The greatest week in history is well underway. Beginning this past Sunday with Palm Sunday, we began our journey of Holy Week.
After forty-days of striving to become closer to God through an increase in prayer, repentance, fasting, helping those in need, living more simply and even surrendering the most challenging things in our lives that keep us from deepening our relationship with Jesus, millions of people around the world are prayerfully commemorating these holy days, which at their very core are our greatest source of joy, hope and freedom!
How are we to approach these days, and what are we to expect from the week which changed the world forever?
Accompany our Lord Jesus Christ on His ascent
At the heart of the Christian faith, there is an invitation to us to accompany our Lord on His ascent to the cross–to keep watch with Him and to walk with Him as we recall the events of Jesus’ final days.
Sacred Scripture relates that on the Wednesday of the first Holy Week in history, Jesus Christ went to the Mount of Olives. I encourage you to insert yourself into this scene. Now, listen to Jesus as you are at the Mount with Him and the Apostles. It was at the Mount that our Lord shared with the Apostles what was to occur in the next several days, including His death. Now that you are in the scene, what do you say?
Consider sharing with Jesus:
- I give You myself completely.
- I love You. You are sweetness itself, Lord God.
- Thank You for life’s joys and struggles.
- I am sorry for the ways I hurt You.
- I am grateful for being free from viewing pornography.
- I trust that You are providing for me in ways I can’t even comprehend.
Consider humbly asking Jesus:
- Jesus, please help me to know my worth as a son or daughter of God.
- Help me to know that I am lovable.
- Please help me to love You and my neighbor more completely.
- Please help me to say yes to You in little things, so I can say yes to You in big things.
- Take those things away from me that keep me from growing closer to You.
- Increase my desire to be holy. I give You all of my efforts on this Lenten journey.
- Jesus, You know I fell to pornography during this journey. Please point me in the direction to what it is I need in order to become free of this struggle.
It’s the next day. Thursday. You are returning with Jesus to Jerusalem to share the Last Supper with His Apostles. It is a very intimate experience, and you are inspired by the love the Apostles have for Jesus and the love Jesus has for them and for you. The sacred meal is now over.
You and the Apostles go with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is praying and the others are asleep. You remember His words: “Keep watch. Pray that you won’t undergo the test.” As Jesus is praying, you are sitting by the fire and are worried about the ways you aren’t living honestly to the instructions you have heard Jesus give. You begin to write:
“There is more to this life. I desire to give of myself as a complete self-gift. I want to be available to God to give of myself in service to others, including my family and friends. I am struggling with so many things. I don’t want to be viewing pornography all the time. It takes up so much of my time. I want to give of myself in other ways. I want to love God and my family. I want to feed the hungry, visit the sick, excel at work, use my God-given gifts in the ways that God desires me to use them. I have a path that God has set for me. It will include suffering, obedience and denial. I can do it, because I see Jesus doing it. He has gone before me as an example.”
You see guards coming…they are now arresting Jesus. He is taken to be tried. Jesus takes up His cross. You offer Jesus consolation when you have a moment near Him and say:
“I resolve to take up my cross too, Lord. I will suffer through temptations, struggles and through witnessing to the radical love that you call each of us to. In this Lord, I am accompanying you on your ascent.”
It was Friday, Jesus was crucified at noon at Calvary, a location outside Jerusalem’s walls. He died at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon.
Jesus said: “I am He.”
During Jesus’ public ministry, people would ask the question “Who are you?” His response: “I am He.”
In this response, Jesus was pointing to God the Father–the one who sent Him for the particular mission of the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. This became clearer to the onlookers and people who asked Jesus who He was, when Jesus takes up His cross on that Good Friday. Thus the Scripture verse, “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am He” (John 8:28). Why does it become clearer though? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says this:
“On the cross, His Sonship, His oneness with the Father, becomes visible. The cross is to the true “height.” It is the height of “love to the end” (John 13:1). On the Cross, Jesus is exalted to the very “height” of the God who is love. It is there that He can be “known,” that the “I am He” can be recognized.”
The cross signifies identity based on divine love. Jesus’ Sonship and oneness with the Father comes through. Our identity of sons and daughters is also based on this.
Experience Christ’ love this Easter
Jesus was buried on that same day, and rose three days later, on Easter Sunday.
With Jesus, we accompany our Lord on His ascent, we carry our crosses– faithfully living to our call as Christians and stand for love to the end. While we have all fallen, we pick ourselves back up because we know there is more, there is authentic and holy love available to us from God. This love is available to us to shine through our lives onto others. The Passion and Resurrection make this possible.
So many who struggle with pornography feel lost, alone and unlovable, this Easter season is an important time to reflect on the love that Christ has shown, for all of our sins, pornography included. Take heart in His love and forgiveness this season.
On behalf of all of Covenant Eyes, may you and your loved ones be renewed with great hope and freedom as you accompany our Lord on His ascent and as you enter into the Easter Season with great rejoicing in the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Eternal Life that is to come! Let the Easter bells ring!