When we go on our Lenten journey, we commemorate the Easter story. The seven days leading up to Easter Day are recognized as Holy Week. The Holy Week is a journey with Jesus to Jerusalem beginning Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday). Palm Sunday is followed by the observance of Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday, followed by Holy Wednesday (Spy Wednesday). This is the Wednesday that Jesus dined at the house of Simon the Leper in Bethany. Maundy Thursday – a ceremony of washing the feet. Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command" and refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
Maundy Thursday is followed by Good Friday – the day that we commemorate Jesus’ death at Calvary. Holy Saturday or Black Saturday – a Protestant belief that Jesus descended to the realm of the dead to save righteous souls, such as the Hebrew patriarchs, who died before His crucifixion. Easter Vigil – also known as Paschal or the Great Vigil of Easter. Liturgy is held in traditional Christian churches as the first of the resurrection of Jesus. Easter Day or Resurrection Sunday – commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
From this brief narrative, we can see that the seven days leading up to Easter Day are a mixture of the good, the bad, and the ugly. For example, last week when we celebrated Palm Sunday, we read that the people shouted and praised Jesus (Mark 11:9-10). But it is one thing to sing praises when good things are happening. It is quite another thing when good things are not happening. For example, last Sunday’s Old Testament reading points us to the prophecy of a faithful Servant (Isaiah 50:4-9). In fulfillment of this prophecy, Jesus, the suffering Servant, will experience pain, suffering, and humiliation. Yet he will remain faithful.
The above text describes how the suffering Servant (Jesus) does not withdraw from the task. He suffered violence and humiliation, yet He does not reject the divine vocation. He submits to insults and beatings. Despite His sufferings, He will not be deterred. His attitude is exemplary of an acceptance of life’s struggles while remaining unshaken in faith.
Friday is coming. The same people who shouted and praised Jesus will call for His crucifixion. There will be a hearing before the Sanhedrin. They will condemn Him. Peter will deny Him. At daybreak, there will be a trial before Pilate. Jesus will be tortured, killed, and buried.
But Sunday is coming too. The journey to Jerusalem and the Easter story do not all end on Friday. As we approach Easter Sunday morning, we will wake up to the commemoration of an empty tomb. The empty tomb is symbolic of a divine promise. In as much as Jesus overcame His pain and suffering on Friday, we can do likewise. This Easter story calls us to recognize the Lord in our lives despite our circumstances. Forget the shouting and empty praises. Instead, look for the presence of the risen Lord in and around our communities, in people close to us, and in people in need.
Consider how many times and in how many ways God saved us in the past. How many times have we entrusted our spirits into God’s hands? As they battered Stephen with stones and as he faced the battle of his life, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, accept my life” (Acts 7:59). In facing today’s challenges, it is hard to see the result. But that is when we ought to pray to be forever loyal, trusting in the name of the Lord. The reason we mentioned this is because we have a divine assurance that even though we are experiencing our Friday, our Sunday is coming. Together we will rise above our pain and sufferings. Happy Easter!
Blessings to you!