Thursday, March 26, 2015

Holy Week Explained

Palm Sunday. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem wasn’t much to write home about. If you had been there, you wouldn’t have been too impressed—somebody from nowhere riding on a donkey into a city. No television stations or bands were present. But for Jesus, it was his moment of triumph. People waved palm branches. Palm branches were given to Olympic Champions. A symbol of victory. The people also hailed Jesus: “Hosanna in the highest.” Hosanna means to save or rescue.

The songs and the symbolism on Palm Sunday are as powerful as it gets. The songs are about being rescued: from ourselves, from hurts, from addictions, from death itself. The children wave palm branches to celebrate the victory we claim through Jesus. Victory over our brokenness, victory over sin, victory over our fears, victory over death.

Maundy Thursday. Maundy is from the Latin mandatum, the first word of Jesus’ teaching from John 13:34 - "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus was sharing his last meal with the twelve men who would be responsible for taking the Gospel to the nations. No time for small talk. Not even time for good stuff. Only his best words. “I’m going to make this simple. You need to remember this: Love others as I have loved you.”

Good Friday. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. What He really gave us, of course, was Himself. He experienced pain, humiliation, and death so we can experience love, forgiveness, and life. The world hasn't been the same since and your world doesn't have to be the same ever again. No single word or collection of words could ever describe this day. So "good" will have to do.

Saturday. The other days have a name: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday. Saturday is just Saturday which is more than enough. It was a day of darkness when Satan celebrated victory over God and dominion over the world. In the epic game of chess against the Almighty One Himself - Satan delivered a surprising, come-from-behind checkmate. He gets a surprise tomorrow: the King still has another move.

Easter Sunday. The bunny and the eggs and the pastel clothes – they neither add nor subtract much because there is nothing that can really be added or subtracted. Easter begins in the despair of the dark caused by the sin of the world and the hatred of many. Fear was widespread. Satan delighted in Christ's death. But it's Easter morning and Satan's party comes to an abrupt ending when he discovers the once defeated man has emerged from the tomb. Christ is alive. It was the day death died. Checkmate. Hope overcomes despair. Light silences darkness. Grace forgives sin. Love replaces hate. Faith calms fears. Life resurrects death.

The best is yet to come…


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