(This column originally appeared in LNP | LancasterOnline on April 2, 2023.)
This is the beginning of Holy Week when Christians consider the events leading to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a time to remember and reflect on Jesus as king, suffering servant, loving servant and savior, and to renew our joy, hope and commitment to follow him with willing and thankful hearts.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus, mounted humbly on a donkey, rode into Jerusalem. Crowds of children and adults praised him shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13). They recognized Jesus as the king whom Zechariah prophesied hundreds of years before: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
Unlike all other kings, Jesus was the King of kings, the long-expected Messiah. His reign was not geopolitical, and he came not to deliver his people from foreign enemies as they expected. No, this King came to deliver his people from sin and death, and to bring about an eternal reign of peace in true reconciliation with God.
As Holy Week unfolds, Jesus remains unwavering in his mission. Each day brought him closer to the day when he would defeat Satan, the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), by taking upon himself the judgment for sin that we justly deserve. He would not do this on a war horse with great armies, but by emptying himself of his glory and taking the form of a servant, becoming obedient even to death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-11). Continue reading…