28 Mar I Hate This Week
I don’t like this week. There…I said it. I know it may sound weird to hear a preacher say he doesn’t like Holy Week, but I don’t. I never have liked it, and I hopefully never will.
Having served churches for a long time, I know some people have a problem with Holy Week because of the serious worship services some churches have on Holy (or Maundy) Thursday and Good Friday. Those services are effective at helping people reflect on their sinfulness and need for a savior. When done correctly, they keep attention on how much Jesus suffered for us when much of our culture is looking to Easter candy, shopping for gifts, and preparing to entertain for family gatherings. So much has to happen this week, but it is easy to miss the most important thing.
We celebrated Palm Sunday by praising King Jesus and talking about His Kingdom. If you jump from the Triumphal Entry of Jesus to Easter Sunday, you can miss so much. The first becomes the celebration of the other, just a few days early, but there is so much more.
Jesus moved into the center of the Jewish universe while riding on a donkey. His followers and a large crowd of people waved palm branches and threw their jackets down in front of Jesus as he rode into town. They said, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” They celebrated Jesus, but some of them did so for their own purposes.
Many of the Jewish people were tired of the Roman authority, and some wanted a rebellion. Others were faithful and believed God would send the Messiah to bring peace and prosperity to the world. Some just liked being caught up in the emotion of the day, so they joined in to fit in. Whatever the reason, by the time Friday rolled around, some of the same voices would curse Jesus and cry out for His murder. No, I’m not a fan of this week.
While it is easy to be critical of the crowds in Jerusalem, I have to wonder about the church today that gathers around Jesus to celebrate Easter. Are we there because we want to fit in? Or do we celebrate Jesus because of what He can do for us (business connections, a good moral place for my children, or fire insurance)? Are we really that different than the crowd that turned on Jesus when they didn’t get what they wanted? In the times we live, it is getting harder to be sure about our reasons.
Saying all of that, I don’t like this week most of all because of what happened. Whatever the motivation—self-preservation by the Jews or mob mentality or trying to use Jesus for their purposes—the Son of God was brutalized. He was betrayed, beaten, wrongfully convicted, scourged, spit on, stripped, laughed at, nailed to a cross, and left to die for all the world to see. And He was made to do so in a place where a bunch of lawless sinners like me had died for their sins. A holy man dying in an unholy place where they dumped the trash. I hate it.
So here we are on Wednesday…a LONG way from Sunday. The tomb has been cut from the rock. It is cold. It is vacant, and it is waiting for a guest. He will be there soon enough, and it breaks my heart.
For now, we have to live through these days, but Sunday is coming…
Blessings to you,