This is Holy Week: arguably the most significant week in the life of the Christian Church. We end the Lenten season this week, following Jesus as he moves steadily and willingly toward the cross. Luke 9:51 It begins on the day we designate as Palm Sunday with the adoration and exultation of the crowds for Jesus as he came into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey. After briefly visiting the temple (it was late in the day), he returns to Bethany for the night (about a 3 km. walk), staying with his dear friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. On Monday morning, we read he again goes to Jerusalem, this time to clear the temple of those who were selling and buying there, as well as the money-changers. On Tuesday and Wednesday Jesus continues with this pattern–teaching and healing in the temple in Jerusalem during the day, and spending the nights in the home of Lazarus and his sisters.
Then comes Thursday–the day of the Passover Meal. Jesus travels to Jerusalem for the last time, celebrating with his disciples the events which foreshadow his own death. This is when Jesus tells his disciples that his body would be broken, and his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins–a new covenant with God, written in his own blood. During this intimate time with his disciples, Jesus, instructs them with a serving lesson they never forget: the washing of their feet by his own hands. From the Passover celebration, they proceed into the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus wrestles in prayer like no one before or since, to the point of sweating drops of blood.
And finally, Friday. The day of betrayal, torture and death. A day which has caused me great personal anguish from my earliest memories. My mother told me that from a very young age, I would weep inconsolably at the depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus. As a young wife and mother, I attended my first Women Alive Conference in Calgary where Kay Arthur was the keynote speaker. As she vividly portrayed the whip which was used on Jesus, there was not a dry eye in the stadium. She talked about how that whip, in the hands of an inexperienced soldier, would not just rip flesh from bone, but would literally disembowel a person. We sat absolutely stunned at the pain, torture, suffering which Jesus endured. (…his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind Isaiah 52:14)
A few years ago, the movie The Passion of the Christ came out. Foolish me! I went to see it in the theatres. I could not control my tears, nor my stifled sobs. Nothing has changed through the years–I am smitten with remorse at the thought that I was the reason Jesus endured such agony. It was for my sins that he took all this upon himself. His arrest, beatings and crucifixion were beyond my wildest imaginings… but Jesus saw you and me, needing a Saviour, and he was wounded for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:4 – 7). He went to the cross, extending the free gift of grace, of eternal life, to the lost of the world–to you and me–to everyone who would believe.
Why is it important to walk this path each year, recounting the events of Holy Week? For me, it is vital that I never take my salvation for granted. Jesus paid the greatest price possible to ensure my eternal destiny. He overcame the power of death, sin, and the devil. It is important to remember, to repent and to rejoice in my Redeemer and his great love for me.
It is also important to walk this path each year to be reminded that Jesus paid the greatest price possible to ensure the eternal destinies of every person–those I know and those I don’t know. And that motivates me to share my faith in every way possible–so that they come to know their Redeemer and his great love for them.
Happily, we do not need to stay in the grief and sorrow of Good Friday. This is not where the sacrifice of Jesus ends–there is more to the story! No–it might be Friday, but Sunday’s coming! Yes–it’s only Friday, but praise God! Sunday is a’comin!!!
I invite you to go to the following link, and view this short, but powerful video… (3 mins. 41 sec)
And then, as we walk through this Holy Week, remembering Christ’s journey and contemplating the cross, let’s remember and praise God that: “It’s only Friday. Sunday’s comin’!”
Prayer: Lord, grant us eyes to see and ears to hear what you lived and experienced during the last week of your life. Give us hearts that respond, hands that serve, feet that go, so that the gift of eternal life you offer is given through every opportunity you present in our lives. Enable us to hold Friday in our hearts, while experiencing the overwhelming joy of Sunday, and to extend that to our friends, and to our world. Thank you, Jesus, that even when it’s Friday, we know Sunday is coming! Amen.
Contributed by Joanne Giesbrecht