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Tag Archives: Passion Week

Anointed with a Great Power

One of the disciples makes an interesting observation about Jesus.  Just as Lois Lane sought to comprehend the source of Superman’s powers, Peter points to the anointing of the Holy Spirit to explain Jesus’ great power.  As someone who spent nearly 3 years living and traveling with Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit defied logic and science.  This anointing occurred as followers watched John baptize Jesus in the Jordan River, Matthew 3:13-17.

You know the things that have taken place throughout Judea, starting in Galilee after the baptism preached by John— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with great power; and He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him, Acts 10:37-38.

As Peter watched Jesus day after day perform miracles, a doctor attempts to explain how the Holy Spirit enabled Jesus to heal individuals oppressed by the Devil.  In an era where mental health continues to be a mystery, the Holy Spirit served as x-ray vision to identify unclean spirits messing up the lives of human beings.  The four gospels are filled with testimonies of where Jesus addresses, confronts and casts out demons using the power of the Holy Spirit.

“I have told you these things while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you, John 14:25-26.

As Passion Week, the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, drew close, Jesus gathered his disciples together to reveal a future gift from God.  The disciple whom Jesus loved refers to this spiritual entity as an Advocate, Counselor and Intercessor.  On the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, the Holy Spirit fell upon followers of Jesus.  According to the New Testament, this great power is available to those who are baptized following their conversation.  While the presence of the Holy Spirit may not be as visible today, this great power is awaiting for those who believe.  May the words of the prophet, Joel 2:28-29, deliver a new anointing with great power.

by Jay Mankus

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Opening Your Mind to Understanding the Bible

The element of a person that enables them to become aware of the world and their experiences is the mind. According to a recent study, the average person only uses 10 % of their brain at a time. Thus, human beings are only operating at a tenth of their full potential. In the 2014 film, Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy, a woman who becomes part of a secret case study. After a special drug is created by scientists, this pill enables Lucy’s mind to reach maximum capacity. This movie illustrates what it would be like if human beings could tap into the other 90% of their mind.

Then He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you, everything which has been written about Me in the Law of Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,” Luke 24:44.

During a seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus participates in a conversation that transforms the lives of a couple of his disciples. Based upon the context of the passage above, Jesus’ true identity is hidden until reaching Emmaus. Although the time is not mentioned, this discussion likely occurs over several hours, reflecting upon the events of the Passion Week, the final days of Jesus’ earthly life prior to his resurrection. Apparently, Jesus makes these men think, quoting Moses, Old Testament prophets and the book of Psalms. By the time this conversation concludes, minds are opened to fully understanding the Bible.

Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, Luke 24:45.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in several of his letters to first century Christians. Paul encourages the church at Rome to renew their minds by meditating upon the Scriptures, Romans 12:1-2. To those in Colosse, Paul focuses on setting minds on things above. The context refers to putting to death your sinful nature by setting your mind on eternal causes, Colossians 3:1-17. Perhaps, Paul borrowed this from Joshua who urged the nation of Israel to mediate on God’s Word day and night. As modern individuals emulate this ancient practice, you too can have your mind opened up to the full meaning of the Holy Bible. May this blog inspire you to begin your own journey into examining and studying the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

A Faith Without Hesitation

In 1985 Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly, a high school student who becomes friends with a mad scientist played by Christopher Lloyd.  When Doc Brown creates a time machine out of a Delorean, Michael J. Fox races into the past to save his friends life in Back to the Future.  When his interactions alter the course of his families history, Marty has to convince his father George who is a teenager at the time to ask his mother Lorraine to the dance where they first kissed.  After a band member gets hurt, Marty steps in to set the mood so that this moment occurs.  Before leaving to return to the future, Marty shares a song that hadn’t been introduced to this generation, referring to this as an oldie, but goodie.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest, John 12:24.

One of Jesus’ disciples recalls a special message within his gospel.  During Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth before suffering, dying on a cross and rising again, the passage above was first spoken.  Jesus is providing a foreshadowing of his future fate.  While the disciples were oblivious to this comment at the time, Jesus knew this was his destiny, John 3:16-17.  Just as a grain of wheat must die to yield a harvest, the son of God paid the price for all of mankind’s sin, Colossians 2:13-15.  This is a promise for all generations.

The one who loves his life [eventually] loses it [through death], but the one who hates his life in this world [and is concerned with pleasing God] will keep it for life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must [continue to faithfully] follow Me [without hesitation, holding steadfastly to Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]; and wherever I am [in heaven’s glory], there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him, John 12:25-26.

