Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Luke 24:6-7
On Sunday we begin Holy Week; it is the culmination of our Lenten season, which is a time to get back to the basics and origins of our faith. In Holy Week we set aside the time to breathe in the whole story of the suffering death and resurrection of Jesus. We take the time as a whole community to remember the story in its entirety together with Christians of all groups and denominations around the world. We tell each other the story of life and salvation centered in the saving acts of Jesus. What I am asking you to consider this Easter is to try to take in the whole story. For each part of what we remember this week is vital to your relationship with the living Christ.
The story begins with Palm Sunday, it sends a clear message that Jesus is worthy of our praise on the one side, and that our praise will never be sufficient on the other. We learn that sometimes our expectations of what we think God should be doing can get in the way of perceiving of what he is actually doing. The people who spread their cloaks and palms expected a new political leader to come along and fix the worldly system to their liking. When it becomes clear that that is not what Jesus is all about, they all turn on him.
As we come to Thursday we see that there is a limit to all people's faithfulness. The disciples can not stay awake in the garden, Judas betrays, Peter denies, the rest run away (one even losing his clothes according to Mark). This tells us that our fallible human faith does not have the power to save, but that God's grace alone offers us the only chance at true salvation. Without God's power to carry us through we can never be strong enough to make it. We understand that God responds to human weakness by sending his grace.
Jesus sends this exact signal on the night he is betrayed as he leaves us with the gift of his supper, the example of his washing the disciples feet, and the commandment that we love as he has loved. It is also the night that he promises the gathered of the coming of the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith with the love and comfort of God so that we can make it through all the adversity that life can at times bring. We come to see that even in the darkest hour God can bring grace to bear on behalf of all his children even when they not proved worthy of it.
Friday seems as if it is the darkest day. Humanity rejects the one sent to save it. Jesus is mocked and nailed to the cross so we humans can maintain the illusion of our own power. The Romans want to show everyone who is boss to quash any future rebellion against their tyranny. The religious establishment will bear no challenges to its prestige in society. The angry mob wants another freak show so it can laugh, mock and degrade to fill its lust for entertainment. So Jesus must go, no matter that he is innocent. If this is all there was, it would be a dark day indeed, but at this precise moment we learn that God loves us so much that he is willing to enter into humanity completely, even at its darkest and most vulnerable. He yells a quote from Psalm 22 " My God! Why have you forsaken me". The temple curtain is torn in two and the gap between man and God is bridges fully in the person of Jesus. So this day is good. We learn we can become a new creation in Christ and move through death into life.
Sunday is the Lord's day. The new creation is complete. The victory over sin, death and the devil is accomplished. Jesus is risen! We are given the hope of life with God for eternity. The story is at times too wonderful for those hurt by the world to dare to believe. So Jesus' resurrection takes a little time before it sinks in the hearts and minds of the disciples. It is why the angel says the quote at the top of this page. It is also why Jesus takes the time to tell the whole story to the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. The disciples then recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. They speak also about how speak about how their hearts were burning as Jesus was bringing them the whole story of what was going on through God’s gift of the scriptures.
In order to give your life completely to Christ you must also try to grasp the whole story. Sunday has meaning because what happened the previous Friday. Friday was necessary because of what went on earlier in the last week of Jesus' life. This is indeed the greatest story ever told, so don't settle for only a part of it. Each aspect of the story of Jesus touches a different aspect of your life of faith, and we can grow in that faith when we take the time to concentrate on the different aspects and implications of the various parts of the story of Jesus' passion and resurrection. It is not a collection of stories woven together, but the one true story begotten by the grace of God. I pray that you find peace this season by taking it in and working through it.
May you all have a happy and blessed Holy Week and Easter
Keep the Faith