Holy Week Meditations
Upper Room, Thursday at dinner, sometime before the betrayal and arrest of Jesus:
Jesus to his disciples: You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.
Peter: Even though they all fall away, I will not.
Jesus to Peter: Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.
High Priest Courtyard, late Thursday night,
Jesus faces false witnesses before the Jewish council:
Servant Girl to Peter: You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus. You are one of them.
Peter: I do not know this man of whom you speak.
Immediately the rooster crowed a second time.
This week begins a remembrance of the central events of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. We follow Jesus as he enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday with cheers of “Hosanna” to the betrayal of the crowd shouting, “Crucify Him!” One of his own, Judas, betrays him to the Jewish Council for pieces of silver and his hopes of a political revolution. As Jesus is arrested in the beautiful garden where they all have prayed, most of the rest run away afraid for their lives. Peter and John still follow behind at a distance and watch outside the trial proceedings. Peter is recognized as “being with Jesus.” Before I can judge him, I put myself in his sandals as he faces a hostile crowd looking for blood. And I feel the terror of my worst nightmare come true: the One you love has been taken. And now my life and all I believe is in danger.
REFLECT. For many who were raised as Christians, it has now become unpopular to be identified as a follower of Jesus Christ. Many might live a spiritual life, but prefer not to be religious or attend church. The most important Christian festivals, such as Easter and Christmas, have been replaced with the secular activities of our culture. This might describe you, or someone you love.
The betrayals of those closest to Jesus, did not stop his mission of love and sacrifice for them as he went to his death on the cross. And the disbelief of many did not prevent the stunning explosion of resurrected life on Easter Sunday morning for all. When his friends did come back together and heard the story, they reported: “He is not here, for he has risen as he said.”
This Easter is a holy season of redemption, restoration, and celebration of our Christian faith. Reflect on what disappointment and disbelief might have led to your own betrayals.
Consider spending this Easter in a community celebration or at an intentional time of family prayer and reading of the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Mary Magdalene, a woman transformed and empowered by Jesus, serves as an example to all who believe by declaring: I have seen the Lord!” Jesus said to Thomas after the resurrection: “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Let us look, see, touch, and believe, and begin to practice our faith with renewed zeal.
PRACTICE. A good listening and contemplative practice for this week is to read the passion narratives in all four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I offer this schedule for your personal and family readings:
Palm Sunday. Read Matthew 21:1-11; Psalm 118: 1-2,19-29; Philippians 2:5-11
Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey,Matthew 21:5
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.
Monday. Read Matthew 21-28. Isaiah 42:1-9.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought…he said to them, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.”Matthew 21:12-13
Tuesday. Read Mark 11-16. Read Isaiah 49:1-6.
Jesus said there is no greater commandment than these: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…and your neighbor as yourself.”Mark 12:30-31
Wednesday. Read Luke 19-24. Read Isaiah 50:4-9.
Passover drew near. And the chief priests and scribes were seeking how to put him to death. Judas conferred with them to betray Jesus.Luke 22:1-6
Thursday. Read Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23; John 13:1-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them and said, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And he took a cup, and said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the many.”
Friday. Read John 12-21. Read Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross to Golgotha. There they crucified him.John 19
RESOURCES. Click the buttons for more Holy Week Meditations:
Behold My Servant Holy Week Meditations on the Servant Songs in the Book of Isaiah:
Author Phyllis Clark Nichols offers a look at what Jesus was doing in real time during Holy Week:
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Your Holy Week guidance will be/is a real guidance. Others will benefit. Blessings on your work. JAne