Mar 25

Rev Gav

How does Holy Week change us?

Holy Week is a reminder to reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, that it may affect and transform us, and that we may commit to being Jesus to the world.

This week is called Holy Week, and it is framed at one end by Palm Sunday and at the other end by Easter Sunday. It is the week in the Christian calendar when we re-tell the story from Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey through to the last supper, his mock trial, death, and then finally his resurrection. It is a week of emotional highs and lows. We stand with the crowds cheering and greeting the king who has come to save us, then stagger in devastation as we see him hanging on the cross — our hopes and dreams shattered, then ask in wonder what has happened when the tomb is found empty, hardly daring to breathe lest it not be true that our Saviour lives.

Of course, as a minister, I regularly preach on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and have preached over twenty-five Easter Day sermons. Each time I try to come up with a different angle, an edge, or something with which to engage the congregation and draw them into the greatest story of all time. In this message I want to reflect on Holy Week from yet another angle, so here goes…

Often in the four gospels we read that, at the time they happened, the disciples had not fully understood the events that were taking place, rather they only pieced together the significance and symbolism of things Jesus did and said after Jesus had been resurrected. They were often confused and befuddled at what was happening, yet, when they looked back and reflected, they ‘got it’ and understood. Often, the symbolism they missed was in relation to the way Jesus had fulfilled prophesies about the Messiah — prophecies written centuries earlier. For example, the fact that God’s Anointed One would stand on the Mount of Olives, ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, that people would lay their cloaks on the ground ahead of him, that they would shout ‘Hosanna – God save us!’, that Jesus would be pierced, that lots would be cast for his clothes, that he would be raised again after three days, and so on.

Now, it struck me as odd that Jesus’ disciples did not make all these connections at the time, because usually, disciples of a rabbi would be fully versed in scripture and have it all pretty much memorised! Yet, I remembered that Jesus did not pick the elite-of-the-elite to be his disciples. He did not pick the best-of-the-best, the super-academic, or high-achieving synagogue graduates. Instead, he called ordinary people to follow him — those that had not made the grade — those who were broken, marginalised, hurting, and lost; people from ordinary backgrounds who did not have scripture memorised; simple folk, just like you and me, who were invited to follow.

And who was it that they were following? The revelation of God in the world, Jesus the Christ, was God’s demonstration of what God was and is like, and who it is we are invited to follow. Jesus was the king of the universe, yet he came to us like no earthly king. Earthly kings receive honour and praise and have security and armies to help them retain control. Everything about earthly kings points to themselves and their kingship, yet Jesus did not point to himself but pointed away from himself — to us. God who loves us more than we can possibly imagine, and who had given everything to us, demonstrated the ultimate expression of love by giving himself/herself to us. There could be no greater act of sacrifice.

This loving God calls us to be disciples and to be apprentices of Jesus; to copy Jesus and to be like Jesus; to be self-giving, selfless, and humble; to join in with God’s ongoing mission in the world, that it might be transformed through us; and that the world might come to know the love of God.

Holy Week is a reminder of the God we follow and a reminder of just how wide and deep God’s love is for us, and this week my prayer is that as we, like the disciples, reflect and look back on Jesus, that God’s love will affect us and change us, and that we will commit to being Jesus to the world. Let me close with these lyrics from the song, ‘Hear my Prayer’.

Help us be Jesus to the world.
Help us be your hands and your feet.
Help us have your heart for the broken-hearted.
Help us be Jesus to a world that needs you more than words can tell.
Help us be Jesus to the world.

Amen.

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