Living and Dying Holy Week

Living and Dying Holy Week

It’s called Holy Week! Eight days of drama from the entry into Jerusalem to an empty tomb.

On the day Jesus road a borrowed donkey into Jerusalem, it was also Holy Week; though there were a lot of unholy things going on back then. The crowds overfilled Jerusalem. Anybody and everybody wanted to be there that week. Those who thought a Passover without being in Jerusalem was no Passover at all paid any price to get there. Mom and pop and the kids piled into the old van and headed out. Most didn’t have reservations, couldn’t have paid for them if they had. Some came because not to be seen in Jerusalem on Passover might be bad for business. Some came to pick pockets and sell their bodies. Some came to see if those in charge stayed in charge and kept the festival pure. Holy Week found Jerusalem with too many people and too many animals and too much excitement and too much partying.

My, I do like Holy Week. I do like Holy Week and I will be part of it this week. From the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which was anything but triumphal, to the Last Supper, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the cross on Good Friday, and to the sight of an empty tomb on Sunday morn, I will be part of Holy Week. Holy Week offers us the opportunity to relive Jesus’ final week, to experience the drama day-by-day—hearing the cheers today, sharing the somber supper on Thursday, going with Jesus to Gethsemane later that night to pray for some escape, hearing before seeing the soldiers coming for Him, lurking in the shadows as he is tried, following from far back in the crowd as he is led to His crucifixion, sorrowing as a stranger takes his body and buries it, and finally hearing the amazing news: He is risen!

Most people, including most believers, will miss most of Holy Week. They will leap from waving palm branches to shouting, “He’s alive! He’s alive!”

There will be Holy Week services in our towns this week. Those of us who go will have to work at living the drama. Most preachers want to preach the Easter sermon; few seen willing to enter the pathos of the Last Supper and Good Friday. Even if they use the texts for the day, they just can’t leave us there—they refuse to let us feel something of what Jesus and the disciples felt as the week unfolded. I just want to shout to the preacher who leads the Maundy Thursday service, “Let me leave the Table baffled by what Jesus just did there. Let me follow him into Gethsemane and hear this Son of God plead with the Father for his life.” To the preacher of the Good Friday service I want to say, “Leave Jesus dead! Don’t raise him up before he’s three-days dead! Let me go home with a heavy heart mindful of His death and suspecting, if not knowing, I was to blame.” Then comes Easter . . . not before!

Holy Week is messy and crowded with all kinds of people. Both life and death are part of it, which is at it should be. Resurrection is not possible without death; and what is true for Holy Week is also true of our walk with Jesus. Shouting that we love Him doesn’t make us followers. Being a follower requires some dying.

Observe Holy Week. You just might get raised up.


Photo by FaithLab

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