“They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:7-9
Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday, the first day in the Holy week before Easter. Most of us know the story. Jesus rides triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. His disciples and followers are shouting praises and calling Jesus the Son of David, Hosanna (Savior), and He who comes in the name of the Lord. Cloaks and leafy branches are thrown down on the road to welcome Jesus as a king! Celebration!
But this is where the celebration begins to fade, because the Pharisees are having none of it, their hearts are hardened. They do not see Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, the king of Israel. They see Him as a threat to their power, their place in the temple, and their authority. And so the plot begins.
Jesus throws the money changers and sellers out of the temple. Each day He teaches in the temple with wisdom, understanding and authority. Jesus tells parables to the people who are amazed at His understanding. He is tested by both the Pharisees and the Sadducees, replying to each “test” with authority and the wisdom found in the word of God. He calls the Pharisees to task. The plot thickens.
Thursday comes and more celebration, the Passover. Jesus shares the Passover meal with His disciples. He calls out His betrayer. He breaks the bread and offers it, symbolic of His body broken for us. He shares the wine, symbolic of His blood, willingly shed for our forgiveness, for our salvation. Jesus goes to Gethsemane to talk with His Father as Peter, James and John sleep nearby. The mob intrudes. A kiss and the arrest is complete. The plot crescendos.
A long night of false witnesses, accusations, leading questions, all left unanswered by Jesus. A charge of blasphemy. A call for death. The assaults begin. Friday arrives and Jesus is before Pilate. The leaders persuade a riotous crowd to choose Barabbas. Cries of “Crucify Him!” resound in the courtyard. Pilate washes his hands. The soldiers mock and draw blood. The walk to the cross. The pain, the torture, the taunts, the separation, all endured for us. Darkness. The death, the torn curtain, the split rocks. The sorrow. The plot climaxes.
The Sabbath is coming. A hasty burial in a borrowed tomb, sealed with a stone. Sorrow surrounds. Waiting…
This week, let’s all experience this most holy week with gratitude and a prayerful attitude, celebrating our Savior, knowing that our sorrow will soon be replaced with rejoicing.
I thank God for each of you! And I thank you for joining me this week as we relive Holy Week. Join me next week when our sorrow is replaced with hope and joy!