When the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God. (The Message)
The Christian Holy Week is an opportunity to embrace the value and practice of journeying with Jesus. Just as birthday and anniversary celebrations allows us a different rhythm of life for a time, or as holidays provide us with certain family traditions, so Holy Week can be a special and unique time of contemplation and reflection on the last week of Christ’s earthly life. As we journey with Jesus, consider the days of this week:
Palm Sunday is a focus on the entry of Christ into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Monday of Holy Week looks ahead to Christ’s sacrifice with Mary’s anticipatory grief through a heartfelt and beautiful anointing of Jesus’ feet with her hair and her tears.
Tuesday of Holy Week depicts the difficulty of the disciples in wrapping their hearts and minds around what Jesus is telling them about his impending death.
Wednesday of Holy Week is known in some Christian traditions as “Spy Wednesday” because we remember that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, a clandestine spy among the disciples.
Maundy Thursday marks three significant events in Christ’s last week: his washing of the disciples’ feet; his institution of the Lord’s Supper; and, his new commandment to love one another.
Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ. It is “good” because his death means redemption for the world. We especially remember why the cross is so very important, that it is the once-for-all sacrifice to end all sacrifices. There is now eternal forgiveness.
Holy Saturday remembers the death of Jesus and his body in the grave with the Romans securing and keeping guard over it.
Easter Sunday is the culmination of all the expectations of God’s people, and the fulfillment of all God’s promises to them in Christ. We rejoice, celebrate, and renew our love and commitment to God for raising Jesus from death. His resurrection means new life for us. He is risen, indeed!
Observing Holy Week is rather different this year. Whereas this week typically takes the form of attending special church services, we are presently reliant on virtual community and spiritual presence. It seems to me that, more than ever, we are reminded of our wonderful privilege in a worldwide community of redeemed persons who together are focusing on the life and death of Jesus. If ever there was a time to realize our incredible connection with believers across the earth in contemplation and celebration together as Christ’s own Church, now is such a time.
Together with Christ’s Church throughout the globe we have opportunity to read treasured Christian Scriptures over the course of the week and to focus on the passion narratives in the Gospels. For the follower of Jesus Christ, these are the fundamentals of our faith, the base upon which our eternal lives are constructed. We return to the redemptive events of Jesus again and again so that for the entirety of the year we can live in careful devotion to the Savior who has brought us salvation from sin and offers new life.
Holy Week is here. So, we choose to remember and give thanks with both quiet gratitude and loud shouts of praise, with solemn reflection and expressive response. There is no time like it in the year.
Grant to us, Almighty God, that in our weakness we might be revived and renewed through the Passion of your one and only Son Jesus, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.