It all began with such great promise. Crowds gathered to welcome him into the city of God. His ride through the streets on a donkey was like Jesus was sitting on top of a parade float, with palm branches, the ticker-tape of the day, tossed toward him in adulation, and in honor of the great expectations accompanying his arrival. The world was about to change, and Jesus was taking a victory lap.
Or so it seemed.
Jesus had led a movement which started with an inner circle of twelve ordinary men, supported by the gifts of a number of incredibly brave women and one which picked up momentum with every village visited, every miracle performed, every malady healed and every proclamation of the coming Kingdom of God along the way. Just days earlier, Jesus did the unbelievable – he raised a man from a tomb who had been dead for several days.
Word spread of these mighty acts, and now he was coming to the big city. Jesus was the Messiah, the anointed one, the one promised and now sent by God to restore Israel to its former glory. Jerusalem would once again be the place where God dwelt. The oppressive and brutal Romans would be thrown out, the corrupt Herodians toppled from their puppet thrones, and God, and not the Pharisees would be the center of religious life. Jesus was going to do all that! Jesus would be their new king.
But, if we learned anything from Jesus, we know that our ways are not God’s ways. And Jesus came to town to do God’s will and not ours. As he had said to his disciples so many times before, Jesus’ destiny was not a throne, but a tomb. Jesus didn’t come to usurp the deeply embedded power structures and start some holy war. Jesus came to Jerusalem to die. His mind was set on the cross – the brutal, public and humiliating form of execution employed by the Roman occupiers. That was how Jesus was going to change the world – by suffering and dying.
And so it begins, the week that changed the world. A week of opposites. One that began with a bang and ended with a whimper. One where the tragic becomes the happy ending. One where death becomes the beginning instead of the ending. A week of love emerging from hatred. A week set apart from all others.
A week that we call Holy.
Devotions for Holy Week
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.