We have arrived at Holy Week. I write this to you on Monday of Holy Week—yesterday having been Palm Sunday. The faithful experience of Holy Week essentially means tracking the events of Jesus’ activities during this week: Sunday to Sunday—Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
The Church has claimed that three days are most important. They are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Indeed, these three days contain some of the most significant events of the Christian faith, but certainly not all. In the Gospel of Matthew, this week of Jesus’ activities starts at chapter 21 and continues to the end of the Gospel, chapter 28:20. In those chapters, Jesus teaches us much. He speaks often of the kingdom of heaven (that is, God) and tells parables teaching of its eminent arrival. He tells us to be ready and prepared. He tells us to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. He takes on, again, the religious authorities of the Temple, first some of the money changers and later the authorities themselves. He institutes Holy Communion, the Lord’s supper. Starting about the middle of chapter 26, the events of his betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion are narrated. At the end of chapter 27, Jesus dies and is buried. Finally, in chapter 28, Matthew’s story concludes with the narrative of the resurrection of Jesus.
“Tracking” these events can mean something as simple as reading the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—for instance, Matthew on Monday, Mark on Tuesday, etc. It could mean attending the Holy Week services provided by our churches. It could mean being in prayer at noon each day. Basically, it means paying attention to the days of Jesus “final” week.
After the tracking of these events comes the exploring of these events. For example, what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? Who is Jesus and what is my response to him? Do I ever betray him like his disciples did? When I receive holy communion, what happens to me? Am I the servant he told me to be? What do I make of the lessons he taught in that last week? Am I part of his resurrection now or am I waiting for death? Do I ever crucify Jesus with my behavior toward God or neighbor? Can I trust God even a percentage of what Jesus trusted?
Trying to answer these questions (and many more) is the work of Easter and all the weeks that follow. Following Jesus through Holy Week really is the beginning work of following Jesus in the resurrection. May God’s grace and strength be with us all.
Pastor Jeff Blackman