This is it. Thirty-three years of Jesus’ life has led up to this moment. We’ve covered the life of Jesus, as told in the Gospel of Luke, through our sermon series which began on November 30, 2014, with Luke chapter 1. Nearly 70 sermons later, we have 7 left.
After learning about his birth and early years, we jumped into Jesus ministry years, and we’ve been there ever since. Ever so slowly Luke’s telling of the story of Jesus’ life has been building to this moment.
During those ministry years, we watched Jesus burst onto the scene starting with his baptism, temptation and his testy early ministry days in his hometown, where he almost got lynched. But from that dark day, his star shot up. The crowds grew and grew, amazed by his miracles and his authoritative teaching. We watched as he chose his 12 disciples, and had a following of close friends, men and women. Little by little he taught them, gave them behind-the-scenes access into his life and thinking, and eventually sent them on two mission trips. Somewhere in year 2, we think, he turned southward, moving his ministry focus from Galilee in the North, to Samaria and Judea in the south. He left the Galilean crowds behind, but rather quickly huge crowds formed in the south. His ministry had grown nationwide, and Jesus and his disciples had become household names. We watched the religious establishment as they watched Jesus, jealous of him, suspicious, and not happy at all.
All in all, we have seen the words, works and way of Jesus.
The Jewish people in those crowds, including his disciples, thought they were witnessing the rise of their long-awaited political Messiah who was going to save them from the Romans. Jesus was a very different Messiah, however, with a very different salvation message, for the whole world.
The Jews hoped a Davidic warrior King was entering Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. But Jesus wept, knowing that Jerusalem, the temple, the religious establishment and the people had him figured all wrong. So in his last few days of ministry he fended off their attempts to trap him, and he taught them, or at least tried to teach them, who he really was and what he was really about, the mission of God’s Kingdom.
Now this Sunday we reach the end.
Or rather, the beginning of the end.
Jesus has left the temple, never to return. No more crowds. No more teaching. No more miracles, except one.
Luke tells us that it was a holiday, the Passover, the day the Jews celebrated the miraculous act of YHWH as he interceded for them, freeing them from slavery in Egypt thousands of years before. A fitting historical context for what is about to happen. Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate Passover, just as all Jews across the nation would be doing. Except that Jesus injects a new meaning into that celebration. A new meaning that had life-changing implications for the disciples, and still does for us.