Updated: May 14, 2020
"But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
and with His stripes we are healed." ~ Isaiah 53:5
Well friend, we've just passed Palm Sunday and are now in Holy Week.
As we approach and prepare for Resurrection Sunday, we walk through a vast spectrum of emotional journeys in honoring Passover, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday... and the gift at the end of it all.
Though they don't always coincide, this year, I'm happy to say they do. I love Advent and the Christmas season, but there's something about exploring nearly the full gamut of human experience in such a poignant and powerful week that strikes me as a phenomenal blessing. With Palm Sunday behind us, the next major point of reflection is Passover.
Passover is, of course, the celebration in remembrance of the Israelites being freed from slavery through their exodus out of Egypt.
Sweet sweet freedom... which was followed by 40 years in the desert, but that's another story for another time.
Pesach (Passover) is about redemption (hmm...). It's about looking back to recall and put oneself in the place of having been enslaved and subsequently freed.
Many scholars believe The Last Supper was in fact a Passover celebration, which is why I get a little giddy when the calendar falls this way. And, given everything everyone is going through at the moment, it seems a gentle mercy somehow to get to acknowledge (if not celebrate) in the sequence of the story itself.
Absolute fact or no, I'm not sure we'll ever know this side of eternity, there's a beautiful poetry and continuity to it. This year, Passover begins Wednesday evening and ends Thursday evening... when the Christian calendar honors the Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper. This may surprise you, but Maundy Thursday is actually my very favorite time of Holy Week. The other piece of Maundy Thursday that seems often set aside is, it's also the night Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked His disciples to stand guard, to stand watch, to stand for Him. Many of believers focus on the foot washing and the way it exhibits the servant's heart of the Savior, and that is a very powerful and poignant piece of the story. Other believers choose to coordinate a vigil to stand stead, almost in apology, for the disciples who slept, and in a commitment that in the world, we stand for Him.
For years, Mom and I participated in these vigils whenever we could.
I wanted to coordinate one this year, but that's obviously going to have to wait. Though I guarantee, I will be choosing my own hour in the middle of the night, rising, praying, and reading scripture in my own personal acknowledgment.
There's something about falling to our knees, drawing near to the Father in stillness, silence, and grief, in respect for a moment that's so very rich and real... That opportunity strikes me as such a privilege.
Not only that, but His prayer that night has become the litany of my life... Not my will, Father, but Yours be done.
And so it is, we come to Good Friday. It's always seemed an odd choice of monikers to me. Certainly, conversation of Holy Week cannot be addressed without it. That would be like a donut without the hole. Aside from the crux of the story, the crucifixion itself, this day carries with it so many amazing messages.
The memory of Simon of Cyrene asks us... Do we serve Him well? Would we too be willing to pick up His cross and trudge the road to Golgotha?
Do we have the humility of a thief?
As the Savior declares, "Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit." Are we willing to do the same... day by day, breath by breath?
And, Joseph of Arimathea... Will we honor Him well, giving what we have to offer in any given moment, no matter the circumstance or consequence? Will we be so bold for His sake?
We take those questions and so much more with us into three days of darkness, desolation, and sorrow. But, fear not, friends... The Son does indeed rise on the third day, bringing with Him a Light unlike the world has ever known.
I think we'll wait for Easter Monday to talk more about that. But, please know, as I fall to my knees this Holy Week, in honor of the most extraordinary story ever told, you are in my prayers. May all of the internal and external journeys you take be blessed. As you travel this road of life, as you ask yourself these questions and countless others, may the Holy Spirit show up and provide the answer; that you may ever walk in His Will and His way, that you may come before Him in the final days and hear those most precious words... "Well done, good and faithful servant."
"Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come." ~ Exodus 12:42 (NIV)
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I go over there and pray.' ... Then He said to them, 'My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.' And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.' And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, 'So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' ... Then He came to the disciples and said to them, 'Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.'" ~ Matthew 26:36-45 (NASB - excerpts)
"Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!' And Jesus said to him, 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'" ~ Luke 23:42-43 (BSB)
"Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus... And Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb." ~ Mark 15:43&46 (NAS - excerpts)
May the Good Lord bless you and keep you, friends... always, in all ways. Amen.
Bonus praise song... just because. ♥