Good afternoon brothers and sisters. This is a very exciting time during the Christian year. We look forward to Resurrection Sunday morning. If you are free, join us on Thursday night for our Foot Washing Worship Service. Please see the message below regarding Holy Week.
This is written as a reminder that this week is Holy Week, the most sacred time of the Christian year. It is my intent to share with you the last week of Jesus’ life on earth as recorded by the gospel writer Mark. Many scholars believe that Mark was the first of the four New Testament gospels, and Matthew, Luke and John later used it as major source in their writings. As we look closely at the gospel of Mark, it is believed that he chronicled Jesus’ last week on a day-by-day basis that the other gospel writers did not do.
The first day of Holy Week is Palm/Passion Sunday. If we have been a Christian for even a short while, we know the significance of Palm Sunday because of the issuance of palms to all who gather for worship on this very special day. We can recall the story of how Jesus rode into Jerusalem riding a donkey cheered by his peasant followers. Those who followed and surrounded him shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
On the opposite side of the city, was another procession led by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Idumea, Judea and Samaria. His purpose was to ensure that the Jews did not cause any trouble during Passover. Pilate came proclaiming the power of Rome. Jesus’s procession proclaimed the kingdom of God.
Please take time to read the entire story found in Mark 11:1-11.
On Monday, Jesus entered the temple and drove out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?” Please read Mark 12-19 for the full passage of scripture. A takeaway for me is from Mark 3:24-25, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” There are three possibilities for Jesus’ actions in the temple: (1) He may have been attacking the institution of blood sacrifice, (2) Possibly attacking the institution of priesthood, or (3) maybe Jesus is repudiating the temple (Borg and Crossan).
On Tuesday, we see Jesus’ authority being challenged. As He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. All that took place according to Mark on Tuesday may be found in Mark 11:27-13:37. Based on the length of the readings, we might surmise that Tuesday was a very busy day for Jesus.
It was on Wednesday that Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. When Judas told them of his plan, they were pleased and offered him money. Please read Mark 14: 1-11 for more details. We have no clear understanding as to why Judas betrayed Jesus, but what we do know is that the chief priests were pleased. In the passage of scripture, it does not say that Judas did it for money, but he was promised money. The climax of Judas’s betrayal is the fact that he was one of the twelve and he failed Jesus while in Jerusalem.
Thursday as Christians know it, is the observance of Maundy Thursday. Along with Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter, it is the best-known day of the Holy Week. On Thursday evening, Jesus eats his final supper with his disciples and prays for deliverance in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, denial by Peter, and abandoned by the rest of his disciples. Please read Mark 14: 12-16. The Passover meal, sedar, memorializes the first Passover and the exodus by bringing it into the present.
Friday of Holy Week is the day of Jesus’s crucifixion and is called Holy Friday, Good Friday or Easter Friday. Friday is the day Jesus is turned over to the imperial authorities and interrogated by Pilate. What we must remember more than anything else is that Jesus’ death was a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the world. Please read Mark 15: 1-21.
Interestingly enough, Mark says nothing about what was happening on Saturday.
Mark starts Sunday morning with the women who witnessed Jesus’ death and burial going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Long story short, once the women enter the tomb, they hear these words from a young man, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” Please read Mark 16: 1-8
The Good News we will hear on Sunday morning is, “He is risen!”
If you are interested in the details of Holy Week, I encourage you to purchase for your library the book, The Last Week written by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. It is truly worth the cost.
Not a sermon, just my thoughts!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor