFAMOUS plan of betrayal is made.THURSDAY While midweek was the calm before the storm.. Thursday is when the purpose of the Holy week and all the pieces of the Easter message came together.
In the evening a room is prepared for the emotional gathering of Jesus and his disciples to share in The Last Supper.
They were innocently oblivious to what was about to happen and I believe so would all of us. There were only quiet words and compassion expressed between Jesus and his closest friends on this night.
Of course as a cartoonist I do have one little toon lamenting the risks of breaking bread in fear of bad carbs.
The Garden of Gethsemane was the next setting where Jesus prepared for the time of his arrest, and for what was to happen in the coming hours. None of this was a surprise to Jesus as it all was part of God's plan to save the world. Jesus prays while his disciples sleep, and while Jesus continues to agonize over what is to come, he prays "not my will but yours be done" and Satan is stomped. all while Judas approaches with Jesus captors.
The Arrest of Jesus.. While Jesus knew his arrest was eminent it was a shock and emotional devastation for his disciples who just the Sunday before were effectively the presidential cabinet for the soon to be exalted King of the Jews. So as Jesus is arrested his captors initially fall over like dominos.
Then Peter leaps into action to save ironically the.. Savior and chops off the ear of one of those in the arresting party, but Jesus heals the severed ear and then does a quick check with the words.. " Can you hear me now? Good. "So the disciples scatter in fear, and Jesus is brought before the religous leaders for an graveyard shift fixed courtroom.
This was no true trial as the verdict had been decided well before the arrest of Jesus. The hatred of Jesus by the Jewish religous folk of the day inspired this after midnight travesty of justic. Justice was not the purpose of this gathering, but the death of this man named Jesus was.
The testimonies against Jesus were supported and fixed as a parade of false testimonials, and teller of tall tales were brought forward as witnesses for the state.
This was no true trial as the verdict had been decided well before the arrest of Jesus. The hatred of Jesus by his captors inspired this after midnight travesty of justic. Justice was not the purpose of this gathering, but the death of this man named Jesus was.These lies against Jesus were used to fuel high drama in this early morning mock court in session. One priest cried out in what I could only describe as a high priestly conniption fit, and another fellow priest who clinically speaking simply went.. BOING!
FRIDAY.. Good Friday is that most sobering day of days of the Holy week when Jesus is nailed to the cross and dies.. BUT of course the death of Jesus on Good Friday was just a prelude to the complete story of salvation which is the resurrection of Jesus Christ in just 3 days!
As mentioned earlier the disciples never saw the arrest of Jesus coming and ran away in the night at the time of Jesus arrest. Then while the Jewish portion of his trial was going on, Peter falls farther from God as in a panic in the courtyard he deniesthat he even knew Jesus. Then Judas, the disciple of Jesus feels the shame and burden of his betrayal for just 30 pieces of silver and goes out and hangs himself. (insert link to judas state of mind here)Next.. the trial of Jesus moves from the Jewish Night Court to the courts of Herod and Pilate. Though Jesus was an innocent man, he was chosen by the chants of a jeering crowd to be crucified in place of career criminal Barabbas.
Just think, on Sunday the crowds shouted HOSANNA, and just 5 days later they shout CRUCIFY HIM! I would like to think these were two entirely different crowds of people, but after enduring a few election cycles in America in my lifetime I have observered man is at best.. fickle.
So at the end of the trials.. Barabbas believes he is free, Pilate believes he was in control, and Satan believed he won the battle. In reality they were all just players in the salvation plan orchestrated by God
So if they were just pawns in God's Passion Play there is another question.. Who was to blame for the crucifixion of Jesus?
We are all sinners, and Jesus came to Earth to live amongst us, to teach us, to die, and be ressurected for our sins. We are the reason Jesus was crucified for our sins while nailed to that cross.Using my glaring flawed human nature, I don't understand the necessity of Jesus being crucified. If I were Jesus then I would have chosen a Plan B, and not chose a salvation plan that included me leaving HEAVEN to live, preach, and die for a mix of mankind that in comparison to Heaven is at best a carnival side show. That is why it took the very son of God to live out this plan. This is pure love, perfect love, strong love.. and from this love we find salvation.
THE CRUCIFIXION The beatings and crucifixion of Jesus are not proper material for a cartoonist, and beyond the comprehension of my comfortable world.
To think this was all part of God's plan for salvation and even when nailed to a CROSS Jesus still shows compassion and perspective that is incomparable with the words "Father Forgive Them for they know not what they do." and then with his last breath Jesus declares "It is Finished!"
