His arrival was eagerly anticipated. The crowds were waiting anxiously. They figured they’d finally found their man: someone who could unite them; someone with the necessary leadership skills to carry their platform, someone who shared their vision for the future. He was perfect for the position. They’d tried to press him into service before, but he’d deftly slipped through their fingers then. But now, now the time was right. Perhaps he’d only evaded them earlier precisely becausehe’d chosen this time to come forward, this time to step into the spotlight and take his rightful place as their leader. In any event, the stage was set and the crowds were eager to give him a hero’s welcome, when he finally did arrive.
The city itself had already been abuzz for a couple of weeks, readying itself for the big event. Everything needed had been gathered together ahead of time, in preparation for crowds that would swell the population of the city to several times its normal size. Every room in the city, and every room for several miles around, was full. Even standing room seemed to be at a premium. Everythingwas ready!
His arrival was a big event in and of itself. People didn’t wait for him to enter the city, but thronged out to meet him on the road, as soon as they got the news that he was near. Everybody, from young to old, lined his way; cheering and waving national symbols of victory. And he rode along, right into the center of things, with an air of confidence and quiet humility few had ever seen before. They were absolutely sure he was the right man for the job, and they just knewhe would accept it.
But something went terribly awry between the beginning of that fateful week and the end of it. The crowds that had been so supportive at the beginning did an about-face and became a murderous mob by the end of it. Now, it’s not that he did anything wrong; on the contrary, he did everything precisely right. Everything, that is, except embrace their well-crafted political platform. Oh, it’s not that he rejected it outright. He was just more interested in being “right” than in being their “king”. And so the crowds, who had so eagerly welcomed him on Sunday, became the ones calling for his death on Friday.
You know the story, of course. It’s the story of Holy Week, the story of Jesus’ last week in this earthly life the last week of His teaching, the week of His rejection and condemnation by the world, and the week of His crucifixion, death, and burial. It’s a week that, if it were the end of the story, would have been a horrible week, a week of the greatest tragedy the world had ever known. BUT, IT WAS NOT THE END. Rather, it was the turning-point of the story. For on the Eighth Day that would be the First Day of the new week Jesus broke the chains of death, rising from the dead to become the first-born of God’s new creation. And that opened a whole new chapter in human history. For the death that our sins demand of us has been “paid in full” by His sacrificial death in our stead. It’s the hope those of us who are partisans of Christ that is, baptized Christians cling to. For, when we were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into His death. And, we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that, just as He was raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For since we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him and resurrection like His!
It’s the good news of Easter the day that both caps Holy Week and makes sense of it! For if Christ Jesus had not died, our sins would still be demanding our death from us. But since He has both died, and broken the grip of death on our behalf, we are FREE, and part of God’s “New Creation”. And that is why, on Easter morning, we cry out, “Hallelujah, the Lord is Risen!” and shout, “He is Risen indeed, Hallelujah!” May you have a wondrous Holy Week, and a Blessed and Happy Easter!