A Holy Week

Down the Via Dolorosa called the
way of suffering
Like a lamb came the Messiah
Christ the King
But He chose to walk that road
out of His love for you and me
Down the Via Dolorosa all the
way to Calvary. 

(Lyrics by Sandi Patty. Click here to listen to a great rendition of Via Dolorosa on YouTube.)

We are now in the midst of a Holy Week. We call this week “holy” (set apart) because the only completely holy man who ever lived, devoted His last days to walking toward suffering and death for you and me. Jesus’ final week was not only a “Holy Week” but the most important week in history!

I’d like to share just a couple thoughts as we observe Holy Week …

Stop – Yes, there might be a lot happening this week for you. There are multiple worship services at the conclusion of this Lenten season. The kids are still in school. Guests might be coming to town, or you might be leaving town. You’re getting ready for Easter activities and family gatherings. Those things are all good, but when are you going to stop this week? Will you have any time to reflect during this Holy Week? Take some breaks this week in the midst of all your preparations. Clear out a little space in your planner – even in five minute doses. Stop and reflect on what your Lord did for you that first Holy Week …

Pray – With only hours to go until He would be hanging from the cross, Jesus stopped to pray in Gethsemane. (He also prayed in His disciples’ presence after the Passover meal and instituting the Lord’s Supper – see John chapter 17.) You might say that Jesus “had a lot on His plate” as He came to Jerusalem for the last time. He had come to do the most important and the most difficult things that had ever been done – bearing the sins of all humankind, enduring God’s just wrath against our sin, undoing the curse of death, and bodily rising from the dead – yet how amazing is it that Jesus would stop multiple times through this Holy Week to be with His Father in prayer!? Perhaps we should do the same.

Read – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all center their Gospel writings on the events of Holy Week. I looked in each Gospel just to see how much of the text describes the events of Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Here is what I found: Matthew 21:1 – 28:15;  Mark 11:1 – 16:14;  Luke 19:28 – 24:49;  and John 12:12 – 20:25. (I omitted other references to Jesus’ appearances and ascension which took place after Easter Sunday – but read those as well!) Needless to say, a large percentage of the Gospels describes the events of Holy Week. You might consider picking one of the Gospels this week and meditating on Jesus’ words and deeds in His final days.

Worship – There are additional worship services this week for a reason. On Maundy Thursday (March 29, 2018), we remember some of the events of “the night He was betrayed.” Jesus did a great deal of teaching on Maundy Thursday.  He ate the Passover meal with His disciples, remembering how God rescued His people in times past.  He stooped to serve by washing His disciples’ feet.  He instituted the Lord’s Supper – the gifts of His body and blood in, with, and under simple bread and wine.  He prayed in the garden.  He was betrayed by His friend, Judas.  He was arrested, accused, and passed around from the high priests to the Romans to the Herodians.  Not to mention the final stages of Jesus’ journey down the Via Dolorosa (“way of suffering”) on Good Friday!

Everything that Jesus ever did led toward His suffering and death and resurrection in Holy Week!  Let’s focus on His saving love for us and make a point to worship on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, and throughout the coming season of Easter!

Receive – Your calendar is probably quite full this week. You feel like you have a lot to do, but you also need to receive. What do we receive this week?  At the Lord’s Table, we receive Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for us. Through Christ’s words, spoken via our pastors, we receive Christ’s own forgiveness of our sins (John 20:23). You enter into the true story of Christ’s passion, a story in which you play a part – Christ took your sins; said of you, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34);  died in your place;  and rose to new and everlasting life, keeping His promise to you: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

Through the services, songs, and Scriptures shared during this Holy Week, the Lord comes to you, wanting you to receive, as always, His words of eternal life (John 6:68)!

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. Grant us Your peace.  Amen.

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