April 18, 2014

We Need All the Days of Holy Week

I always look forward to church on Easter, because the songs are joyous and the day-long focus of Christ's conquering of death settles such peace in my heart. It's a beautiful day of fellowship, new life, and rejoicing.
I find, however, that I often want to jump over Maundy Thursday and Good Friday without thinking and just get to the celebratory part. I don't dwell on the last supper or the betrayal or the crucifixion. Why sit somberly, I reason, in what I know will result in Easter morning? Why grieve when our mourning has already turned to dancing?

But the truth is that Easter morning is only one part of the story. An important part, yes, but jumping straight to the resurrection leaves us with little understanding of why it is so needed. There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, and there is no Good Friday without Maundy Thursday. Each part of the historical account completes the story; if we remove one, we don't have it at all. 

Each part of Holy Week tells us a part of the gospel:

Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, a symbol of a king coming in peace. 
Because of sin, there isn't lasting peace between God and man. We need peace with God. 

Maundy Thursday harbored the agony of Jesus' betrayal. 
We are the betrayers. We are the sinners.

On Good Friday--good for us, not for Him--Jesus died. 
The moment He died, He took the wrath of God upon Him for our sins, forgave us all trespasses, and made peace between us and God.

On Silent Saturday, the world forgot and moved on, but some waited, confused but holding to a sliver of hope. 
We doubt. We need proof that Jesus is the One who can actually forgive, proof that He is God. 

Easter Sunday is the proof. Jesus underscored everything He'd said and done by conquering death. His resurrection is our proof that He is God and that the work needed to bring peace is finished. 

Aside from this season, I think most Christians, myself included, tend to think in terms of only one of these days, and it's usually Thursday or Sunday. Some of us dwell in our sin, forever in Maundy Thursday, knowing fully the agony of what we have done in betraying Jesus. We forget that there is a Friday and a Sunday, or we try to earn our Sunday, so we continually tell ourselves only half of the story.

Some of us dwell only on the resurrection, and we lose sight of the depth of our sin. We find ourselves wondering what the big deal is about grace and why others seem to be overflowing with such joy and thanksgiving. We are telling ourselves only half of the story.

And then others of us are forever in Saturday, doubting that Jesus really did what He did and doubting that He really loves us. 

We need them all, all the days. We must sorrow over our betrayal, we must think about the agony of the cross, and we must also rejoice that God made a way to wipe out our sin and the sting of death.

So today, join with me in considering what we have done, but let's not stop there. Let's consider also what Christ has done, what this day represents. And then on Sunday, with the sin that's been wiped away fully in view, let's rise with joy in our hearts as we consider also what Christ's resurrection means. It means that He is God and He is love and that our peace has been won. 

That's the whole story.