The Passion of Christ: Palms of Welcome, the Passion of Suffering, the Pain of Crucifxion, and the Power of Resurrection
For believers, Christ crucified is both the power and wisdom of God. This is the period where followers of Jesus enter the high point of our spiritual formation in observance of the Church Year: our participation by faith in the Passion of our Lord.
Holy Week is the last week of the Lenten season. Beginning with our Palm Sunday Celebration, and through the various activities of the week, we join with believers worldwide to recall and be transformed by the story of Jesus of Nazareth–his trial, suffering, and death which occurred so many centuries ago in Jerusalem. The three days at the end of this week represent the most serious and solemn days of the Church calendar, focusing as they do on the events of Jesus’ final hours before his death on the Cross.
“In the ancient church the three days [of the Paschal Triduum] started on Thursday evening and ended with the great Paschal vigil of Saturday night. These services are called the Paschal Triduum [or, the Three Great Days] … They are the most holy, solemn, and serious days of the entire year. For in these days we experience and encounter our own destiny in the destiny of Christ ignominious death and burial and in his triumphant resurrection from the dead.” Robert Webber, Ancient Future Time. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004, p. 125.
During Holy Week we recall the events of our Lord’s trial, suffering, and death. We ponder with joy and anticipation his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, listen to his matchless teaching through the week, and huddle with his disciples in the Upper Room as he gives the new commandment of love on Maundy Thursday. We hang our heads in shame and regret as we recall his crucifixion on Good Friday, and finally we end the week with the solemn vigil of Saturday night (Holy Saturday) before Easter Sunday.
Holy Week Observances
Below is a short desription of some of the highlights of Holy Week we observe and celebrate this upcoming week:
Palm Sunday: The Sunday before Easter which commemorates the Triumphal Entry of Jesus of Nazareth into Jerusalem, his public proclamation of his identity as Messiah and Lord (John 12:12-18).
Maundy Thursday: The Thursday before Easter which commemorates the giving of the New Commandment and the Lord’s Supper prior to Christ’s Death (Mark 14:12-26; John 13). [From the Latin mandatum novarum which means “new commandment” (John 13:34)]
Good Friday: The Friday before Easter which commemorates the crucifixion of Christ (John 18-19). [Listen (video) to Dr. Davis teach our Good Friday service, and ponder the wonder of God’s love displayed on the Cross for our salvation.]
Holy Saturday: The day before Easter which commemorates the burial of Jesus before his resurrection on Sunday (John 18-19).
Again, Holy Week is Lent’s final week. As a season, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends Saturday of Holy Week, with a vigil on Holy Saturday. As a time of soul-searching and preparation in the ancient Church, so today we ought to let this week be our own personal journey to the Cross, spending time reflecting on the lowliness and humiliation of our Lord. Here we clearly see the meaning of our baptism in Christ-being united with him in his suffering, death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.
When We Survey the Wondrous Cross: Pondering the Passion of Jesus Christ
During Holy Week we invite you to join with us and the millions of disciples of Jesus worldwide who will remember and seek to be transformed by a fresh experience of the meaning of Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross. For those who believe, he is the slain Lamb of God who takes the world’s sin away (John 1.29), the triumphant Conqueror leading us in his triumph (2 Cor. 2.14), and the scorned Messiah who bore the curse for us on the Tree (Gal. 3.13). We seek to die daily with him in order that his life might be manifested in us (2 Cor. 4.10-11). He is Lord of all.
Come with us, and kneel at the Cross of him who alone can transform the lives of the millions languishing in oppression and poverty in the inner cities of America. He bids you to come.