By: Dennis Bates
We Christians live in the middle of Holy Week and too often we look through it.
Last Sunday we celebrated. We waved palm branches and sang or shouted hosanna to remember the triumphant entry Jesus made into Jerusalem. If your church is like mine, you may have had the children recreate that entry by marching in at the beginning of the service waving actual palm branches. The children love doing it in our service and the adults love watching it as they remember when they were one of the happy children waving the branches.
This next Sunday is Easter. We will celebrate again, this time the joy of the resurrection that gives us all hope and the promise of eternal life. The early Christians greeted each other in a special way on Easter. One person would say, “He is risen,” and the other would respond, “He is risen indeed!” My church carries on this early tradition.
Both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are happy, joyous occasions, even if it’s for completely different reasons. But as our Pastor pointed out last week, the two Sundays are like book ends to the events of Holy Week in the middle and that’s where we actually live most of the time. To be sure, we participate in the joy and lay claim to the promise. If we believe, we are forgiven and we are joint heirs with Christ inheriting all that he has.
However, even Jesus and His disciples lived through Holy Week, and, in a very real way lived in the middle of it. Peter denied Him, Judas betrayed Him, Pilate condemned Him and the women wept for Him as they buried Him. Holy Week, although necessary, was not a good week for the followers of Jesus.
Holy Week was a long week, a frightening week, a dark week. There were no championship basketball games, golf tournaments, gala parties with lots of laughter and rich food. The followers of Jesus hid while He was tried, beaten and ultimately murdered in one of the most vile and painful deaths any culture has ever invented.
That’s where we live, amidst all that. That is Holy Week, and too often we forget what it involved, skipping right from the triumphal entry to the glory of the resurrection. It didn’t happen that way, and neither do our lives. We have to live through Holy Week to get to the resurrection, and only after we do, are we ready to realize the incredible gift of grace we have been given.
How can we appreciate the depth of His sacrifice if we close our eyes and our hearts to the depth of the pain He suffered while giving it. To us. The people of Holy Week. The heirs to the joy and certainty of the resurrection of Easter who live in the middle of Holy Week, but not forever.
HE IS RISEN!