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The Week of the Atonement

A walk with the Savior during the last week of His life, by Brother Larry D. Crenshaw

It is Saturday, the holy Sabbath, Jesus has finished His ministry up north, east of the River Jordan. Jesus is honored by the people of Bethany with a banquet in the house of Simon the leper. There is Lazarus who was raised from the dead looking on as Mary anoints Jesus’ head and feet with precious oil. Jesus hints of His forthcoming fate, “…against the day of my burying hath she kept this.  For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” (John 12: 7-8) Saturday is now over and we rest in Bethany.

It is now Sunday, we arise and we go with Jesus to Jerusalem as he rides into the city on a donkey in symbolic triumph, echoing David’s entry into the Holy City. The city’s population has swelled to about two million for the Passover celebrations.  Spurred on by His resurrection of Lazarus, and with tales of great miracles, we hail Jesus as the “promised Messiah”. 

Of those of us who worship Him on this day, many will be calling for His death by Thursday and Friday.  Like many, they look beyond the mark.  Their “kingdom” was not His “kingdom”. On Thursday night, when we will hear Him say, “My kingdom is not of this world,” they will feel betrayed and abandon Him. It is now Sunday evening and we return with Him to Bethany.

It is now Monday, We return to Jerusalem.  Along the way Jesus curses a barren fig tree that dries up from the roots.  While in Jerusalem he cleanses the temple a second time, and therein he teaches and heals with great power.  After a day of preaching we return again to Bethany to retire for the evening.

As we arise on Tuesday we go again into Jerusalem, with Jesus teaching along the way of faith and salvation.  With Jesus being acclaimed by more and more each day, the scribes and elders become more afraid and conspire to refute Him. After careful planning and crafting of precise language they present for Him their trap. They ask, “By what authority do you do these things?” (Meaning: cleansing the Temple, raising the dead, healing, etc.)  After all, Jesus had not received rabbinical sanction from the elders.  Here, then was their plan to discredit Him. 

His response was to trap them in their own deceit, which would ultimately seal His doom at their hands.  Says he, (now listen to the brilliance of this question) “The baptism of John, whence was it” from heaven or of men?” [In just a moment, they are trapped with no way out!]  For to say “heaven” would condemn themselves for they had not obeyed John the Baptist’s teachings.  To say, “of men”, they would be stoned by the multitudes who believed John to be a true prophet.    With no room to escape, they are forced to say, “We cannot tell.”  Jesus’ response, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” 

The multitude thinks that it is over now, the Messiah and King has won – they are ready to open the palace gates – and say “move over Rome” – prepare the crown – the king of the Jews has won – prepare for the takeover of the government.  The Jewish leaders slink away in defeat, but they will come again today – this time not to entrap with Jewish law but with Roman law. 

We now hear Jesus teach three parables (Parable of the Two Sons, The Wicked Husbandman, and the marriage of the King’s son, all recorded in Matthew 21 & 22. 

But now here comes the Jewish leaders again to trick Him into provoking Roman authority, asking, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?”  We know His response, asking for a coin, He inquires, “Whose image?” – Response: “CAESAR’S” – then He says those immortal words, “Therefore, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesars, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Once again, not only defeated, but devastated they “go away”. 

Jesus now teaches about eternal marriage, the law of love, gives a testimony of the Messiahship. He further condemns the Scribes and Pharisees with the famous EIGHT WOES recorded in Matthew 23: “Woe unto you…

  1. For rejecting Christ and salvation
  2. For hypocrisy
  3. For converting souls to a false church
  4. For moral blindness
  5. For omitting the weightier matters of the law
  6. For hiding your wickedness
  7. For wearing the mask of righteousness
  8. For rejecting the living prophets”

We now hear His final teaching that day in the temple as He laments over a doomed Jerusalem. He then tells the story of the widow’s mite, and concludes with a sermon on the question, “Who is the Son of Man?”

