Christians are familiar with the challenges of Holy Week. Before saying, “Christ Has Risen,” we need to be present in his life in Jerusalem.
Jesus had faithful disciples and followers, but he also faced political and religious leaders who scorned him because they feared his power. Sadly, they used one of his disciples to condemn him. He also faced the denial of Peter. In the midst of these events, Jesus made a promise to his disciples in John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
On Monday, Jesus went to the Temple and condemned the money-making practices of the priests as recorded in Matthew 21:13, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” He incurred the wrath of the priests who would turn against him. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives on Tuesday and delivered the Olivet Discourse. In the meantime, many people were plotting against him as recorded in Matthew 26:3-4. “The chief priests and the elders plotted to arrest Jesus for blasphemy and kill Him.”
I have discussed the events of Maundy Thursday when Christ instituted the Eucharist by declaring that the bread and wine to be his broken body and his shed blood. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and told them to be humble, kind and helpful and spread his message of love by word and deed. Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane for a long night of prayer. He prayed three times before saying, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” The prayer is recorded in Matthew 26:42, and it offers sound advice.
On Good Friday, Judas betrayed Jesus with the kiss on the cheek. Jesus was taken to the High Court. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, offered to release Jesus; but an angry group called for his crucifixion, and Pilate agreed. Christians lament His cruel treatment and death. He was nailed to the cross and died after much suffering as a man. He was taken from the cross and buried in a tomb.
On Holy Saturday, his loved ones mourned their loss. We can only speculate about the anxiety and sadness of his people. It was a difficult day awaiting the uplifting joy of the risen Christ, son of God, on Easter Sunday. The gift of eternal life that comes with Christ’s sacrificial love is a blessing.
People of faith will receive additional comfort and assurance as described in the words from Jeremiah: 31:33, “Behold, the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Matthew 1:22-23 revealed the coming birth of Jesus, and the promise that God will be present always. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” These words provide strength for our personal journeys. Christians will hear the calming assurance of the words of God and Jesus.
Two Holy Celebrations will end this week. Holy Week ends on Saturday, April 3. Passover will end at sundown on Sunday, April 4. Jews and Christians will move forward with the blessings of their faith. May all faithful people seek just and peaceful solutions to conflicts and strive to end poverty and illness.
For the ending of Lent, I am sharing the thoughts from two readers:
“Lent is a time that I make space in my heart for Christ to do his work. I ask the Holy Spirit to be with me. It is a time to let the law of God give order to my life. I take the daily readings and meditations and turn them into the ‘living God’ through my actions of love.” — reader
“During Lent I come alive and experience a deeper joy in Christ. Lent prepares and sustains me for the spiritual journey ahead. It reminds me to stop and take time to let go and trust Him.” — reader
“And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” — Matthew 28:20
Earl Crow’s column is published Saturdays in the Winston-Salem Journal. Email him at email@example.com.