I’m taking a brief break from my series “On the Verge” to share a few thoughts as we approach Easter 2015.
Passion Week in the life of Christ begins with Palm Sunday, which we celebrate tomorrow. Followers of Jesus view Palm Sunday as a time to remember back to the day when Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (cf. Luke 19:28-48). The events that took place on that day set the stage for what was to be the most important event in the history of the world, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But before there could be a resurrection there had to be suffering and death.
We like the resurrection part. Resurrection brings hope, promise and new life. Like the crocus fighting its way through the last dusting of snow, Easter reminds us that the dark days of winter are not eternal. For the believer in Christ, we find comfort in the words of Jesus, “Because I live, you shall live also.” (John 14:19)
Yes, we like resurrection. We just don’t like what happens prior to it that makes resurrection necessary. It’s the suffering and death part that makes us cringe. If we could, we’d just as soon bypass the hospital, funeral home and cemetery and instead book a direct flight to paradise. “Just give me the keys to my mansion, thank you – I’ll skip the casket.”
Most of us would choose a crown without a cross, a blessing without a burden, a vacation without a vocation. Whether we like it or not, those unpleasant elements are as normal and necessary to our existence as dirt and rain are to flowers. We will never blossom to our full potential without suffering. That’s what Jesus’ final week before His death, burial and resurrection were all about.
There is a reason why these days are called the “Passion Week.” During those moments we see Jesus Christ experience the whole gamut of human emotion. From the ecstasy of Sunday’s triumphal parade to the agony of Friday’s cross, and everything in between we see how those emotions affected Him. Fully human, and fully Divine, He was as Isaiah said, “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)
On Palm Sunday crowds of people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem as the Messiah. Five days later the same crowds shouted, “Crucify Him!” How could they have been so fickle? Throughout the week, and especially on Thursday night His disciples all pledged to stay with Him, Peter promising to do so even if it meant prison or death. A few hours later, they all left Him alone.
“We’ll always be here for you, Jesus,” they promised. “We’ll always be together.” But their good intentions melted like a cheap candle on a hot summer day. When trouble came in like a flood, they all scattered and hit the trail for higher ground, every man for himself.
Maybe you know how Jesus felt. If so, I am sure He knows how you feel. Writing about Jesus, the author of Hebrews said, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV) He experienced the ultimate in passion and pain, so that He can help you make it through yours. He offers two things you can’t live without: healing and hope. And when it seems like you have crashed into the intersection of disappointment and discouragement, remember it may just be a detour on the road to your divine destiny offering grace and growth.
Through the next couple of posts, I’m praying you’ll receive a major portion of healing and hope in the process of discovering grace and growth. We all share some similar experiences in the passionate process of disappointment, suffering, death and resurrection. These shared experiences should bring us closer together and closer to God, not farther apart.