Approaching Holy Week
Approaching Holy Week

We are quickly approaching Holy Week. A large portion of the Gospels speak to the time period between the triumphal entry and the Resurrection. Our attention is necessarily drawn to this week-long span in scripture that is the most transformational time period in human history.  Holy week is the culmination of a journey that Jesus and the disciples take to arrive in Jerusalem. On this journey there is a great amount of testing, teaching, a stop in Jericho with Zaccheus and the healing of blind Bartimaeus, and Jesus even predicts his death and resurrection on multiple occasions. I’ve been thinking about one of the last locations mentioned before Jesus’ arrival in  Jerusalem - the visit to Bethany in which Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead.  We find a number of things in John 11 and 12 that point us to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  There was Lazarus being raised from the dead from within a tomb, a moment that mirrors what is to come with Jesus’ resurrection. It is what comes later in Bethany that seizes my attention as we approach Holy Week. It says in John 12:1-5,

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair… But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 'Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages.'”

We know that Judas really was solely concerned about receiving money that he could take for himself and not the poor, so his concern was deceitful. So, Judas is missing the point, but Mary shows a level of understanding here.  Jesus follows up Judas’ questions with praising Mary for the way she honored him with this beautiful act. I love the anticipatory nature of what was to come with this symbolic preparation of Jesus’ body for burial. Even the disciples struggled to accept and understand who Jesus was all the way up to his arrest and even his resurrection. Mary, in this moment, was seeing Jesus for who he was and is.

Jesus goes on to say the poor you will have with you always, but you won’t always have me. That can seem uncaring, but I think it actually speaks to a beautiful thing. It is basically Jesus saying, the poor you will always be called to care for and love, but I am here, and honor me first and foremost. It is because I have told you to care for the poor that you do so.  Jesus’ presence as a human being on the earth was for a very limited time.  It took priority over everything else, but his presence would lead his disciples and his church to a life of service to others, particularly the poor and vulnerable. I think this is a present reality for us today.  Looking at the first sentence of our Mission at eduKenya, “We are driven by the love of Christ and a desire to glorify God,” follows this idea that Mary displays with Jesus. Our actions must bring glory and honor to God, and that is our starting point before we take any action. Our priority is Christ first, and then we are led by him to serve.

As we head into Holy Week, it is important that we, like Mary, find ourselves clinging to Christ offering our praise and offering our gifts for his name’s sake.  Our plans, purposes, desires and efforts must start with Jesus and his glory and praise. The activity of our lives that follows is a direct response to his Spirit guiding us.  

May God bless you as you enter into his week that offers us our hope.

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