This is without a doubt the most unique Holy Week that each of us have experienced. Personally, I haven’t dealt with much fear and anxiety over the global pandemic up to this point. What I am beginning to experience, however, is grief. I grieve over those whose health is affected by the virus; I grieve the burden that many local business owner are experiencing and the concerns they have for providing for their families in the months to come; I grieve not seeing my family and friends. Not to mention the fact that this Easter, The Well planned to celebrate our first baptisms (this one really hits home right now).
Though I certainly wish the circumstances were different, grief is actually an appropriate emotion to feel as we reflect on Holy Week.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, people gathered in great anticipation and excitement of his arrival. It was long expected that God would send them a king—a king whose rule would overthrow Rome and make the world right again. But their king did not come with his large cavalry. He did not come in a militant fashion at all. Instead, he enters the city riding on a donkey, rather an animal of war. What the crowd witnessed was the arrival of peace; they in fact witnessed the Prince of Peace that would heal a broken and desperate world.
Good Friday can be a mixed bag of emotions for the church today. Being on this side of the resurrection, we know that Sunday reminds us of that great hope that God isn’t done fulfilling his promises. But for a moment, I would like us to pause and place ourselves in the shoes of Jesus’ disciples that watched him suffer such a gruesome death. Everything they believed about him was brought into question. What kind of messiah comes to suffer and die?
The Mission of the Church
The mission of Jesus was clear from the beginning. In his first recorded sermon in the synagogue, Jesus read to the people from the prophet Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
Instead of ruling over others, Jesus chose to serve. When he could have called people of great talent and influence to surround him, he associated with the lowly. On this Good Friday, we are reminded not only of the compromise in our physical health, but also in our spiritual health. This grief that we experience makes us more aware of the grief and despair that Jesus carried on our behalf. Today should be a reminder of the mission of the church and our role in God’s work to reconcile all things to himself. We should actively bring good news to the poor and providing for their needs; we should minister to the prisoner, praying not only for their redemption in our world but also that they would be set free from their bondage of sin; we should pray for the physical healing of the blind and pray for those who are spiritually blind that they might see the truth of the gospel; we should actively seek to show the Lord’s favor by defending those who are oppressed.
We absolutely look towards the reality of the resurrection, but let us not forget to reflect our own grief that Jesus bore on the cross and the brokenness of a world that waits for its full restoration.