The Depth of Holy Week

And now we find ourselves at the beginning of another Holy Week. There are many daily and weekly liturgical rhythms that allow us to remember the work of Christ, but at Holy Week we find new depth and meaning in the contemplation of the gospel.

On Palm Sunday we reenact the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to the shouts of praise from the crowds, to the waving of palm branches. A triumphal entry, you may recall from history class, was the big parade put on by ancient Roman generals after returning from victorious battles. They would enter Rome in magnificent chariots pulled by many horses and behind them would march the conquering soldiers displaying captured riches and slaves. The people would lay palm branches in the path, a symbol of victory. Our savior was greeted this way by a people who expected him to overthrow the Roman rule and become a king on earth. But this king rode in on a humble donkey, and instead of capturing slaves he had come to set them free.

On Monday Jesus went to the temple and found it full of unscrupulous money changers. He calmly braided himself a whip, then filled with righteous fury he overturned the tables of the money changers, saying “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).

Thursday of Holy Week we call Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum for “command,” which refers to the instructions Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus got on the floor and washed the feet of his disciples, as humbly as the lowliest servant, and he told them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

That night, Jesus prayed in agony to his Father while his friends slept. Despite his reluctance, for he knew the fate that awaited him, he obeyed the Father’s command. Then he was betrayed by Judas and arrested.

On Friday, Jesus sat with equanimity through a sham trial, through mockery and beatings and abandonment. He was spat on and whipped and abused. He was nailed to a cross, where he suffered from dehydration and asphyxiation. He committed his spirit into the Father’s hands and around 3 pm, he breathed his last.  At 6 pm, his followers took his body and buried it in a tomb. When the Sabbath ended at 6 pm on Saturday, his body was ceremonially treated with burial spices. It was over.

Until Sunday morning. On Sunday morning everything changed. On Sunday morning, the final blow in the battle against Satan, sin, and death was struck. On Sunday morning King Jesus made his true triumphal entry from death back to life, having defeated his enemy and accomplished his mission. On Sunday morning, the whole world changed. We are no longer believing forward for the coming fulfillment of God’s promises, we are living in a world in which the promise was fulfilled and we are set free.

Go into this Easter Sunday with the full knowledge of the gospel in your heart and in your mind. Meditate on what Christ has done for you. You were a slave and you have been set free. You were dead and you have been brought to life. Hallelujah! 

For a wonderful Easter liturgy that you can read together with your family or your community group, click here. It reads, in part: 

All sorrows we endure for now are but the

rattling gasp that signals death’s defeat.

O King of Kings, we offer our

eternal adoration!

Now let your resurrection at last

be worked through all the fabric of creation,

till every fiber, every atom, every particle in play,

is bathed in holy light,

consecrated forever as your own.

Till every sorrow we’ve sustained is redeemed,

restored, renamed; till ones we’ve loved and lost

and grieved are joined to us again;

till all the brokenness that breaks our world

is by your word made whole.

You have made all things well, O Lord of Life!

O King of Creation!

O Christ Who Conquered Death!

You have made all things well!

You are the radiant end toward which

all creation tends. In you dwells

the fullness of God, and through you

all things are reconciled to God.

You are the beginning, and the firstborn

from among the dead.

You are the firstborn over all creation.

You are the church’s living head.

In all things you are supreme.

All glory is your own eternal glory.

You are faithful and true.

You have kept your promises.

You have done what you said.

You have rescued your children

and your creation from the futility,

from the fear, and from the lingering

kingdom of death.

You have done what you said.

You have made all things well,

O King of Earth and Heaven!

You have made all things well!

O Christ who gives us life,

we give you praise!

Hear the word of the Lord:

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that

believeth in me, though he were dead,

yet shall he live.

—John 11:25

And now we find ourselves at the beginning of another Holy Week. There are many daily and weekly liturgical rhythms that allow us to remember the work of Christ, but at Holy Week we find new depth and meaning in the contemplation of the gospel.

On Palm Sunday we reenact the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to the shouts of praise from the crowds, to the waving of palm branches. A triumphal entry, you may recall from history class, was the big parade put on by ancient Roman generals after returning from victorious battles. They would enter Rome in magnificent chariots pulled by many horses and behind them would march the conquering soldiers displaying captured riches and slaves. The people would lay palm branches in the path, a symbol of victory. Our savior was greeted this way by a people who expected him to overthrow the Roman rule and become a king on earth. But this king rode in on a humble donkey, and instead of capturing slaves he had come to set them free.

On Monday Jesus went to the temple and found it full of unscrupulous money changers. He calmly braided himself a whip, then filled with righteous fury he overturned the tables of the money changers, saying “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).

Thursday of Holy Week we call Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum for “command,” which refers to the instructions Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus got on the floor and washed the feet of his disciples, as humbly as the lowliest servant, and he told them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

That night, Jesus prayed in agony to his Father while his friends slept. Despite his reluctance, for he knew the fate that awaited him, he obeyed the Father’s command. Then he was betrayed by Judas and arrested.

On Friday, Jesus sat with equanimity through a sham trial, through mockery and beatings and abandonment. He was spat on and whipped and abused. He was nailed to a cross, where he suffered from dehydration and asphyxiation. He committed his spirit into the Father’s hands and around 3 pm, he breathed his last.  At 6 pm, his followers took his body and buried it in a tomb. When the Sabbath ended at 6 pm on Saturday, his body was ceremonially treated with burial spices. It was over.

Until Sunday morning. On Sunday morning everything changed. On Sunday morning, the final blow in the battle against Satan, sin, and death was struck. On Sunday morning King Jesus made his true triumphal entry from death back to life, having defeated his enemy and accomplished his mission. On Sunday morning, the whole world changed. We are no longer believing forward for the coming fulfillment of God’s promises, we are living in a world in which the promise was fulfilled and we are set free.

Go into this Easter Sunday with the full knowledge of the gospel in your heart and in your mind. Meditate on what Christ has done for you. You were a slave and you have been set free. You were dead and you have been brought to life. Hallelujah! 

For a wonderful Easter liturgy that you can read together with your family or your community group, click here. It reads, in part: 

All sorrows we endure for now are but the

rattling gasp that signals death’s defeat.

O King of Kings, we offer our

eternal adoration!

Now let your resurrection at last

be worked through all the fabric of creation,

till every fiber, every atom, every particle in play,

is bathed in holy light,

consecrated forever as your own.

Till every sorrow we’ve sustained is redeemed,

restored, renamed; till ones we’ve loved and lost

and grieved are joined to us again;

till all the brokenness that breaks our world

is by your word made whole.

You have made all things well, O Lord of Life!

O King of Creation!

O Christ Who Conquered Death!

You have made all things well!

You are the radiant end toward which

all creation tends. In you dwells

the fullness of God, and through you

all things are reconciled to God.

You are the beginning, and the firstborn

from among the dead.

You are the firstborn over all creation.

You are the church’s living head.

In all things you are supreme.

All glory is your own eternal glory.

You are faithful and true.

You have kept your promises.

You have done what you said.

You have rescued your children

and your creation from the futility,

from the fear, and from the lingering

kingdom of death.

You have done what you said.

You have made all things well,

O King of Earth and Heaven!

You have made all things well!

O Christ who gives us life,

we give you praise!

Hear the word of the Lord:

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that

believeth in me, though he were dead,

yet shall he live.

—John 11:25

Written By: Jess Glass

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