What would you do if you knew this was the last week of your life?
I’ve been thinking about this question as I took some time to read through the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life from Palm Sunday through Easter.
As I began looking at some of the specific ways He spent His last days on earth, a few stood out to me as priorities followers of Christ should emulate.
1. Jesus didn’t try to please people. (Matthew 21:1-11)
The week starts with the Triumphal Entry—men, women, and children waving palm branches and throwing their cloaks before Him, saying, “Blessed Is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.” It was the pinnacle of Jesus’ popularity. Anyone else would be tempted to ride this wave of popularity, to try to make friends and influence people, at least try to cozy up to the religious leaders and avoid what was coming at the end of the week.
Jesus didn’t do that.
Instead, He overturned the money changers tables in the Temple and told the religious leaders exactly how they had corrupted the true worship of God for profit and power. I literally thought reading Matthew,—-could He have said anything more to tick them off?
Why? Because Jesus didn’t live His life following the fickle feelings of the crowds. Instead, His life was dedicated to fulfilling God’s plan for His life. He knew this included the Triumphal Entry, but it also included the cross. His eyes weren’t on the crowds. They were on His Heavenly Father and doing what pleased Him. That’s where our focus should be as well.
2. Jesus’ final teachings focused on truth. (Matthew 21:12-Matthew 23)
When I read the Scriptures of Jesus overturning the Temple tables and His discourse with the Pharisees, I remember that those who seek to portray Jesus as a weak, wimpy, tolerant, social justice snowflake have never read this portion of Scripture.
Instead, Jesus used His final days on earth to condemn such religious leaders who were perverting the worship of God and God’s Word so that they could gain power and profits.
We follow Jesus’ example when we speak against false doctrines and false teachers today. When we consistently speak Biblical truth, even if it isn’t popular, we follow Jesus’ example.
3. Jesus focused on the future. (Matthew 24-25)
As we read through the Gospel accounts of Passion Week, we see that a great deal of Jesus’ final teachings focused on things that I believe need more emphasis in the modern church. On the Mount of Olives, He taught about Heaven and Hell and the fact that whether we choose or reject God’s offer of salvation determines in which location we will spend eternity.
He talked about the rapture and the need to be following God wholeheartedly, so we are prepared whenever it happens.
He taught about the Great Tribulation and the Final Judgement.
He said that there would be a great falling away during the end times when many would call themselves Christians but would abandon genuine commitment to Christ for false teachings and an immoral lifestyle.
The words He spoke thousands of years ago could not be more relevant today.
Today, we need to be on guard and be ready for the second coming of Christ. Each day, we need to renew our commitment to wholeheartedly following Jesus and obeying God’s Word so that whether the rapture comes or we pass to eternity of natural causes, we will be assured to spend eternity with Jesus.
This should also fuel our passion for evangelism as we recognize life is fleeting, but eternity is forever. Our goal isn’t just to reach Heaven. It’s to take as many people with us as we can.
4. Jesus modeled servanthood. (Matthew 26:17-30)
The early events of Passion Week week were public, but as the cross drew closer, Jesus’ teaching became more private. We see Him gathered in the upper room celebrating the Passover with His disciples on Thursday.
Here He models two beautiful institutions that all Christians can follow.
First, He modeled servanthood when He washed the disciples' feet. This simple act reminds all future followers of Christ that true leaders in the kingdom of God are, first of all, servants. Our calling is not to seek fame, fortune, and power but rather to find ways to serve others and lead them into a relationship with Jesus.
In Communion, we see that Jesus’ life was not taken from Him; instead, He laid it down willingly so that we could have a personal relationship with Jesus.
Seeing these two acts together reminds me of Philippians 2:3-8:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
5. Jesus prayed (Matthew 26:36-46)
Leaving the Upper Room, Jesus knew that He could not face the horrors of the crucifixion without spending time in prayer. He recognized that before He could be the substitution for the world's sins, He needed to spend time with His Heavenly Father, once again submitting His flesh to His divine purpose.
As followers of Christ, we need to recognize this same need in our lives.
Too often, we look at prayer as a “have to” rather than a “get to.” Prayer isn’t a burden; it is a privilege. Like Jesus, we gain the strength and courage to face whatever comes in our lives when we spend time with our Heavenly Father.
We cannot do it alone—we need to spend time in prayer. We fulfill our destiny through the power of the Holy Spirit. That power is found as we spend time alone with God in prayer and worship.
These are just a few things that have stood out to me as I’ve been reading through the Gospels.
They’ve challenged me to make these things a priority in my own life.
After all, if Jesus deemed them essential in the last week of His life, shouldn’t I make them a necessary part of every day of mine?
My challenge to you this week, take some time and read through at least one of the accounts of the week between the Triumphal Entry and Resurrection Day. I guarantee it will give you a new perspective on the upcoming holiday.
As you’re reading, ask yourself, how can I emulate Jesus in my own life?
Whether they be days or months, years or decades, what should I do with the time I have left?
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.