In the passage above, Jesus explains the way to eternal life.  However, this theory goes against what people are taught, from early education to pursuing a career.  Like the line in the movie Cars “turn right to go left,” Jesus proclaims those who hate life on earth will keep it in heaven.  Initially, this concept is hard to grasp.  Yet, as you meditate, pondering these words, its clear you have to give before you receive.  Until you develop a servant’s heart, putting others before yourself, human nature will pull you toward pleasing your selfish desires.  Thus, as Easter Sunday approaches, may you long for a faith without hesitation, holding steadfast to God’s promises in the Bible no matter what happens in this life.

by Jay Mankus

When the Timing is Right

If you watched the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, you were not disappointed unless your team lost.  Nonetheless, winning this title in baseball is the pinnacle for major league ball players.  However, for one member of the winning Houston Astros, this wasn’t enough.  Similar to the final scene of the 1999 film For the Love of the Game, sometimes relationships are more important.  Thus, getting down on a knee, Carlos Correa proposed to his girl friend during the postgame festivities.  In his mind, the timing was right.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” – Matthew 16:15

During the first century, Jesus arrived in Caesarea Philippi with his disciples.  Led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus felt it was time to have a serious conversation with his ministry team.  After discussing what others believed about him, Jesus wanted to know, “what about you?”  This question set the stage for Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth before his crucifixion.  Following Peter’s confession that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for the events of the future.  This information didn’t sit too well with Peter, who was unable to grasp the fact that Jesus was a heavenly king, not the earthly king of the Jews.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life, Matthew 16:21.

In life, the future is like a blank tapestry waiting to be painted.  Yet, some times you don’t have the materials necessary to start.  On other occasions, you have the tools, but you lack the vision necessary to complete this portrait.  As for me, I was attending a retreat in southern Indiana.  I had recently resigned from my youth ministry position and was unsure of what to do next.  Following a moving presentation, God impressed upon the need to ask my girl friend Leanne to marry me.  The next day, I drove to Chicago, took a twist tie that she gave me as part of a care package and proposed.  When the timing is right, step out in faith while you have the opportunity to act.  By doing this, you fulfill the words of Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

The Philosophy of Jesus

As his reputation as a healer and teacher grew, first century philosophers began to ponder the secret behind Jesus’ success.  Some Greeks approached Philip, one of Jesus’ disciple, hoping to arrange a meeting.  After conferring with Jesus, he agreed to sit down over dinner to share his beliefs.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit, John 12:24.

This meal takes place of the eve of Passion Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Jesus’ crucifixion.  Subsequently, in the previous verse John 12:23, Jesus points to a time when he will lay die his life.  This serves as an introduction to the philosophy of Jesus, you have to die to self before you can trily live.

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life, John 12:25.

I wish I could have seen the looks on the faces of these philosophers.  I’m sure there was some head scratching and strange looks.  Yet, Jesus’ philosophy comes down to two elements: life and death.  Those who want to stay in control never find the abundant life promised in  John 10:10.  Meanwhile, those who are willing give up their life on earth to serve God receive eternal blessings.  This choice is not forced or manipulated.  Rather, its up to you.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Love and Marriage

The sitcom Married with Children mocked the biblical concept of love and marriage.  However, as Christian couples in America began to live hypocritical lives, often resulting in divorce, I guess you can say Hollywood had plenty of material to work with.  Nonetheless, for ten seasons Al Bundy portrayed a new form of love and marriage, laughing at the struggles an average family endures on a weekly basis.

“Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother, Mark 12:19.

During another week in history, “Let’s See if We can Fool Jesus This Time,” also known as Passion Week, the Sadduceees refer to still other aspect of love and marriage.  Referencing Jewish Law found in the Torah, a religious leader tries to play Trivia Pursuit with Jesus.  Before the answer to his question is provided, it is clear he was no match for the King of Kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven, Mark 12:24-25.

Love prior to entering any relationship is tough enough on its own.  However, when you add marriage to this equation, the complication is magnified.  The apostle Paul chose to remain single, not wanting this distraction in his life.  Yet for those who are stuck as Al Bundy often eluded to his own marriage, a different form of love is required, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Therefore, pray for the fruits of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23 so that the love you display may have an eternal impact.

by Jay Mankus

Last Rites

No one except God knows what will be your last day, meal or words.  In the case of Jesus, I guess you can say He was born to die, causing a wide range of emotions.  As the Passion Week approached, interactions with family, friends and disciples would be his last, causing the praises of Hosanna on Palm Sunday to be replaced with “Crucify Him.”

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10

Today, when doctor’s sense the end is near, Catholics call a priest to perform last rites.  Otherwise known as the sacraments of anointing the sick, if death is expected, Penance and Communion is also offered to prepare one’s soul for the afterlife.  Once complete, family members gather around to savor the remaining moments of life together.  The closest thing that I’ve ever experienced was the day my grandfather died, holding his hand one last time before his last breath.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” John 11:25.

While hanging from a cross on Good Friday, there were only two more things left on God’s agenda.  First, Jesus gave hope to one of two criminals hanging from an adjacent cross, offering Him the promise of paradise for his repentant words.  Second, as the oldest son, Jesus wanted to make sure Mary was in good hands, commanding John of Zebedee to watch after his mother.  Though no last rites where necessary for Jesus, a perfect man, Hebrews 4:14-16, Jesus gave up His spirit with one final comment, “it is finished!”

by Jay Mankus

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