Holy Week Exposed
Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding on a borrowed donkey, to cries of "Hosanna to the King!"
Jesus is not king. He is a homeless migrant, wandering from town to town, out of favor with the Synagogue, one of thousands of poor Jews in a country that is under the rule of a foreign government.
The Jewish holiday that remembers the night that the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Jews, who were slaves in Egypt at the time. The first-born sons and animals in Egypt all died that night, except for the first-born of the Jews who followed God's instructions and were preparing to escape.
Jesus is in Jerusalem to observe this holiday. He has to borrow a room, and ask his friends to get the supplies needed for the supper. He serves the meal, something that would have been done by his wife, but he doesn't have one. He washes his friends' feet, something that would have been done by his servant, but he doesn't have one. He says the blessing, something that would have been done by his father, but he doesn't have one. He is totally responsible for this group of men who have decided to follow him. He has become leader, servant, and caretaker all at once.
After the meal, he leaves and goes out into the woods to pray. His friends fall asleep, but Jesus knows that he's in for trouble, and stays up all night, praying for deliverance from death, or at least for the strength to endure it. Maybe his status as a first-born son has really hit home this Passover. He feels the Angel of Death breathing down his neck. He feels the weight of responsibility bearing down on his shoulders.
Jesus is, in fact, arrested that night. He gives himself up. He refuses to defend himself, or to name any accomplices. His followers scatter. He is charged with trying to overthrow the government. He is given a sham trial and sentenced to be flogged, and when that doesn't work, to die a cruel death by crucifixion.
Jesus is required to carry his own cross, along with the other criminals, up the hill where he will be hung to die. He is weak from lack of sleep and from being beat up. His back has been reduced to a bloody pulp. He can barely walk, much less carry a huge piece of wood. A bystander is enlisted to finish carrying the cross.
Jesus is hung, naked, on the cross. His friends have mostly deserted him. His mother is there, along with John, the youngest of his followers. Maybe women and teenagers are not held responsible and are less likely to be punished as criminals, so they can brave being associated with him. He asks them to take care of each other. He dies just before the sun goes down and is put into a borrowed tomb. His body cannot be prepared for burial, because it is the Sabbath and by Jewish law no work can be done on the Sabbath.
Resurrection (Easter) Sunday:
The women go to the tomb to prepare the body. A huge stone had been rolled in front of it because the authorities were concerned that the body would be stolen. Guards were placed to make sure this did not happen. The women find the guards asleep, the stone rolled away, and Jesus' body gone!
The guards are scared that they'll be in trouble, so a story is hatched that Jesus' disciples did, indeed, steal his body.
The disciples are mourning, hidden away because they are afraid that they will be killed next. After all, they were part of the whole "Jesus is King" scenario.
Back at the tomb, a man approaches Mary Magdalene. She's not looking up. She's not supposed to talk to strange men. He says her name, and she finally recognizes his voice! She runs to tell the others that Jesus is, in fact, alive!
Some of the disciples run to the tomb to see for themselves. They find the tomb empty, just as Mary said. However, they don't see Jesus anywhere. So now they don't know what is going on. They go back into hiding.
Jesus visits the disciples, apparently walking through a solid, locked door. He spends some time with them, walking around as he used to do, and after 40 days he disappears, purportedly into a cloud.
Who is Jesus?
This is the question that needs to be answered. Everything depends on it. Our response to this question determines the trajectory of our life from this point forward.
Is Jesus a King? Or is he a fraud? How can you tell?
The stories of Jesus are all in the Bible. He is also mentioned in histories from the time period. But stories are stories, and people can write anything they want. How do you know what is true?
This is a good time to ask. The disciples spent a lot of time after Jesus' death wrestling with this. They met together, praying and talking it out. Telling their stories. They waited for God to show them the truth. And when they found it, they went out boldly, telling everyone they could about the savior who changed their lives and continued to give them strength and guidance.
What comes next?
Let's start a discussion. Let's tell our stories. What do you know? What have you lived? What do you believe?
We believe that the stories of Jesus are true. We believe that we can be forgiven for anything we have done wrong, because Jesus went through punishment in our place, just as he gave himself up to save his disciples. We believe that our lives can be changed, and that we can be given new lives through Jesus, our Lord and our Savior. We believe that this can happen for anyone who asks.
Join the conversation. Let's move forward together.