From Halleluiahs To Sorrow, Then Elation
Yesterday as I sat in church I could not help but think of all of the events of Holy Week. This Sunday’s focus was on the triumphal entry into Jerusalem which is included in all four gospels in the Bible. Thanks to an amplified version of the New International Version of the Bible I can go through all the events of the week for you.
On Monday, Jesus cursed the fig tree and it withered – this is mentioned in Matthew and Mark. Also on Monday, Jesus cleared the temple tipping over the tables of all who were buying and selling, driving them all out. His famous words were, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” (Mt. 21: 13)
The authority of Jesus came into question on Tuesday. He was teaching in the temple, but began to draw criticism. Also on Tuesday, he visited his friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary. The gospel of John tells the whole story of the anointing at Bethany that took place six days before the Passover. Mary poured precious oil over Jesus anointing him. Judas Iscariot objected saying, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” (Jn.12: 5)
Wednesday is the day that the plot to betray Jesus was put together. Judas Iscariot approached the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus to them for 30 pieces of silver. (Mt. 26: 14 – 15)
Thursday was the Last Supper. Although the pictures of the Last Supper show Jesus and the disciples sitting at a table, they were most likely reclining at a low table (Mt. 26: 20) which was the custom of the day. It was here that Jesus offered the first communion. Even Judas Iscariot was present to commune with Jesus and the disciples.
Later Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times that evening before the cock crowed. Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus, being of human flesh, prayed for the cup to be removed if that was possible. He knew that he was sent to save sinners, but remember he was just like you and me. He wanted to escape the painful procedure if that was possible.
While Jesus prayed the disciples who accompanied him fell asleep. Jesus said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise let us go! Here comes the betrayer.” (Mt. 26: 45-46)
The trial was a swift one. Jesus was sentenced to die on the cross on Friday. He was so weak after he had been scourged that he was unable to carry his own cross. They spit on Jesus and mocked him. They cast lots for the few possessions that he had.
When he died his legs were not broken as those of the thieves were. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. A huge stone was rolled to cover the tomb’s entrance. A guard was placed nearby to guard it.
In spite of everything a resurrected Jesus appeared to his friends on Sunday morning. It is the resurrection that is the key to Christianity.
Never was this scenario more vivid to me than when I saw the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” I saw that the movie was on television last night, but I made a conscious decision not to watch it. The first time I watched it was in the theater and there was not a dry eye in the house. Everything was done with such dramatic images. I knew that I could not sit through it again all by myself.
I remember that the betrayal scene was so graphic. Just think our Lord and Savior was betrayed with a kiss, something we think of as denoting love and respect. Peter did end up denying Jesus three times. When he heard the cock crow, he was beside himself. Of course, we know that eventually Judas Iscariot tried to return the money but when the powers that be rejected his plan to return the money he ended up committing suicide.
Everything is so dark and gloomy on Good Friday. The Christian, however, knows that all is not lost. He knows that the resurrection is part of this story. It is through the resurrection that we as Christians are saved by grace. The only way to heaven is through Jesus. We cannot earn our way to heaven. It is a gift paid for with an enormous price.
I could not let Easter pass without expressing my faith. I serve a risen Savior and that has made all the difference. I included scriptural references so that you could look things up if you choose to. The Easter story is there for you to read – the whole thing. If you ever get a chance to see that movie I mentioned I highly recommend it. It was well worth the time and the money. Although graphic in spots, it reminded me of just what Jesus went through during Holy Week. It was a study in humility for those of us who call ourselves Christians.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.