Prayers for Passion Week: Pray for Understanding

Some years ago, I did a series on my blog called "Prayers for Passion Week" to document the days leading up to Jesus' death on a cross and ressurection. Each day gives an account of one of Jesus' actions and how we can pray about the things that he encountered or did.

Pray for Understanding:

John 12:12-16

I’m really into suspense movies… like the ones that have a twist so big that you have to rewind them and watch them again after they go off. I remember the first time I watched my favorite movie, ‘The Prestige’. Same feeling. The acting and the story line was great but the big finish at the end of the movie glued all of the minor details that I hadn’t really paid attention to before, into a collage of enlightenment. There is just something about the apex of a story that makes everything else make sense. Coincidentally, that is why before I met Christ, I had a hard time understanding the Bible. Not because I didn’t know the climax … but because I didn’t understand the details.

See, many of us breeze past the details to race to the cross, not acknowledging the fact that it was the road to the cross that makes the story sweet. And I’m not just talking about from Palm Sunday to the resurrection… or even Jesus’ baptism to the end of his earthly ministry. I’m talking about from the first five words “In the beginning, God created…” and every other small detail listed through the scriptures that points to the craziest weekend in human history. As hundreds of people raced to be in Jesus presence, waving the branches of palm trees and praising as he entered Jerusalem (John 12:12-13) the people closest to Jesus had no clue why it was happening. I don’t even know if the people who were waving palms knew what was happening … but in that moment they celebrated a victory that would eclipse the one they wanted. Waving of palms was traditionally done for military victors or political saviors like they wanted Jesus to be. Little did they know that Jesus was taking in their celebration even if it was misunderstood.

John includes a great nugget for us in verse 16 though … “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. (John 12:16 ESV)” He admits that they had a blindspot. They missed it when it first happened. Even though they would have known the scriptures that attested to the day we call Palm Sunday … they had missed it in the moment. But after Jesus had been glorified, they could clearly see why the donkey was there … or why people screamed Hosanna or why Jesus quoted Zech. 9:9. When searching for assurance that Jesus is Lord and Savior, we can be eager to try and understand the apex without embracing the details.

REWIND. And watch it over and over again.

Every single time I watch the Prestige, i see more and more details that tie into the big pop that I missed on the first 50 times I watched it. In that same way, every time I read through Isaiah, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Genesis or even some of the New Testament, the Lord gives me an even greater understanding of his week in Jerusalem, his 33 years, his plan for salvation and his sovereign grace. Rewinding is a process of reflecting on the details of what God has done for you. That can be done with faithful reading of the Bible (pray that God give you understanding of the text), journaling (revealing and reviewing the details of your life), conversations with other Christians about your walk, and repentance (Confessing where you missed the mark and reminding yourself of the gospel).

And if you haven't believed in Jesus and what he has done for us; bridging the gap that our sin has created between us and God by living without sin and dying on a cross as a completely innocent person. Only to be raised to life and reign as our Savior and Lord, giving us a chance at new life. Then I would encourage you to take a look at the details that we have. The Scriptures testifying to this account have been around for thousands of years for a reason. Visit a church this Sunday, speak to a member or a pastor. Check it out before you write it off. The big picture has some intricate details that make it even more beautiful.

So the first prayer in this week is a prayer for understanding. We can be in Christ’s presence, following Christ and working for Christ yet forget how every detail points to him being glorified. Pray that God may give you continued understanding of the gospel, in all times and seasons of your life and the he’d give you understanding of His will for you in them. 

Father, treat us like the men on that you revealed yourself to on the road to Emmaus. Open our eyes to the things that we have not seen and remind us through your Spirit of the things that already have been done. Give us understanding where we ignorance has clouded our hearts and minds. In Jesus’ name.
Byron L. Cogdell