Easter week has always been a time of intense reflection for me.
From Palm Sunday and visions of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey to the Last Supper coinciding with Passover, his disciples falling asleep when he needed them most, the betrayal by his friend Judas, the trial, to his crucifixion and death, the Temple veil being torn in two, and Jesus’ glorious resurrection.
Without the events of Easter, Jesus’ birth would be just another day.
Jesus led a life of service to others.
He didn’t demand the best of everything.
No fancy chariots, clothing, or designer sandals.
Although he was the Son of G-d he lived on earth in a human body.
Jesus taught lessons and performed miracles – just doing what came naturally in his life of service.
Jesus was Humble
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”– Zechariah 9:9
He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to shouts of Hosanna!
I can imagine being there in the dusty streets and getting caught up in the excitement! I would have found a palm leaf and waved it singing and shouting Hosanna. The excitement in the air must have been palpable. The disciples may have thought that their troubles were over and Jesus was going to be King.
But a donkey, can you imagine?
The Son of G-d and future King riding into town on the back of a donkey and not in a gilded chariot or being carried in?
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, like a regular person.
He didn’t ask for the fuss.
He was humble.
“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!'”– John 12:12-13
Jesus Served His Friends
3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.– John 13: 3-5
During His Last Supper He washed the feet of his disciples – all of them. Including Judas.
Even though He knew that Judas was His betrayer, Jesus still served him.
11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”– John 13: 11
Jesus was Deserted by His Closest Friends.
His disciples fell asleep when he needed them most.
Jesus asked them to stand watch with him, but returned to find them sleeping.
Not just once, but three times.
He was grieving over what was to come, and they let him down.
Anyone who has experienced grief can relate to these feelings of being utterly alone and let down by the people they depend on.
39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. 40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. 46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”Luke 22: 39-45
41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”Mark 14: 41
Jesus was Betrayed by a Friend
“Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?””Luke 22: 47-48
I have been betrayed by those I thought were friends.
Learned of horrible words spoken behind my back.
Faced disappointment when plans were made and broken with not even a phone call to cancel.
I know what it’s like to feel as though people are avoiding me because I’m still sad or not ‘getting over things’ as fast as they think I should. Was even told (early on) that it was time to put it behind me and move on… by a ‘friend’… like that’s even possible.
I was betrayed by an abusive spouse who had an affair.
I have been betrayed by coworkers, by the government, by a dishonest accountant, by any number of people whom I thought I could trust.
These betrayals didn’t lead to my death, but were betrayals nonetheless.
Jesus was Tried, Crucified, and Died
Jesus was taken to not one ruler, but two.
He was tried by his peers to shouts of “Crucify Him” and endured the most horrendous death imaginable with a mocking crown of thorns on his head and a plaque above that read “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Everyone who put their faith and trust in Jesus had to have been crushed. Despondent. Their leader, friend, teacher, the man they followed and believed in, loved, just died the most gruesome death.
The Temple Veil was Torn in Two
33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”
37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”Mark 15: 33-39
What is the meaning of the Temple veil being torn in two?
Does it mean that at the time of Jesus’ death, man was no longer separated from G-d as I was always taught?
I suppose in a way. I recently read a different point of view:
Chad Bird states “The veil was not torn to let us in but to let God out.”
Think of that for a moment. What a concept.
Before the veil was torn, G-d was in one place – the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
The High Priest was the only person who could go past the veil and therefore, access G-d.
Bird goes on to explain: After the veil was torn G-d “.. brings [His holiness] to us: Jews and Gentiles, men and women, old and young. He’s profligate with His holiness, throwing it here and there as if He can’t get rid of it fast enough. He’s not like some miser who growls at people as they come groveling for holiness. He runs at them and presses it into their hands.”
All we have to do is accept…
Jesus was Buried
42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.Mark 15: 42-45
Joseph of Arimathea donated his newly hewn family tomb to Jesus.
This was a detail often left out or misunderstood. A big deal. Doing so meant that nobody in Joseph’s family could be buried there. Tombs are for family only.
39And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.John 19: 39-42
Body preparation is a big deal as well. In Jesus’ time, bodies were wrapped in cloth with spices to lie there for a year. Apparently, Nicodemus didn’t know what was going to happen because Jesus’ body was prepared with an excessive amount of spices. Most deceased individuals were prepared with about a pound of spices.
At the end of one year, after decomposition took place, the bones were placed in a stone or ceramic ossuary to make room in the tomb for more family members.
No embalming is tradition (even in the 21st century).
Jesus Claimed Victory Over Death
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb… 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”– Luke 24: 1-7
Jesus, the Son of G-d rose from the dead.
By doing so, he took on the sins of all and became our redeemer.
G-d gave us the greatest gift of all, H-s Son.
Do You Believe this Fantastic Story?
It’s all there in the Bible, in many commentaries from Theologians smarter than I.
However, my thoughts have always been if the Resurrection of Jesus were not true, why would Jesus’ Apostles risk life and limb to spread the news.
According to many texts all but one who witnessed the resurrection were martyred for spreading the news.
In the end, the choice belongs to each one of us.
Are You Ready?
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.John 3: 16-17
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.“John 14: 1-6
Follow this link if you are ready to put your trust in Jesus: