Grow Pray Study (GPS) Week 6

The Last Week

The week starts off with a show of God’s strength and a display of God’s power in Palm Sunday. As the week unfolds, Jesus will experience betrayal and desertion from many in his inner circle. We have come so far with Jesus on this journey. Jesus asks us the same thing he asks his disciples this week. “Stay awake and pray.”

During this last week of Lent, we will be looking at scriptures that allow us to journey with Jesus during his time in Jerusalem on the last week of his earthly life. Use this devotional time to grow closer to the one who gave up everything for you and the rest of God’s children.

Monday – Matthew 21:1-11

This was no ordinary parade. This was Jesus engaged in street theater. Jesus is making a statement against the power, violence, and exploitation of Rome. While Roman officials would have ridden into Jerusalem on war horses, Jesus chose a symbolic animal of peace. God’s power is not measured by the world’s standards. God’s power is located in a peasant who peacefully rides into a city that will kill him in five days. What are some ways that we could participate in non-violent demonstrations that showcase God’s love for everyone?

Tuesday – Matthew 21:12-17

Jesus wastes no time in liberating God’s house for God’s people. It’s one thing to talk about justice. It’s quite another to participate in liberation. The money changers were making a huge profit by exploiting the poor. All throughout the Bible, God has been on the side of the oppressed and the marginalized. This is no exception! How can we work alongside God in proclaiming justice for all?

Wednesday – Matthew 23:37-39

This passage shows God’s full range of forgiveness and devotion to God’s people. Jesus is expressing remorse that Jerusalem won’t listen to him. Not because Jesus is mad at them, but because they are choosing to live outside of God’s desire for them. Even though this is the city that will kill Jesus, he still prays for them and wishes to gather them home. How does it feel to be connected to a God that loves you despite what you do? Our God is ALWAYS on our side and desperately wants the best for us.

Thursday – Matthew 26:26-29

Communion was central to the life of the early Christians. It was a meal where they talked about their day and shared their lives with each other. Jesus is taking this opportunity to break bread with his closest friends. It has since become a ritual in Christian worship, but the heart of communion is still sharing a meal with your church family and God. Jesus shared this table with the one who would deny him three times and with the one who would betray him. Jesus extends an invitation to this table to everyone who wants to partake.

Friday – Matthew 27:45-46

Matthew describes this event with rocks splitting and the earth shaking. The death of Jesus shook even the foundations of the world. It should shake our foundations as well. Do not fall into the temptation of reading this event as something that happened 2000 years ago. The injustice that Jesus stood against and eventually died for is still alive and well in our time. What are some ways that we can shed light on the problems of inequality, racism, and bigotry? If we are not willing to work for justice, then we might as well be the bystanders in this passage who witnessed the death of Jesus and did nothing to stop it.

Saturday – Sabbath Rest

The journey became even harder this week. In fact, the journey became impossible. Jesus was alone on the cross at the end. The disciples were scattered. Peter had denied him. Even the women watched the events unfold from a distance. There are many times we have disappointed God in our faith journey. But tomorrow, God beats death. And we aren’t just invited to watch from a distance. We are invited to take part…

Suggested Daily Prayer

God of commitment and righteousness, we long to follow you to the very end. We acknowledge that it is beyond difficult for us to walk the path that you would have us walk. Give us strength and courage to complete this journey and proclaim new life in you. When we stumble, lift us up. When we doubt ourselves, remind us that we were created by you. When we doubt you, remind us of your power and grace. And when all we see is death and destruction, remind us that with you is abundant life. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.