Jonathan Mansur | March 1st, 2018
The events of Holy Week - Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday - convey in one week’s time the full trajectory of the gospel.
On Palm Sunday, Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem with praise! Upon his entry into the city, the crowds - and even children - were quoting Psalm 118 as they exclaimed “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, cf. Psalm 118:25-26). The people knew their King had come to Jerusalem!
As the week progressed, opposition rose, culminating in the betrayal of a friend. Instead of the peoples’ praise, Jesus now heard the religious leaders’ rally: “Crucify, crucify him!” (Luke- 23:21). And Pilate conceded. In stark contrast to the shouts of praise heard at the beginning of the week, Jesus would cry out in pain as he paid the penalty for our sins.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1a ESV)
Sorrowful, the disciples went home for what must’ve seemed like the longest Sabbath day of their lives.
Then, much to their amazement, they heard reports from the women who went to prepare Jesus’ body that he was not there, but had risen. Lo and behold, he himself appeared to them alive indeed!
You can see this gospel trajectory in the hymn Paul quotes in Philippians 2:6-11. It begins in the heights of heaven, follows with the condescension of Jesus “to the point of death.” But then it soars with His super-exaltation as he is risen, ascended, and re-enthroned in heaven. Universal praise befits this event!
We have prepared several things to help us experience this trajectory from height, to depth, to height again.
On Palm Sunday (March 25) not only will we celebrate the beginning events of Holy Week that morning, but we will also celebrate that evening what God is doing in and through our church with our first ‘Celebration Service’. I’m excited for this service because we’ll hear testimonies of how God has led each Sunday school class to serve our community, we’ll share a meal together, we’ll worship together, and we will pray together!
Then, each day of Holy Week you’ll read a meditation written by one of our own church members. These will focus your attention on the cross as Good Friday approaches. In them, we will meditate on the significance of what Jesus said in his final breaths.
On March 30 we will have our first ever Good Friday service at 6:30 p.m. with a “Service of Shadows.” As we leave that service in silence, we will feel - to a lesser degree - the sorrow and sadness of the disciples.
But then comes Sunday. The shadows of Good Friday will make the JOY of Easter that much brighter when we enter with praise, for our Savior is Risen indeed! Because of Jesus, we will sing the victory song with the psalmist:
I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD. (Psalm 118:17 ESV)
Join us as we walk through the gospel trajectory of Holy Week & celebrate our crucified-yet-risen Savior.
- Pastor Jonathan
Or maybe you LOVE the “new” year. Especially this year - I mean, can January 1st on a Monday be any more Type A?! Maybe you look forward to the coming possibilities: you love setting goals and challenging yourself, you look forward to new adventures, etc.
“New” in the church world, however, often brings disgruntled feelings. As I recently announced the New Year, New Us initiative for 2018, several thoughts may have gone through your mind.
“Oh great, what are we changing now?”
“I hope we’re still called First BAPTIST Church after this!”
“The pastor better not show up in skinny jeans!”
I assure you, those last two things ARE NOT changing (especially the skinny jeans - you’re welcome). However, there are some changes - good changes - that are coming. But in reality, these “changes” aren’t necessarily anything “new.” Think of them as “different.” A different way for us to do what is historically old for the Church - since the first century even.
To find out more about this New Year, New Us initiative, listen to the sermon from January 7th.
One thing we anticipate this year is the Lord opening new doors for us to share the gospel with those who do not know Jesus. So our Discipleship University (DiscipleU) will start back this month.
Beginning January 14th at 5:00 p.m., together we will learn the “3 Circles” tool for sharing the gospel. This tool is a simple way to turn everyday conversations into gospel conversations, and will equip us to accomplish our mission to “make Christ known.”
I am excited to see what the Lord will do through our church - not only in 2018, but in the many years to come we have together. What a joy it is to worship, grow, and serve alongside of you.
- Pastor Jonathan