Home » Headline, Insight

Christians prepare for a spiritual rollercoaster

April 15, 2011 One Comment

by Jacob Quast 

Sunday marks the beginning of the most holy week for Christians in which we receive constant reminders of our Lord Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection to redeem us from all sin, death, and hell. 

Ironically, the week begins with a triumphal procession. Our Lord enters Jerusalem, the holy city of the people of Israel—the place where He had always promised to be with His people. Now, in fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 3:15, God comes in the flesh to be with His people and complete His work of salvation for the sins of the world. He comes as the King of kings and Lord of lords!

Jesus enters royally, for the scripture tells about the kings of Israel riding beasts of burden (see 1 Kings 1:32-40). However, in Jesus’ day, kings rode horses. This was especially true for the Roman Caesars who, after a military victory, would often ride through the city on a horse basking in the praise of the gathered people. 

Jesus entered Jerusalem to the cheers and praise of the crowds, ascribing to Him messianic titles from the Hallel Psalms (113-118), but He comes in humility—riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, fulfilling a 500-year-old prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). The people of Jerusalem saw Jesus as a king, but they (along with His own disciples) expected Him to inaugurate an earthly kingdom.

Jesus, however, came with a much greater purpose—to die for the sins of the world—offering His own flesh as the ultimate sacrifice to God—on the place where God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22). But instead, the Lord provided a ram.  God spared Abraham’s son, He would not spare His own, but instead sending Him to the cross and the grave to take your place—suffering and dying to take away the sins of humanity.

When we celebrate with joy this Sunday of the Passion, we do so with restraint because we know the joy and cheers will soon vanish in the cries of agony and suffering our Lord Jesus will endure on our behalf. His triumphant entry galvanized His opponents into plotting and carrying out His death. Jesus enters boldly—knowing what awaits Him—but willingly out of love for you.

Jesus will receive a crown in splendour and glory, but not in the way the world expects.  Rather, He receives a crown of thorns pressed deeply into His brow. Nails will pierce His hands and feet, as He is executed on the cross in shame and weakness—carrying in His flesh the open wounds from a whipping that would heal our wounds. Look at His glory! There is your King! He brought you victory over your greatest enemies of sin, death, and hell—not with clever tactics or eloquent words or exotic weapons, but with His own suffering and death. 

One week later, He would rise from death in true victory and glory, proving His triumph for you and all people. For this reason on Palm Sunday we shout and pray—“Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

Rev. Jacob Quast is pastor of Church of the Lutheran Hour in Fort Frances, Ontario. 

  • cassa

    Rollercoaster is an excellent way to describe the variety of emotions one goes through during Holy Week, particularly through Maundy Thursday and Tenebrae Friday night.

    Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (especially Tenebrae) are very intense worship services and it can be very hard to hear the strong Law-based preaching that rings forth, combined with the Reproaches, “What have I done to you and wherein have I offended you? ANSWER ME!”. Even when we are pointed toward the ‘end of the story’ that will come Sunday morning, the preaching and general mood of Good Friday almost gives the feeling that a Heavenly finger is being pointed at me, saying, “Look what you’ve done!”.

    I have taken part in the Stripping of the Altar the past several years. The first time I was part of this, I was handed the processional cross to take away. I hadn’t realized how heavy it was and as it was handed to me, the weight startled me-not only the weight in my hands, but also the weight I suddenly felt inside. As I looked up at the processional cross I was holding, I also caught sight of the giant cross that sits in our chancel during Holy Week and I suddenly wanted to burst into tears. My mind had only one thought: “What have I done?”.

    My reaction during the altar stripping isn’t as strong now as it was that first time, but when I’m handed the first item to take away, I do feel a weight inside, pressing down on me-I know what happened that first Thursday night in the Garden and I know that it had to happen because of me and my sin.

    Still, as emotionally trying as the services are and despite the painful weight I feel inside from the full knowledge of my sin and the suffering and pain it caused Christ, having gone through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday makes Easter all the more joyous than going directly from the “Hosanna” of Palm Sunday directly to “He is Risen!”.