This week is a sacred week for all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ.  The week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday when we reflect upon and celebrate Jesus’s final days before crucifixion and rose again on the third day, for our forgiveness and salvation. 

This year, I took time to really study Scripture to see what really happened in that week leading up to Easter.  Thinking of this blog at the same time, I realized that there is a lot of things Jesus said during this time that we can relate to orphan care.  Join me in this little journey looking through how some parts of Holy Week relate to orphan care!

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Matthew, Mark, & Luke all record that Jesus drove the corrupt money changers out of the Temple right after he was hailed riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.  After he drove out the moneychangers, Matthew 21:15-16 says:

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things he did [healing the blind and lame], and the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant, and they said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes, have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?”

All children are made to praise.  Whether they have a family that cares for them or not.  All of our orphans are born with a capacity and desire to praise God.  But who will be there to nurture them and help them discover what they were made to do if they are constantly discouraged and neglected?

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

After that, both Matthew & Mark record that the following morning, Jesus was hungry and finds a fig tree. When he realizes that it has no fruit on it, he curses the tree and it withers.  He was human in every way!   The disciples were amazed at this and Matthew 21:21-22 says:

And Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea,” it will happen.  And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.’

This is such an incredible and powerful verse.  Orphans need committed prayer warriors in their lives.  People who will believe for miracles.  Whether you know them by name or not, pray that they will be chosen by a host family, pray that they will resist temptation, pray that God will protect their innocence, pray that their biological family could be restored, pray that God will send ministers to their orphanage, pray that will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior… against all odds!

The Great Commandment

From there, the Bible records that Jesus spent a lot of time sharing truths with his disciples.  This, John 13:34-35,  may be the most significant one from:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

The greatest commandment is that we love God and this one comes next.  We are to love one another.  Orphans need our love.  And when we show how much we love them, all people will know that our love is not of ourselves, but from God.

The Final Judgment

Right before the plot to kill Jesus is revealed, Matthew records an account that Jesus states about the final judgment.  In Matthew 25:42-45 Jesus tells them about those who will be cured at final judgment:

‘For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

A group bringing gifts to S's school last EasterWhat a picture of caring for the orphan.  Jesus makes it a priority, right before his crucifixion, to remind the people of this reality.  Whenever we ignore the needs of others, we are ignoring Him.  Orphans need to be fed, clothed, and welcomed.  When we see those orphans, we see Jesus.  When we minister to orphans in those ways, we are ministering to Jesus.

Who is the Greatest?

The evening before Jesus’s crucifixion was the night of the first Lord’s Supper, or communion as we have it now.  During that dinner, the disciples began to argue about who is the greatest.  Luke 22:26-27 records Jesus’s reply:

…Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at the table or one who serves?  Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

In the spiritual realm, it is the least who is the greatest.  The young and the servant.  What greater role is there to play in God’s kingdom, than to be a servant to the greatest of these, the young and lowly orphan?

Jesus Prays at Gethsemane

Following the Lord’s Supper, Jesus and the disciples go to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.  While Jesus was agonizing over his coming death, the disciples continually fell asleep rather than praying.  In both Matthew 26:41 & Mark 14:38 Jesus tells the disciples:

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

We can become weary of praying.  Our spirits want to pray, but our flesh pulls us away.  Do not become weary of praying for orphans.  Do not fall asleep on the job.  Other things may try to pull us away, and we need to pray that God will help us remain vigilant to pray for them.

The Great Commission

After Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, he reappears to his disciples. Both Matthew and Mark record that Jesus’s last words with his disciples were to give them the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 states:

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Two of the Gospels record these as Jesus’s last words.  To go and make disciples of every nation. There are nations of orphans waiting to hear about God’s love around the world.  Jesus commissions us with the authority to go out and reach them.   And He promises to be with us every step of the way.

May you reflect upon Jesus’s life, words, and sacrifice in a special way this Holy Week.   And maybe even think upon the ways his final days lead us to minister to the orphan. 

 

Христос воскрес! Воистину воскрес!
Christos voskres! Voistinu voskres! 
(Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! )
–Traditional Russian Easter greeting

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