Here we are. It is near the end of Holy Week. It is arguably the most important week in Christian history. For many the final days of Jesus’ life has no meaning. For some Christians this week has very little impact in their daily lives.
All people are looking for freedom and empowerment but most will not turn toward Jesus to find it. Most would rather find that freedom and empowerment by listening to voices that tell them what they want to hear.
“Do what you want, it is your life.”
“Seize the day.”
“If it feels good for you then don’t worry about the impact.”
“Don’t think about others, do what is right for you.”
Some of those statements have an element of truth, freedom and empowerment. But when these messages are embraced without consideration of consequences or boundaries people get hurt and relationships are damaged. If unchecked, freedom turns to isolation and toxicity.
Christ too offers freedom and empowerment. It is found at the cross and is realized through his death. Yet the freedom and empowerment found in Christ is always within the context of communal relationships and not rampant individualism.
If you are still reading this, I hope you will why Holy Week is so important to the life of the Christian.
As for me, this is more than extra services at church. The older I get the more I see the need for one who can save me from myself and what I selfishly want. I often see that my biggest problems are not other people or issues external to me. I am reminded of the Pogo comic from 1970 when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” I can see that everything is tainted with sin even things that are supposed to be good. That is why Holy Week is so important to me. I need Jesus to forgive my waywardness and lead me on new paths of real freedom. Empowered to love others and not just myself.
Knowing all of this and being acutely aware of my shortcomings causes me to draw close to Jesus versus run away and avoid Him at all costs. I am drawn to the quiet of the upper room. Like a silent intruder watching the disciples and Jesus partake in that first Holy Communion… wanting to eat bread and drink wine with this ragtag group of believers.
Even with all the horror, I run toward the cross. I don’t want to look but I feel I must. It is my sin that Jesus is bearing.
In a painting of the Crucifixion by the famous Dutch artist, Rembrandt, our attention is drawn immediately to the cross and to Jesus who hangs there. (see picture above)
Then looking at the crowd gathered around the Cross, we note the attitudes and actions of these people (if you look close enough). Notice the man in the turban. This is Rembrandt himself.
Yes, the famous painter included himself in this painting. I understand why. All Christians should spiritually stand near the cross to see cost of forgiveness and salvation. As uncomfortable as it is, I find it necessary.
Finally, I wait. I wait near the tomb awaiting the resurrection. I need to hear the good news of God’s love and that all is forgiven. I need to see that nothing can hold back the power of God’s love. Hearing the words “Christ is Risen” tells me that I can have true freedom from myself while I nurture and empower others around me in love.
I wish you a blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter.
Christ is Risen!