With everything going on around us, and with the shift to church online, I have to admit that Easter kind of snuck up on me this year. Everything seems just a little out of rhythm. I lose track of the days!
Maybe life feels out of sync for you too.
I think this is a great time to dial back in for this week–Holy Week. Holy Week is the amazing stretch of days in the Gospels from Palm Sunday (the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem in order to celebrate Passover one last time with His disciples) until His betrayal, crucifixion and death on the cross, to His Resurrection from the dead on Sunday.
Wait-did you notice that? Holy Week was filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for Jesus. (Ever had a roller coaster week like that?) On the day we refer to as Palm Sunday, He came into Jerusalem heralded as the Great Prophet, the Son of David, the King (depending on which Gospel you read). The crowd was singing His praises on Palm Sunday.
But by Thursday night, everything had changed. Maybe that is the way things have felt for you in the past few weeks.
Jesus did a lot of things between Sunday and Thursday. He cleansed the Temple, He challenged the religious leaders, He told parable after parable after parable–trying to get people to wake up to what He was REALLY doing. He had not come into Jerusalem to set up a Kingdom the way that people were expecting him to–establishing His disciples or the religious leaders in their power-brokered positions they had secured.
He had come to make the Kingdom of God available to everyone–the poor, the sick, the lepers, the widows, the orphans, the children every outcast, those who were laden with guilt and anxiety–and even to the hard hearted religious leaders.
Jesus’ whole purpose was to bring relationship with God to everyone whose heart was open.
But by Thursday night, the city had turned on Him. He had toppled their preconceived notions of how life was going to work. He had ignored their cry for an earthly king to rescue them from Roman rule and oppression. One of the disciples, whom He had poured His life into, had already set up His betrayal.
The rest of the eleven disciples could not fathom what was happening right in front of them. They went out into the Garden with Him and ignored His plea to pray with Him–and instead they napped. They missed their moment.
Then the mob showed up–and Jesus was arrested–and the disciples’ dreams started to crumble. Jesus was led away in chains–and they were left in the dark.
The religious leaders, whose authority Jesus had challenged for His whole ministry, now appeared to have the upper hand. They intimidated a weak leader, who KNEW Jesus was innocent, and demanded that he order His Crucifixion. Pilate, overwhelmed by the opinion of the crowd around him and as a last ditch effort to “save” Jesus, offered Barrabas, a criminal instead. The crowd, spurred on by the jealousy of the religious leaders, agreed to let Barrabas, the guilty one, be set free instead of the Innocent One.
It was a dark time.
Dreams died. Plans were disrupted. Futures were uncertain. Life seemed chaotic. Fear was a companion in the dark. Who was REALLY in control?
Ever asked those questions? Ever wondered who’s REALLY in control?
Perhaps the only one who knew what God was up to each day of Holy Week was Jesus. He knew the depth of love God had for the very ones who plotted His death. He knew the depth of love God had for the crowd that had turned against Him. He knew the depth of love God had for the ones who denied Him. He knew the depth of love God had for the ones who mocked and beat Him. He knew the depth of love God had for the criminal hanging next to Him. He knew the depth of love God had for Barrabas, the guilty one who was set free instead of Him. And He knew the depth of God’s love for you and me–and it compelled Him to allow the deepest darkness to overcome Him.
And, when the Innocent One hung on the cross in our place, Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” He knew how broken and blind we were! And yet the Innocent One gave Himself up for us, the guilty.
And as He took His last breath and faced the greatest horror–separation from God’s Presence that HE did not deserve–He prayed in the greatest faith ever known: “Father, into Your hands, I commit my spirit.”
As you walk through Holy Week with us, I am asking you to trust the One Whom Jesus trusted. Jesus trusted His Father with His Life! Will you trust Him with your broken dreams, shattered hopes, sick bodies, chaotic moments, fear-filled nights, your guilt or anxiety? Will you trust these days to the One Who was able to raise Jesus from death? Will you trust Jesus with your life?
Sunday is coming. God is in control! His Light will overcome your darkness! Say Yes to Jesus!