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Good morning, friends. My good friend Bob Shank posted this message this morning and I thought it would be a great message to share with you.
This is Holy Week, the powerful remembrance and reflection of the events leading up to the powerful day that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead on Easter morning. I wanted to share this point of view by Bob Shank, from The Masters Program, as we all posture ourselves toward this meaningful week:
What a week…
Fortunes can turn on a dime; the half-life of popularity can be extraordinarily brief. An individual’s affection can shift directions in a heartbeat; a mob can be redirected in a nanosecond. Have you ever felt the whiplash of commitment, offered… and, then, withdrawn?
This is a week handcuffed to history. In the space of seven days, our attention will be drawn back into contact with events and perspectives that are not stuck in the past: they remain powerful in our present.
Palm Sunday. Tax Day. Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Easter. Each of these are worthy of preparation and experience, with some time afterward, to recover and reflect. No such luck; they’re coming back-to-back this week, leading up to the Great Conclusion.
Palm Sunday: yesterday was all about the Triumphal Entry. The Jews – held under foreign domination, for generations – were tired of waiting for the Messiah, promised to them by God. They read the Scriptures through the filter of their pain; they were looking for a political savior, and Jesus met their demands. When He rode into Jerusalem, they were ready to back his campaign for power…
Tax Day: for us, it’s April 15th, but the trauma of the tax bite is unrelenting. “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar…?” is a constant enigma. Would God declare a tax holiday? “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s…” (Matthew 20:15-22). The question still echoes…
Maundy Thursday: “Maundy” refers to the foot-washing that began the Seder Dinner, shared by Jesus and the 12 in the Upper Room. This was an intimate, invitation-only commemoration of God’s rescue of His people – the Jews – from Egypt’s bondage. Jesus was the only one in the room who understood that it would also be the genesis of a new commemoration – what Christians know as “communion” – of God’s rescue of His people – the church – from the bondage of sin and death.
Good Friday: confusion and conflict surround the celebration. First, was Jesus crucified on Thursday – allowing three full days in the tomb? – or was it on Friday? And, why call it “Good” – a unique designation which only occurs in English – when it marks the death of the Son of God? Those are distractions to the main point: the day that changed the eternal fate of mankind isn’t even a legal holiday.
Early in the day, Pontius Pilate offered the crowd a choice; he was preparing to show mercy on one prisoner of Rome, and the mob could choose between Barabbas – an insurrectionist, under arrest for crimes against Rome – and Jesus, their fleeting fulfillment of their dreams of political rescue. Their vote said it all: give us Barabbas. The Lamb of God – the mystery that eluded the messiah-watchers of Jesus’ time – did His work without human acclamation. The Anointed One (Messiah) would take away the sin that forever separated God from His creation. Nearly 2000 years ago, that day ended with earthquakes and deep distress: the Man in whom so many placed their high expectations was buried in a borrowed tomb, along with their dreams…
Easter: the prior week began with great anticipation, and ended with desperation. But Sunday morning marked a new week, and ushered-in a new era that made God’s plan come to life in unforeseen ways. The brutalized body of the One executed for no apparent crime was now missing…