And with that, His public ministry on earth is ended and He leaves the temple forever going with His disciples, eastward over to Mount Olivet.  The masterful discourses of this day, Tuesday, are only a prelude to that which is to come this evening which is now known as the “OLIVET DISCOURSE”.  On this Mount, tonight we will hear eleven powerful doctrines concerning:

  1. Persecution and Martyrdom Matt.24
  2. Jerusalem’s Abomination of Desolation
  3. Universal Apostasy before the Second Coming
  4. An Era of Restoration before the Second Coming
  5. Desolations Preceding the Second Coming
  6. The Times of the Gentiles
  7. The Abomination of Desolation at the 2nd Coming
  8. The Glory and Signs of the Second Coming
  9. Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25: 1-13)
  10. Parable of the Ten Talents (Matt. 25:13-14
  11. Christ sitting in Judgment

Now, this day, Tuesday, is over and thus concludes perhaps the greatest day of preaching truth the world has ever known.

It is now Wednesday, two days before the feast of the Passover. Of this day, only one sentence has come down to us, “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” It is also the day of conspiracy as Judas goes to work his evil deeds.

It is now Thursday, and Jerusalem is a beehive of activity preparing for the Passover celebration, the Paschal Supper.  But unbeknownst to the two million inhabitants and visitors to Jerusalem, it will be the last Passover rite sanctioned by God.  For to come in its place will be the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. 

Peter and John spend the day preparing the location and the meal. The ritualized meal, known to us as the Last Supper, is consumed and Jesus re-introduces two ordinances, the partaking of the sacrament, and the washing of feet.  These being completed, He provides further teachings on the Law of Love (John 15), The Two Comforters (John 16).

He gives private counsel to Peter and others, offers up the Intercessory (High Priestly) Prayer, offering a prayer for “eternal life”, the strengthening of the Apostles, and a prayer for the saints.  Then we go out a short distance to a favorite and frequented garden spot, known as the Garden of Gethsemane.

In Gethsemane he takes on the sins and suffering of mankind. While there, He is arrested, taken to Annas, then on to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin.  He is mistreated by the guards while awaiting a morning trial.  The Sanhedrin condemns Him, binds Him & sends Him on to Pilate who shuffles Him off to Herod & then back to Pilate who tries to free Him, but the mob demands, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”  He is scourged, mocked, derided, and sentenced. 

In the midst of all these happenings, it is now Friday. By 9 am they are at Golgotha and what may be called His last mortal ministry begins – a ministry of seven last words or utterances.

(1) “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
(2) “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
(3) “Woman, behold thy son” & unto John, “Behold thy mother.”
(4) “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
(5) “I thirst”.
(6) “Father, it is finished, thy will is done.”
(7) “Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit.”

It is now 3 pm and Jesus has hung on the cross for six hours.  Amidst earthquake, profound darkness, and the renting of the temple veil, Jesus must be taken to a tomb before the Sabbath begins at sunset. 

BUT JESUS IS NO LONGER IN MORTALITY. So let us go where He has gone.

It is the Saturday of The Week of Atonement.  Peter records”…then it was that he who had now suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust, having been put to death in the flesh but continuing to live in the spirit, 1st Peter 3:18-20; 4:4-6 records, “… went and preached unto the spirits in prison… that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

Doctrine & Covenants 138 describes for us the event: 

  1. And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
  2. They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death….
  3. While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
  4. And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.

These doctrines and others did He preach in His ministry there.

It is now SUNDAY, OVER 2,000 YEARS AGO. This is RESURRECTION MORNING and Jesus Christ has initiated the ordinance of the resurrection.  By the power of God, He has burst the bands of death and His Spirit and Body are re-united in an immortal, eternal fashion. 

The week of the Atonement is now ended, but for us, now in our day, because of the Atonement we are able to begin anew and apply the Atonement in our lives as we sincerely repent and strive to follow God’s will. 

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