Each year about this time, our clergy meet with the young people who have spent the last seven months or so in Confirmation Class. It is our chance to have a conversation with them and make sure they know what they are about to do when they join the Church on Confirmation Sunday.
While meeting with one of the confirmands the other day, we started talking about Jesus’ death on the cross and the fact that he died for our sins. About that time, I asked him, “Do you know what Easter is?” Immediately his eyes lit up and with great enthusiasm he said, “That was the day Jesus rose from the dead.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Starting this Sunday, March 25, we enter what to the Church is the most sacred of weeks. We enter Holy Week. It begins with Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday, of course, was that day when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. If you allow your imagination to go there, you can almost see the crowds as they rush out to Jesus waving their branches, laying their coats on the ground and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord… Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:1-11).
What a glorious day that seemed to be. Many of the people literally wanted to make Jesus king, but the king they wanted was a warrior king who would sweep the Romans from Palestine and lead Israel back to a place of world domination and power. That was not the sort of king Jesus had come to be. Jesus had come to forgive sins and claim people’s hearts and lives. He had come to demonstrate God’s love for them and win their love for God.
The more people began to come to grips with the fact he was not going to be the king they wanted; and the more the religious leaders fueled the fires of distrust and resentment, the closer Jesus moved toward Calvary.
Then came the arrest. Then came the crucifixion. Then came the burial. Those who were threatened by Jesus brushed their hands together and said, “Glad that’s over!” Those who had stood on the periphery just went back to life as normal. And those who had followed Jesus hid in fear behind doors that were locked. But as one old preacher said, “That was Friday, and Sunday was still comin’!”
The world has been forever different because of the events that took place during those eight days. Frankly, my life has been different because of those eight days. And the good news is that everybody’s life can be different because of those eight days.
I hope you will join us next week, starting on Palm Sunday as we walk with Jesus from his entry into Jerusalem, through his betrayal and crucifixion, to that glorious moment when he conquered death once and for all and rose victoriously from the grave. You might just find it will once again change your life!