Passion Week: Thursday

by Tanner Blankenship

John the Baptist was the first to recognize Jesus

He proclaimed Him as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) God revealed this to him at Jesus’ baptism (John 1:33). This was shocking to all the Israelites who heard, as they fully understood the significance of a sacrificial lamb. The blood of an animal, particularly a lamb, had always been required for the forgiveness of sins.

When John called Jesus; "The lamb that takes away sin," he was saying the most controversial thing imaginable; “Jesus is the one who will make us right with God.” The writer of Hebrews plainly asserted the same “… Christ… [who] has appeared once for all… to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (9:26) And, earlier in the text; “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (9:22) Throughout scripture, the theme of salvation is clear: the perfect lamb of salvation is Christ, and He alone is necessary.

Later, from Herod’s prison, John the Baptist continued to cling to the hope of salvation. Few could blame him for having one of his disciples go to Jesus and ask; “… are you really the One, or is there another coming?” Jesus’ reply strengthened the discouraged John. “Go and report back what you hear and see. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4, 5)

Even in the middle of those most challenging moments of suffering. Jesus’ words reminded John of that truth. Knowing that his execution was likely soon, John found contentment by completely trusting his Savior.

Martha felt the sting of mixed priorities when Jesus challenged her for excessively worrying.

“Martha, Martha. You are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary…” (Luke 10:41, 42).

Jesus was teaching Martha and the other followers at her home that so many of the things we worry over are unimportant compared to the “One thing necessary.” Martha was in the presence of the Lamb of God, preoccupied with many things. Jesus was the one who could satisfy her anxious spirit both now and forever, and still she carried the weight of worry.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

He wasn’t prepared for Jesus’ answer: “Give up all of your possessions and come follow me.” (Mark 10:17-21)

Not unlike his interaction with Martha, Jesus was saying; “So many things preoccupy you, but they won’t satisfy you and they won’t give you eternal life. Only one thing is necessary, that you come and follow me.” These words were too much for the man. In sadness, he walked away from the only one who could ensure his eternal life.

On Thursday evening, the night before his death, the disciples prepared what would be their last meal with Jesus.

 He had previously warned them that His time to die would come: “The Son of Man must suffer many things… he will be killed…” (Luke 9:22). Just like the blood of a lamb was necessary on the doors of Pharaoh’s Israelite slaves a millennium earlier, Jesus wanted his disciples to know that his blood was necessary for the salvation of all people.

That evening, Jesus took the bread in his hands and broke it, and He took a cup and drank from it. He said; “This is my body which is given for you…” and, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:19, 20) Like the veil in the temple that would soon tear, the covenant of old would tear under the magnitude of Christ’s death. While Christ was preparing for such an unimaginable sacrifice, Judas was plotting to betray Jesus for payment, and the other disciples argued amongst themselves over who was the greatest. The disciples stood in the very presence of the suffering Lamb of God, most concerned about selfish and trivial things.

John faced death, Martha felt anxious, the rich young ruler left Jesus’ presence grieving, and the disciples were concerned over their status among men. Four very different moments of suffering and inconvenience, each situation an opportunity to accept and affirm the better reality that “Jesus is enough.”

The great truth for John, Martha, the rich young ruler, the disciples, and even for each of us today is this: Jesus is always necessary and every other distraction in life is an opportunity for us to let go of trouble and cling to the Savior. There is no other way to have peace, hope, and joy now and forever: Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the necessary answer. The hope for a dying man, the calmness to a young woman with great anxiety, the cure for the person who is never satisfied. The answer to these things and to all things is Christ the Lamb. Every other path that strives towards contentment and salvation is just a dead-end road. He alone is enough for all these things.

Jesus is necessary.

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