Don’t let the noise distract you this week. The news is filled with disturbing stories: a pilot who murders by crashing a plane, angry protestors outside government buildings, and tensions around the world. For Christians, this is not a week to become distracted by the world around us. Yes, we need to be aware of what is happening. But, something much more important needs your attention. This week, we especially remember the events surrounding Jesus’ last days on earth, his death, and our salvation.
Last Sunday, we remembered Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He was greeted as a king, with loud “Hosanna’s” being shouted as the people anticipated a war and a coming freedom from their Roman conquerors. But a different kind of king had arrived. By the end of the week it was clear that Jesus was not a conquering hero—at least not in the sense the Palm Sunday crowds expected.
On Thursday, we gather around our altars to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, as we receive Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Maundy Thursday is the day set aside to remember the last Passover meal under the Old Covenant and its fulfillment in Christ, our Passover Lamb. It’s the night Jesus gave us His last will and testament, giving Himself to us in His Supper. Much happened between Sunday and Thursday. Hint: read our daily devotions this week.
On Friday, we gather to hear again of the unjust trial Jesus received, of His abuse, suffering, and ultimate death and burial. We don’t observe Good Friday just to hear about those things. We need to know why. Why did all this happen to the sinless Son of God? It is because of you. And because of me. We want to blame the Jewish leaders, or the Roman governor. But it’s also your fault. And mine. He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6) Jesus suffered and died to pay the price God demands for sin. Jesus paid the price for you. And for me.
On Saturday, many will gather for an “Easter Vigil” service. Others will be in a somber mood, reflecting on what Jesus endured for us, perhaps remembering how frightened the first disciples must have been after watching their teacher die on the cross. And still others will be joyful, knowing that the cross was not the end of the story, but the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation. There is an eager expectation of Sunday morning.
Easter Sunday will bring the joyful celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead, showing that God has accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. When Jesus appears to Mary and His disciples, we share their joy. We know that, just as Jesus rose bodily from His grave, our own bodies will also rise from their graves, resurrected to eternal life.
What an amazing week! God wants us to again remember the peace won for us on the cross, of sins forgiven, and the Easter joy of knowing that death has no power over us!
Don’t be distracted. All the problems of this world will still be here next week. This week, fix your eyes on the cross and empty tomb.
-Rev. Paul Fries