I love this time of year when the Earth renews itself by sprouting forth flowers and grass. A time when the animals reappear in abundance after a long winter rest, when a sunrise symbolizes new birth. As we prepare for Easter Sunday, I would like to share some thoughts on Holy Week. I have shared these thoughts before, but this is the first time I have compiled them into a single place. I want my family to know that each day of the coming week is significant. We shouldn’t celebrate Easter by itself, rather, we should recognize each day for what the Savior taught us.
Sunday – On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was welcomed by his followers who covered the path before him with palm fronds and cried “Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel” (John 12:13). He was welcomed as a King..someone who would deliver the Israelites from the burdens of Roman rule. The people were excited to see him! I learned recently that the word “Hosanna” comes from the Hebrew words “hoshi” and “ahna”. Literally translated “Hosanna” means “save us now”. The people were excited because they were welcoming their Deliverer from Roman rule. Little did they understand that deliverance from Roman rule would come in the next life through the Atonement of Christ.
May we welcome Christ into our hearts and lives with excitement and honor.
Monday – Today, the Savior went to the Temple and removed the money changes. Why were the money changers in the Temple in the first place? There was a requirement to pay a Temple tax of 1/2 shekel per annum (Exodus 30:13, Matthew 17:24-27). Unfortunately, the Jewish shekel wasn’t in circulation, so people would bring their Roman coins to the Temple and exchange them for Jewish shekels in order to pay the Temple tax. Over time, this evolved into a full-fledged market…with all the noise, bustle, and filth associated with market places. His act of cleansing the Temple of the money changers (Matthew 21:12-13, John 2:13-16) inspires me because he was so deliberate, so calm, so controlled. Too often, when we see things that anger us, we fail to channel that anger into a righteous response.
It’s ok to be angry; however, it is not ok to lose control.
Tuesday – Now that the Savior has entered Jerusalem, the Scribes begin to get nervous and question his authority. Unfortunately for them, they are unable to answer his question regarding baptism and are therefore denied an answer to the source of his authority (Matthew 21:23-27). I can imagine how confused they must have been when the Savior began telling parables which, to the natural man, are just stories.
How often do we question the authority of Jesus Christ? How often do we feel that our problems, our situation, our lives are “more complicated” than others. How often do we feel that “it’s different with me”?
The Son of God knows us all. The Son of God is the Savior for all. There is none on Earth who are so different, so troubled, or so destitute, that he can’t redeem.
Wednesday – It isn’t clearly recorded in the Bible what the Savior did on Wednesday. I believe he continued teaching his disciples. One of my favorite parables is the Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31-46). It reminds me that I can’t put off serving until I see the Savior, for when I serve (or fail to serve) those I interact with every day, it is the same as if I served (or didn’t serve) the Master himself (see Mosiah 2:17).
I remember being approached by a beggar in front of Notre Dame many years ago. She asked me if I spoke English…and to my shame, I said no and walked on. Every time I see a beggar, I see that woman’s face and regret my response so long ago. I think that motivates me today to try and serve those around me. I still am not perfect, there are (many) times I fall short, but I hope my efforts are acceptable.
Jesus Christ taught beautifully and simply. All we need to do is listen to the Spirit and we can understand the parables and see the pathway back to our Father’s house. As I study the words of Christ and apply the parables to my own life, I feel closer to the Savior. He loves us, he wants us to do good. Nothing is hidden, there are no secrets to Eternal Life.
His life is an Open Book…pick it up, read it, ponder it, then go and do something about it.
Thursday – Today is a great and terrible day in the life of the Savior. He gathered his disciples in a borrowed room (Matthew 26:17-18) and celebrated the Passover. Here he broke the bread, blessed it and told his disciples “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). Likewise he took the cup of wine, blessed it and told his disciples “this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). I can imagine the furrowed brows and confused looks from his disciples as they ate and drank.
After the Passover meal, the scriptures tell us they sang a hymn (Matthew 26:30). I love this verse for music is a blessing in my life–it is the one thing that will almost always calm my son when he’s troubled. I like to think that the hymn Christ sang with his disciples calmed his soul and gave him encouragement for the next event of the night…the agony of Gethsemane.
When they arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ left his disciples near the gate, then he went alone into the Garden and prayed. I cannot imagine what he felt and endured as he suffered for the sins of all mankind. Not just our sins, but our sorrows and griefs as well. So great was his agony that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Then, when had finished the work in the Garden, he was betrayed by Judas to a band of soldiers.
The question is: how many drops of blood were shed for me?
Friday – Today is a dark day. Having suffered through the Agony of Gethsemane just a few hours ago, the Savior is brought before Annas, Caiaphas, and finally to Pontius Pilate. This man had the power to free the Savior (and was even encouraged to do so by his wife), but he was weak and gave in to the cries of the crowd: “Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21). Through all this, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Savior of Mankind was questioned, scourged, spit upon, and mocked with a crown of thorns. The one line that really impacts me is “he held his peace” (Mark 14:61). Knowing he was right, knowing what his mission was, he could have called down legions of angels to defeat his antagonists (Matthew 26:53), but he didn’t. He Held His Peace.
After all this suffering, he was paraded through narrow, crowded streets to Golgotha and there was crucified.
It amazes me that even while hanging on the cross, Jesus Christ forgave his crucifiers. He comforted the thieves beside him. He lovingly ensured his mother would be taken care of. Am I as forgiving, comforting, and loving?
Then the Son of God died. His spirit left his body and his body was placed in a borrowed tomb. In life and in death, he had no place to call his own.
His disciples were told very clearly before his death that he would rise again, but I wonder if they knew what that really meant. Can you imagine the tears that were shed for this sinless man?
Even the heavens wept at his death. This is surely the darkest day in the history of mankind.
Saturday – Today saw the sun rise to a world in mourning. Jesus Christ died yesterday afternoon. Being the Sabbath, nothing is done with his body today…just weeping and mourning. So what of the Savior on this day? Peter tells us that Christ went to the spirits and taught his gospel (1 Peter 3:18-20).
There are many websites that discuss what this really means. I believe he went to the spirit world and taught those spirits who knew not his gospel. I believe he organized teachers in that realm to continue the work after he ascended to heaven (for certainly there are souls that continue to die not having tasted of the love of Christ).
This is a day to to remember the words of the psalmist: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10).
Sunday – Oh Glorious Day! When Mary went to the sepulcher this morning, she found the stone removed from the doorway and no body in the tomb! When asked who she was looking for, her reply brought the statement from the angels “why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, he is risen!” (Luke 24:5-6). As dark as was the night he died, how bright the morn’ when he arose. My heart is full of joy in knowing that the Son of God conquered all. The Savior of the World broke the shackles of death—death has no sting. Jesus Christ lives! He paid the awful price for our sins and now sits in glory ready to welcome us home to our Father’s mansion.
Christ the Lord is Risen today! Praise the Lord!