Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:54, John 19:31-42, 20:1-18
Holy Week has been different for me this year. It started last week, with Palm Sunday. At our church service, during the Kid's Connection message, the speaker reminded us of the timeline of the events of Jesus’ last days on earth in his human body. During Sharing & Prayer time, another person talked about being in Rome for the observance of Palm Sunday. Then having actual palm branches to wave at the end of the service, I could see myself at that first Palm Sunday. I could see Jesus entering Jerusalem, I could hear his followers singing “Hallelujah!” I could feel the joy and hope of the coming of the promised Messiah, the King!
Later this week, at our Maundy Thursday service which was a Tenebrae observance, I felt the anguish and sorrow as Jesus stood trial before Pilate, being accused of things that were untrue. If I had been there, would I have screamed out in his defense, “He didn’t do anything wrong!” Or would I have turned on him and with the crowd, shouted, "Crucify him?"
Then one by one the candles were snuffed out to represent the life and light of the world, Jesus, dying on the cross. Would I have stayed to watch as the women did? Or would I too leave and abandon him as most of the disciples had? What would I have felt as I heard Jesus call out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
But on the day of His resurrection, what would it have felt like to have my emotions jolted back to joy and HOPE? Like Mary? Remember, she had witnessed both Jesus' crucifixion and his burial in the garden tomb, and then saw the Risen Saviour!
How we view the resurrection is a matter of perspective. All the early Christ-followers had built their hope upon was dashed to the ground on Good Friday. But as one writer put it, we have the benefit of hindsight. Two thousand plus years later, we know what was coming and for us, Easter is the day that changed everything. We have the advantage of having the written Scriptures, of being able to see the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Gospel, the Good News, that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb who paid the debt of sin, and restored and is restoring our relationship with God, our Father, the creator of heaven and earth. This is the gift of Salvation – this is the message of the hope of the resurrection!
I ask you this, “What are we doing with doing this message of hope?”
While I was writing this message, I read the following story about a comedian, who was described as “quick to offend.” In a video he posted, he tells of a businessman from a previous night’s audience, who showed up a second time to give him a personally inscribed Bible. Visibly moved and assuming the businessman knew he was an atheist, he described how this really good guy looked him in the eye when he spoke, and how he cared enough to risk ridicule or rejection. From there, he went on to express his lack of respect for Christians who don’t proselytize – which means to share their faith (and make disciples). He said, “If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”
That really got to me. If I, if we, have joy and hope in Easter, the resurrection, shouldn’t we continually be sharing this good news? Jesus told Mary to tell his disciples that he was risen; Jesus told his disciples and us, in Matthew 28, to go and make disciples of all the nations. And in Acts 1:8, Jesus again says, “and you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.”
I don’t know about you, but after my newfound experiences during this Holy Week, I want to become more bold about sharing the hope of the resurrection.''
"You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!"
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
(adapted from Lori Lower's SonRise Service Sermon,
Ashland Brethren in Christ Church, 4/7/21)