Holy Week Devotional Contest: John Piper
What is the most important phrase related to Holy Week, the execution, the death and resurrection of Christ? Is it when Jesus said “It is finished”? Or maybe when He said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”? Both phrases are important parts of our faith and our understanding of who Jesus was, and what the purpose was in His time on Earth. Each of us puts a different importance on each of those vitally important phrases.
I want to take you, for a minute, to the foot of the cross. As Mary watched her son being killed, she must have wondered how the God who loved her had abandoned her in such a cruel way. God knew the suffering Mary was going through, and had compassion on her. To Mary Jesus’s last word, “It is finished,” probably had far less meaning than these words:
When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son”. And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother”. And from then on this disciple took her into his home”. John 19 vs 26-27, NLT.
Mary had been given a calling, thirty something years prior, to be the mother of Jesus Christ. Her Son was supposed to have been the savior of the Jews, the Messiah. He was supposed to have been a savior that had been promised, foretold and prophesied about for thousands of years. As Mary stood at the foot of the cross, barely able to see her son through the tears, how do you think she felt?
Some people argue that Mary knew what was coming. But even Jesus said:
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me” Matthew 27 vs 46b.
God had abandoned Jesus. For the first time in His life, for the first time in eternity, God turned His back on Jesus, and looked away. If Jesus, who knew that this was all a part of the plan, felt abandoned, how could Mary not feel abandoned? God had turned His back on Jesus, but He had not turned His back on Mary.
Jesus was dying a horrific death. Life was draining from His body and He had very little strength left. Yet God loved Mary so much that he gave Jesus the strength to tell her that she was still loved. Even though she probably felt like she had failed, and that God had abandoned her, God was showing her that HE still loved her. God knew what was to come, but Mary did not. In her time of excruciating pain God loved her enough to give her son the strength to say what was, to her, the most important words spoken during Holy Week.
This Holy Week, what pains are you struggling from? Maybe you feel abandoned. Maybe your calling feels like it is not going where you thought it would. Remember this. What Mary thought was the end of God’s favor was actually just the beginning. In the moment, in the hurt, in the frustration, it is hard to see the end of your story…but God is already there. He knows that this moment of pain and frustration will, one day, be eclipsed by the glory that He is leading you towards.
This Holy Week…look up. Look up from where your tears are falling. Look up from the blood-drenched dream in front of you. Look up from the thorn of crowns put painfully on the head of what you thought your calling was. Look up into heaven. Look up to where God can already see your future. Do not let this momentary catastrophe make you lose heart. God has not turned His back on you. It may seem that way, but He has not. Trust Him that, one day, you will look back on this and say, “It seemed like I was finished, but God had only just begun to work in and through me.” The cross may have been the end of Holy Week, but it was just the start of Christ’s true ministry. This catastrophe is not the end of your ministry…it is just the start.
John M Piper is an Author and Podcaster. His book is The Wounded Christian – a Love Letter to a Broken Child of God. John’s ministry brings healing and restoration to those hurt in Church and wounded in ministry in the USA and around the globe.