How many Holy Weeks can you remember? From your childhood to today, how many times can you remember gathering together with your brothers and sisters in Christ to worship Him and remember His Passion? More than you can count? Every year since Christ ascended into heaven, His Church has gathered to remember what He did, how He suffered, and that He has won the victory over sin and death and the devil.
Remembering the victory of Jesus on the cross and at His resurrection is at the heart of the Christian life. We remember His victory every day when we remember we were baptized into His death (Romans 6). We remember His victory every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We hear the Words of Institution and are brought back to the night on which He was betrayed. He gives us His body and blood, under the bread and wine, and we are told to eat and drink, “In remembrance of Me.” We eat and drink remembering that Jesus shed His blood and died, paying for our sins. He truly gave us Himself in this feast, and along with Him comes the forgiveness of sins and every blessing of life and salvation. Thanks be to God!
Dear friends, as you come to church this Holy Week, remember Jesus, and how He has saved you.
Remembering Jesus in Holy Week
When you come to church Palm Sunday, remember how the crowds worshipped Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. They praised Him crying, “Hosanna,” which means, “Lord, save us!” They knew that He was the King of Israel, and that He would deliver His people. On Palm Sunday, when you kneel for Holy Communion, pray “Hosanna!” to Jesus. Come to Him at the altar, as the crowds came to Him at the city gate. And as you pray, “Lord, save us,” then eat and drink and know that He gives you His body and blood, given and shed on the cross, to do just that: Save you.
When you come to church Maundy Thursday, remember how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. He washed them clean as a sign of how He would die on the cross to wash them of all their sins. Remember as you hear the absolution spoken to you in the service, that the blood of Jesus washes you of your sins. You cannot cleanse yourself. Waste not the futile effort to try to do so. Come quickly to Christ, for He alone can cleanse you. This gift of washing was given you in Holy Baptism where Christ joined you to Himself as He died and rose for you.
When you come to church Good Friday, remember how many times you have slept in laziness, rather than come to hear the Word of God. Remember how many times you could have witnessed for Christ, but rather denied Him both by what you said and did. Remember how your careless words and cruel deeds have hurled insults at Him on the cross, as you insulted the people on earth for whom He died. Remember, and repent. Come to Him for mercy. For the blood that flowed, flowed to save you. He can wash you clean. He can forgive you and give you peace. He speaks to you from that brutal cross, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” And you are with Him in peace, and He will take you home at the right time.
When you come to church for Easter Vigil, remember that you gather in hope. Christ had predicted He would die, but He also predicted that on the third day He would rise again. Gather in silence. Gather in hope. Hear the words of the prophets as they speak the promise of the Messiah. Pray altogether to Christ, as the Church has done from the beginning. Wait for the proclamation that Christ is risen from the dead. And then… rejoice! Sing praise to Christ with the saints and angels. Tell in your praise that He lives! Rejoice that Jesus has defeated Satan and rescued His people. Come again and have communion and remember the words of Jesus as He died: “It is finished.” Your sins are paid for!
As you come to church on Easter, your celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is colored in great beauty by the sweet gospel you have heard through the week. As the women come to the tomb in the morning, wondering who will roll away the stone, you know the answer! As Peter and John run to the tomb and wonder where the body of Jesus is, you know the answer! As Mary weeps outside the tomb, and mistakes Jesus for the gardener, you know who it is that speaks her name! As the disciples wait in the upper room with the doors locked in great fear, you know that Jesus comes in without hindrance. The tomb and the stone could not hold Him back, much less a wooden door! You know what He will say to the men who slept and ran away and denied Him. You know, for He has spoken the same words to you! Peace be with you! Your sins are just as real as the ones they committed during that holy week. But the peace He spoke to them, He also speaks to you. It is real, it is free, and it is so, so sweet. Jesus won peace for you with the Father, when He died and rose for you. He gave that peace to you when you were baptized. He gave that peace to you when you heard His Word of grace. He gives that peace to you as you eat and drink at His Holy Supper. He gives you His peace in these blessed ways that He Himself chose.
How many Holy Weeks can you remember? Dear friends, there is always room for another. One more opportunity to gather with the brothers and sisters and hear of what Christ did that day He died, once for all. May this Holy Week be especially beautiful and peaceful for us all as we hear the Gospel again and again.