What’s So Special about Holy Week?

This is a story I wrote for The Falcon, an online newspaper for The University of Montevallo.  Unfortunately, due to space, it wasn’t able to be published.  The story examines the events of Holy Week and their importance in our faith.  Enjoy.

This past week, Christians all over the world celebrated Holy Week, a week culminating in the greatest celebration of the Christian faith: Easter.  In this story, I’ll lay out why this week is so important and how it changes the way we should live, specifically looking at Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Let’s first take a quick look at the events leading up to Friday.  First, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet.  He did this to show them their need for His cleansing from sin, and to give them the example of service they were to echo.  We’ve come to call this day “Maundy Thursday.”  Make no mistake: The disciples’ feet were gross, and the job was usually reserved for the slave of the slave.

However, the God who had created all the universe took the form of a servant and washed the feet of sinful men, including the feet of the one who would betray Him (Judas Iscariot).  In this moment, Jesus showed love, foreshadowing the ultimate sacrifice He would make on the cross.

After the last supper, Jesus is arrested, beaten and sent to die by way of crucifixion.  Even though He had done nothing wrong or deserving of death, the crowd chose to crucify Him because He did not meet their expectations of the Messiah.

This was all to fulfill Scripture.  In Isaiah 53, the prophet Isaiah tells of the work of Christ.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

He died to accomplish salvation.  Later in the chapter, Isaiah says Jesus will “make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Jesus, on the cross, paid for every sin, past, present and future, for those who will put their faith and trust in Him.  He took the wrath of God, and died the death that we deserved to die, so that we may be counted righteous in Him.  This leads Paul to write in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus cries out on the cross, “It is finished!”  When He uttered these words, He told us that the work of salvation, the payment of sin and the taking of God’s wrath by death, was done.  We cannot contribute to our salvation.  It is fully by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work.  And we can trust in His finished work for one reason:

He’s alive.

Saying “It is finished!” would amount to a lie if Jesus stayed in the grave.  It would have made Him a liar, and not worthy of our trust or obedience.  But He didn’t stay there.

The entire Christian faith rides on the resurrected Savior.  Let’s look at it:

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”–John 20:1.  Mary goes to tell the disciples that the body of Christ is not there, and they come to investigate.  The disciples begin to understand that He is risen.  Mary stays at the grave.  Then Jesus shows up:

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’”–John 20:15-16.

Jesus calls her by name, and she recognizes Him as her risen Lord.

The implications of the resurrection are huge.  Paul writes the following in 1 Corinthians 15:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve.”–1 Corinthians 15:3-5.

It is of first importance.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the most important truth in the history of histories.  If it is true, it changes everything.  Paul says this later in the chapter:

“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain….and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”–13:13-19.

Without the resurrection, there is no sacrifice for sins.  In rising from the grave, Jesus showed that His sacrifice for all of our sin was accepted before God the Father, the Judge of the nations.  That means that when I sin, I run to the cross, not looking to make another sacrifice, but to trust in the one He made, and receive the forgiveness that I have in Christ.

With His resurrection, Jesus gives Christians hope that we too will be raised one day.  With His resurrection, Jesus showed that not only is He alive, but that He is coming back.

And if He is coming back, we must live in expectancy of it.  The truth of the gospel, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, changes how we view our lives, our sin, the world around us and eternal matters.

Jesus is Lord.  He’s not just my Lord.  He is the Lord, and one day, everyone will confess this, rather it be out of joy and gladness or fear and realization of the coming judgment.  In deciding to come back from the dead, He showed that He is God.

God the Father places God the Son in authority over all things, and to be Christian is to be submitted to Christ.  That means we embrace His truth and His ways.

David Platt, pastor of The Church of Brook Hills in Hoover, gives these “startling implications” of the resurrection:

1) Jesus is Lord over life and death.

2) Jesus is Lord over sin and Satan.

3) Jesus is Lord over you and me.

We have two responses: Turn and believe in Jesus, trust in His work and surrender to His Lordship, or turn away from Christ, reject Him and receive eternal hell.

In a postmodern world of relative truth, one truth remains absolute: Jesus is alive, and Jesus is Lord.  And He is coming back.  Will we surrender to His good and beautiful Lordship now, escaping sin and that which leads to death?  Or will we reject Him on our way to hell?

Because He is alive, we are free to come and trust in Him, and receive new life from the Lord.

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