When some celebrity dies—such as Princess Diana or Elizabeth Taylor—filmmakers often scramble to put together a documentary that examines the last hours or days of that person's life.
What if you knew you had only one week to live? What actions, what priorities, would be captured on film?
Passion Week—the last week of Jesus' life, before he faced a criminal's execution on a cross—was an extraordinary week. Jesus knew he was going to die in seven days. He knew it would be an excruciatingly painful death. But there's much we can learn from what Jesus taught and from how he acted in the week preceding Easter Sunday.
The weekend before his death, Jesus stayed at the home of three of his closest friends in the small town of Bethany, about two miles outside Jerusalem. These people weren't among his 12 disciples; they were personal friends—Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus chose to spend his last days of freedom with them.
Throughout Jesus' teaching ministry, he emphasizes the importance of community. Jesus continually told all who would listen, "You were created for community with God and others. You were created with a yearning to know and be known, to love and be loved, to serve and be served, to celebrate and be celebrated."
Have you found this kind of community in your life? It's more than good relationships with your family. You need an inner circle of friends who are fellow believers—just as Jesus had—with whom you can be honest, with whom you can "do life" together.
On Palm Sunday—six days before Jesus' death—people lined the streets, waving palms as he entered Jerusalem. It was the first-century equivalent of our ticker-tape parades for heroes down the streets of New York City.
Jesus' popularity was at an all-time high; his teaching had astonishing power. Jesus had changed people's hearts and healed them physically. He'd even recently brought someone back from the dead! By far, Jesus was one of the most popular people in the entire Middle East.
But everyone who lined the streets had a different reason for waving those palms. Some were political activists; they'd heard Jesus had supernatural power, and they wanted him to use it to free Israel from Roman rule. Others had loved ones who were sick or dying. They waved branches, hoping for physical healing. Some were onlookers merely looking for something to do, while others were genuine followers who wished Jesus would establish himself as an earthly king. Jesus was the only one in the parade who knew why he was going to Jerusalem—to die. He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda.