As we look back at that final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we can just imagine the energy in the crowd as he came into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey while crowds cheered and waved palm branches.
But how swiftly the public tide can turn. Within days, Jesus would hold his final meal with the 12 disciples as religious leaders plotted his arrest and death. Knowing what was ahead, imagine the agony and loneliness he felt as he prayed for God to deliver him from his destiny.
By the end of the week, he stood beaten, battered and half dead as a death sentence was delivered. Barely able to stand, the son of God staggered through the streets of Jerusalem with a heavy cross on his back. The same people who cheered and adored him just days earlier were now cursing him and demanding his crucifixion.
Holy Week is much more than the affirmation of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. In many ways, it is a narrative for the human race. Within a few short days, shouts of adoration and praise were replaced by hatred and violence. We find ourselves today in a world dealing with the same issues.
Ukraine remains a shattered country as the Russian military continues to mercilessly destroy cities and murder innocent people because they think and feel differently. Millions continue to seek refuge from the war. More than 13 million people remain displaced in Syria as its nine-year conflict continues. Immigrants crowd our southern border in an attempt to escape the violence and deaths in their own countries. They come to us in hopes of providing peace and a future for their families, only to be met with a closed door and a broken path to citizenship. These scenarios continue to be repeated throughout the world.
We have entered a new era in our country where the Christian population continues to shrink. Our government leaders are at opposite ends of the spectrum and a means of compromise or seeing the otherness of others is not tolerated.
We’re coming out of the worst health crisis we have ever seen and yet the value of human lives and doing what is necessary to protect each other takes a back seat to profit and power. I can imagine Christ still praying as he did the night before his crucifixion, asking for mercy upon the people.
In this holiest of weeks, we must once again turn our eyes to the One who gave all. Everything we have faced, from despair, loneliness, rejection — he felt them first. God the Creator, in human form, experienced the worst. Yet, in his worst time, that sacrifice gave us hope, joy and eternal life.
In your communities, your church, your home, find that place of solitude this week. Wipe everything from your mind and heart and pray to the Almighty God for hope, faith, forgiveness.
May we see God in everything we do and seek the wisdom that only the Creator can provide.
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)