Who knew that one day we would wear something on our wrist that records the number of steps we take each day? Who knew that steps were that important?
As the Easter celebration approaches, I have been thinking about the many steps Jesus took on His way to the cross. And the reality that steps can be important makes a lot more sense to me. The divine path Jesus walked before His crucifixion was a long and purposeful one. Jesus’ steps were sacred steps, and were meant to bless and instruct even you and me today. Opinions of the exact movement of Jesus during His final days on earth vary, but many believe this is what it looked like.
Saturday — Adoration
As Jesus approached the coming cross, His steps were lightened as He spent time with dear friends. He had recently and miraculously delivered His friend Lazarus from death and returned him to life. Now in Bethany, Jesus dined with Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary’s love and gratefulness overflowed from within as she poured her costly perfume on the head and feet of Jesus. Those present who objected to this extravagance were missing the point. Mary adored Jesus. Demonstrating this adoration was the right thing to do. Jesus even said so. Without knowing it, she had anointed Jesus’ body for His future burial.
Our gracious deliverance from spiritual death into everlasting life also merits overflowing adoration for our Savior. We are to pour our adoration on Him like the oil that Mary poured from her vial of perfume. When the world doesn’t understand, we do it anyway.
Sunday — Celebration
The next day Jesus journeyed the two miles into Jerusalem and fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would enter the city humbly mounted on a donkey. As Jesus approached the city, He wept. He loved this city that had not loved Him. Jesus arrived presenting Himself as the Passover Lamb, but they didn’t understand. Even so, on this day, many in the city celebrated Him. The streets were filled with color and life and shouts and joy. There were coats laid in the streets. There were branches being cut and spread in the road. The whole crowd was praising God with loud voices for all of the miracles they had seen Jesus perform. They called Jesus blessed and they called Him a King. And they were right.
For all of us who have experienced the triumphant entry of Christ in our hearts, every single day is a reason to celebrate Jesus. He humbly enters our lives exhibiting the miracles of God’s grace and goodness. Laying down continual praises in our blessed King’s presence is our eternal celebration.
Monday — Indignation
Jesus returned to Bethany after His triumphant entry since it was a safe place to avoid an early arrest from the Jewish leaders. Early Monday morning He returned to Jerusalem and made His way to the temple. In the large court of the Gentiles, which surrounded the inner courts, Jesus was confronted with the sights and sounds and smells of a worldly market. People were buying and selling wine, oil and salt along with animals and doves for temple sacrifices. Along the walls were tables where greedy men were making profits exchanging Greek and Roman coins for Jewish coins to pay for temple services. Jesus exposed the situation for what it was; the temple had become a den of robbers and not a house of prayer as God had planned it to be. In righteous indignation Jesus drove out everyone involved. He overturned the tables and the seats and blocked the merchandise from being carried into the temple. The temple had to be restored. It belonged to God.
We can be grateful that Jesus disciplines those He loves. Since our bodies are His temple, He purges our sins. He overturns our greediness. He reminds us that the sights and sounds of the world have no business taking precedence in our hearts. He restores the temple of our hearts for holiness because we belong to Him.
Tuesday and Wednesday — Instruction
Jesus once again took steps toward Jerusalem after another evening in Bethany. He lovingly taught His followers about forgiveness, faith, God’s love, and His coming departure and future return. As He spent the days encouraging the crowds, the religious leaders spent the days plotting against Him and openly questioning His authority. They tested Jesus. They tried to entrap Jesus. They hoped to kill Jesus. Jesus’ friend and disciple, Judas, made plans to betray Him. But none of their plotting or planning could stop the power of Jesus’ words. The crowds were astonished. His words brought truth and hope to all those who would listen. His instruction would later be an anchor in their lives after He was gone.
There will always be an evil in our world that pushes against the realities of Jesus. But Jesus has not left us defenseless. His teachings conquer the lies that otherwise would entrap us. Within the pages of His Word we can know truth, and that truth will set us free.
Thursday — Preparation
The Passover lambs were killed on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That Thursday evening after sunset, the Passover meal was eaten. The disciples looked forward to sharing that meal with Jesus, without knowing that Jesus Himself was the Lamb to be slain for their sins. As they reclined around the table, Jesus prepared them for His death. He broke bread and gave it to them, calling it His body. He passed around a cup of wine for them to drink and called it His blood, poured out for forgiveness of sins. Later the disciples began to argue which of them was greatest. In contrast, Jesus began to wash their feet. He modeled the humble servitude the disciples must soon adopt to build Jesus’ church after His ascension. As they stood from the table to proceed to the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ steps and heart became heavy. In the Garden of Gethsemane He knelt and prayed in great anguish. He was betrayed by Judas to the Roman soldiers and was led to His arrest. But no one forced the steps of Christ. He willingly walked toward His crucifixion as the sacrificial Lamb of God.
The church needs only to look at Christ to know how it is to behave. We are to be humble servants. We are to be willing to set aside our will for God’s will. We are to care for others before ourselves. Great things can be accomplished through Christ’s church because He prepared us. He left His footprints for us to follow.
Friday — Substitution
Jesus spent that dark night probably in the cold dungeon of the High Priest. But first He had endured an unfair interrogation by the Sanhedrin. Jesus would eventually be tried twice. First, in three hearings involving the Jewish religious leaders and second in three hearings involving the Roman political authorities. Jesus was about to die for both groups of these hateful people. Meanwhile, they would falsely accuse Him, mock Him, beat Him and eagerly shove a twisted crown of thorns on His head. Then the cruel Roman soldiers led Jesus away to crucify Him in a place called Golgotha. As Jesus suffered on the cross the soldiers divided His garments and looked up at Him. Looking at Jesus they wrongly saw someone who was worthy of death. Jesus looked down at them and rightly saw the same thing. And so He cried out “It is finished!” and made it possible for all who had abused Him to be released from their sins. He had bore their sins before their very eyes. And some of them would come to believe that.
Words cannot do justice to the work of Christ on the cross. Our vilest thoughts and actions were nailed into His divine hands and feet so we would face the consequences of these sins no more. He is the substitute for all the darkness that once owned us.
What does He want in return? He wants us to look up at the cross. He wants us to confess that it wasn’t Jesus who deserved to die. It was us. He wants us to believe that His sacrifice paid for our sins. He wants us spend the rest of our lives walking sacred steps with Him at our side.