The Importance of Holy Week

March 30, 2021

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” (John 12:23)

Approximately half the chapters in the Gospel of John record the first thirty-three years of the life of Jesus and the other half record the last week of His life. The solemn words quoted above announce that His time had come. This is where the Apostle John divides his writings and begins to tell us about the last week of Jesus’ life.

If you add the number of chapters in all four of the Gospels you come up with the eighty-nine. Four of those chapters cover the birth and the first thirty years Jesus lived on earth.  Eighty-five cover the three years of His public ministry and twenty-eight cover that last week of His life. This means His last week is seven times more important than His birth and the first thirty years He lived according to those who wrote the Gospels.

The authors of the Gospels tell us by the way they have prioritized the last week in the life of Jesus that what we call “Holy Week” is the most important week in His life.  Why? During that week that Jesus suffered, died, and was raised from the dead for our salvation. Traditionally we make much ado over Christmas, but the four Gospel writers make much of Easter. As committed followers of Christ should not this week that was so important to Jesus be the most important week of our Church year?

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”  (John 13:1)

Dick Woodward, 31 March 2010


#LOVE: A New Commandment

April 7, 2020

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”  (John 13:1)

Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His apostles. Luke writes that on the way to the upper room the apostles argued about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom Jesus promised.

What a shock it must have been when Jesus assumed the attire of a slave and washed their feet!

Having washed their feet Jesus asked them the question “Do you know what I have done to you?” His question is answered in the words quoted above. The most dynamic characteristic of Jesus is love. He had loved these men for three years in ways they had never been loved before in their entire lives.

Jesus also answered His question by telling them that He had given them an example. If He as their Lord and Teacher had washed their feet, they should wash each other’s feet. Then He made the connection between foot washing and love by giving them a New Commandment: they were to love one another in the same ways He loved them. This is the absolute credential that they are His disciples.

A New Commandment directed them to a New Commitment. Each of them had made a commitment to Jesus, but now they were to make a commitment to each other. This new commitment established a New Community. We call it the church.

Secular people said of the early church, “Behold how they love one another!” If they made that charge today about our churches, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

Oh Lord, make it so!

Dick Woodward, 05 April 2012


Holy Week: The Absolute Eternal Value

April 16, 2019

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Have you discovered that, to the authors of the four Gospels, Easter is far more important than Christmas? Of the 89 combined Gospel chapters, 4 chapters cover the birth and first 30 years Jesus lived, while 27 chapters cover the last week He lived.

Why is the last week Jesus lived so important?

The obvious answer is during that week Jesus died and was raised from the dead. Have you ever wondered why the apostles changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (seventh) Day to the first day of the week? If you read carefully, they never call Sunday the “Sabbath.” They call it “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Every Sunday the Church gathers for worship is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because on the first day of the week Jesus demonstrated the absolute eternal value.

This is the greatest and most important eternal value: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our salvation. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross, God laid on His only beloved Son all the chastisement we rebellious human beings deserve for our sins. In this way, God exercised His perfect justice while also expressing His perfect love.

The beloved Apostle John points to the cross and says: “Here is love. Not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)

Isaiah showed us how to confess this eternal value when he wrote: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

…Do you believe you are included in the first and last ‘all’ of this verse?

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values


Holy Week: The Best Deal Ever Offered

March 27, 2018

“God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

So what is the biggest week in the Church year all about? What does it mean to you and me personally?

The Apostle Paul put it in a nutshell: it is the best deal ever offered.

Because of what happened on Good Friday God has offered to put all of our wrongs on Jesus, and in exchange put all that is right with Jesus on you and me. That’s the best offer we will ever have. All we have to do to close on the offer is believe it!

In 1949 while I was doing social work in Pittsburgh, late one night a man asked if he could speak with me. As we talked in the darkness outside a closed recreation center he told me he was wounded in the great Battle of the Bulge toward the end of World War II. While still under fire he saw a chaplain crawling from one wounded man to the next.  This chaplain apparently had something very important he said to those men.  He hoped the chaplain would make it to him, but after taking several hits the chaplain didn’t move anymore.

He said he had been wondering for several years what the chaplain had to say to those men. He said after watching me for a couple of months he told his wife he believed I could tell him what that chaplain was telling those wounded men. I told him about the greatest deal ever offered.

This Easter do you have a message for dying people? Do you have a message for people who are going to live?

Dick Woodward, 26 March 2013


What’s the “Good” in Good Friday?

April 3, 2015

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

If you want to know what is good about Good Friday this verse in Isaiah 53 will tell you.  This verse describes with great clarity the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross when it begins and ends with the same word: “all.”  The verse begins with what we might call “the bad news.”  Isaiah tells us that all of us are like little sheep and have gone astray.  We have turned, every single one of us, to our own way.  If you want to know the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, agree that you yourself are included in that first all.

The all with which this verse concludes is what we might call “the good news.” Isaiah ends this verse by telling us that the penalty for all the things we have done after turning to our own way has been laid on Him (meaning Jesus).  I don’t know about you, but for me that is very, very good news!  If you and I will confess that we are included in the first and the last all in this great Gospel verse then we know what we need to know and we have done all we need to do to turn our bad news into good news.  And we know what is good about Good Friday.

If you want to make this Friday of Holy Week a Good Friday, believe what Isaiah has written.

Dick Woodward, 02 April 2010


Absolute Eternal Value of Easter

March 31, 2015

“Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures… and on the third day, He was raised to life..”  (I Corinthians 15:3-4)

Have you discovered that, to the authors of the four Gospels, Easter is far more important than Christmas? Of the 89 combined Gospel chapters, 4 chapters cover the birth and first 30 years Jesus lived, while 27 chapters cover the last week He lived. Why is the last week Jesus lived so very important?

The obvious answer is during that one week Jesus died and was raised from the dead for our salvation. In I Corinthians 15, after clearly stating that the Gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul focuses like a laser beam on the second Gospel fact – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In 58 inspired verses, Paul shows us in a practical way what the resurrection of Jesus should mean to you and me.

Have you ever wondered why the apostles, who were all Jews, changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (seventh) Day to the first day of the week? If you read carefully, they never called Sunday the “Sabbath.”  They called it “The Lord’s Day” because that was the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Every Sunday the Church gathers for worship is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because on the first day of the week Jesus demonstrated the absolute eternal value.

This is the greatest and most important eternal value: Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for our salvation. The Good News is that when Jesus died on the cross, God laid on His only beloved Son all the chastisement we rebellious human beings rightly deserved for our sins. In this way, God exercised His perfect justice while also expressing His perfect love.  The beloved Apostle John points to the cross and says, “Here is love. Not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)

Isaiah showed us how to confess this eternal value – that Jesus died for our sins – when he wrote: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

…Do you believe you are included in the first and last ‘all’ of this verse?

Dick Woodward, In Step with Eternal Values