With these final words JESUS DIES. Then the skies turn Dark, the guards grow afraid , the ground shakes, and the Temple Curtain Tears from top to bottom!
But the message of the Cross though lost at this grievous moment is the very POWER OF GOD. This amazing story of grace and love by the son of God crucified on a cross as a sacrifice for a fallen world is about to be completed on that first Easter morning.Even while hanging on that cross Jesus shares this same grace and love to the repentant Thief on the cross when he asked Jesus to remember him when you are in your kingdom, and Jesus replied.. "Today, you will be with me in paradise." This moment was another example of the heart of the gospel. God's grace is not about our report card. It is love and forgiveness of a loving parent.
SATURDAY..While I don't believe anything is written to have occurred on Saturday it had to be the longest day of confusion and reflection for all involved.
I wonder if Pilate could move past what he did on Friday washing his hands of Jesus crucifixion though he approved it. The High Priests who convicted Jesus with the legalistic contempt and jealousy of Jesus were having second thoughts, OR were they more concerned about WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS TORN TEMPLE CURTAIN?.. does their temple insurance policy cover supernatural earthquakes when God shakes the earth after you have falsely convicted His son? I don't think so.
What did Satan think? Did he actually believe he had won or simply trying to enjoy the moment that he knew would soon be over.. and LOST. What about Jesus disciples, his followers? I can't imagine the empty gut feeling his disciples must have had the day Jesus was crucified, or their range of emotions the next day. In less than 1 week their lives had moved from the adrenaline rush of that first Palm Sunday as Jesus was welcomed by cheering crowds, but just 5 short days later he is falsely convicted and crucified to jeering crowds. From exhilarated to heart sick in 5 short days. Finally, what about Mary the mother of Jesus? What must it felt like to be the chosen mother of God now seeing her son Jesus crucified. I know a pure mothers heart loves unconditionally and is always there for her child no matter their choices and shortcomings, BUT Mary's first born was perfect.. and not just in the eyes of a mother. Her life journey from being the chosen mother of the Messiah that first Christmas morning to the crucifixion of her son. I can only imagine Saturday was a day of processing and prayer like never before. Where in the face of what appeared to be the finality of Jesus death there was still the teachings of hope and of Jesus bigger plan. After all the miracles and inspired teachings and all the times feeling Jesus love for them I believe they believed it was not over.
SUNDAY!! Empty Tomb.. Risen SaviorEach of the 4 gospels recounts Jesus resurrection from a slightly different perspective, but all confirm the same truth that Jesus was alive!
This Sunday morning moved quickly
While the details of each gospel shared varied the focus of the message in each gospel was the same. JESUS IS RISEN!.. He is Risen INDEED!
This rollercoaster ride week was now riding high as Independence Day from sin was here! From Jesus humble beginnings being born in a barn, through his sinless, selfless life, to his undeserved brutal death on the cross, and now finally his resurrection this all marked that God's perfect plan of love and salvation was complete. There was a CSI Empty Tomb which could NOT resolve the case of the resurrected savior based on the laws of nature. There findings were the empty tomb could only be explained if the supernatural hand of God was included in the evidence. Bottom line .. JESUS IS ALIVE!.. and no matter what kind of cover up scheme was deployed there was now an EMPTY TOMB FOR SALE .. dare I say still with that fresh tomb smell!
TODAY EASTER..has become a time where regular church attendees are joined with CE (Christmas and Easter) attendees making their second pilgrimage of the year to church. Along with these two groups are a blend of people who enjoy the Easter fantasy and fun of coloring eggs, Easter egg hunts, and the hiding of Easter baskets on Sunday morning. For me all of these parts of today's Easter and more are a welcomed part ofcelebrating Easter, As long as we realize the difference between the cute tradition of the Easter bunny, and the Amazing Truth of a Risen Savior it is all good. To ignore, forget, or not having a place to celebrate Jesus Christ as our risen savior at Easter would be sadly unfortunate. May God bless and speak to each of you regarding the Holy week of Jesus. May His message of perfect love and grace as demonstrated by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ impact you like never before.
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF EASTER Finally a small collection of toons Easter Sermon Caveman colors Eggs The Easter Chick
Punk/Goth Bunny? Chocolate Bunnies
and.. The rest of the Back Pew Easter gang
This page is a collection of words and cartoons recalling the final week of Jesus including Palm Sunday,The Last Supper, Gethsemane, Good Friday, and that first Easter Morning