Get Ready for the Earth Shattering Event
Easter defines is the heart of our faith. But to fully understand this amazing day, we need to wrestle with Holy Week, the week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and Christ’s crucifixion. In the Gospel of Matthew it all begins with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of “Hosanna son of David” which though we often think is a greeting of joy actually means “Save Us!” The residents of Jerusalem were under the control of the military might of the Roman Empire and hoped that Jesus, the rightful heir of King David’s throne, would run the Romans out of their holy city.
This exuberant greeting lasts only a few days and by Thursday evening just after Jesus celebrates the Passover Meal (which will become Holy Communion) with his disciples, he is betrayed by Judas, arrested by the authorities, denied by his disciple Peter and paraded by Pilate in front of the people of Jerusalem. Charged with blasphemy (to deeply insult God) and sedition (to threaten the government) and now the greetings of “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday change to the cruel cries of “Crucify him!”
Jesus is led away by Roman soldiers to be placed on the cross (one of cruelest form of death ever devised). The disciples all flee and even the women who stood with him throughout his ministry do not try to intervene, but rather stand only at a distance. Matthew is not trying to blame any group of people for the events that happen, but rather tries to show us that everyone either turns on Jesus or abandons him. He wants us to know that this is human nature; we can be incredibly compassionate and caring people, but also we can be incredibly cruel or simply incapable of acting when we need to.
With that message in mind Matthew then turns to Christ’s death. Each Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus died on the cross. God had reached out to the world in the most loving way possible through his son and we had responded by rejecting that offer in the most powerful way we could: we killed him! Matthew then leaves the question in front of the reader for three days, what will God do?
It is not until Easter Sunday morning, the beginning of a new week, the beginning of a new era, and the beginning of a new religion that the answer comes to us. To our words of rejection God responds with the powerful Word of love: He raises Jesus from the dead. Prompting Paul, in 1 Corinthians, to ask: ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ Death no longer has the final word over humankind, God’s love does! It is in through the resurrection that we understand that God’s kingdom is coming into our world.
It is in the knowledge of the resurrection that we look at all events in Jesus’ life from his birth, through his ministry to his trail, death and crucifixion. Without Easter we would have no Church, no Christmas, and no Christian faith. It is with this faith that we can become new people, no longer holding on to past angers, no longer living in judgment of others. We do not deny that we live in a world that is filled with difficulties, people we don’t like, and challenges that are often feel beyond our doing. In Christ and his love we know that we have someone who walks with us in this troubled world and stands with us at our most difficult hours. When we place our faith in Christ we become part of God’s kingdom that is coming into our world and we become part of making our lives better and the world a new and better place.
Please, join us for Holy Week and Easter!
With the joy of the Resurrection,