Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love Holy Week; I just don’t love “Holy Week.” Perhaps as a shorthand way of delineating these few days those words are ok, but though I love this season I don’t particularly like the term. It sounds like something separate from life, a sanitized compartment that is either hard to partake of or packaged in religious rituals.

This season is so rich with meaning and impact that we will be celebrating it for eternity! And a few words here can never fully explain the richness of what Jesus accomplished. But allow me to offer some ideas to include in your contemplation over the next few days.

The first Holy Week was unbelievably unholy.

Consider a few of the happenings during that week 2000 years ago:

  • The narcissistic bureaucratic authorities had turned the place where God was to be worshiped into “a den of thieves,” which Jesus had to confront. (Mark 11:17)
  • Passover, which God instituted to portray the coming of Jesus, was now a commercialized institutionalized ritual.
  • Jesus’ very best friends let Him down when He needed them the most.
  • And most of all, the powers of darkness, evil itself, controlled men’s minds to arrest, condemn, and murder the “Just One” (Acts 22:14).

That’s anything but holy!

Where is there something of that unholiness in or around you? Where have you allowed idols of power, money, or other evils to go unchecked in your life? Have you let down those close to you in the places where they most needed you? Where have you been let down? What havoc has evil wrought in your life or in the lives of those close to you, perhaps especially in the area of sexuality, relationships, and intimacy?

We can only fully rejoice and receive Easter when we look fully at Good Friday. Jesus did not shy away from or minimize evil on His way to glory; His path was right through the middle of the mess. And ours will be too.

Jesus’ Death and Resurrection speak to our Bodies.

Jesus entered right into our material embodied existence, living the same embodied life we live. He didn’t remove Himself from the blood, sweat, and tears of the real world we live in. By taking on a fully human form (Philippians 2:5-8) He forever changed the meaning of our human bodies.

And come Easter morning, that meaning becomes transformed forever. When Jesus’ friends came to the tomb on Sunday morning, His body was not there. Jesus did not leave His physical body and enter some immaterial spiritual experience; His very material body was resurrected, changed, glorified.

And the tomb is still empty!

What does that say about your body and mine? Because Jesus went first, our bodies too can be sanctified, glorified, transformed. That’s the goal of the Holy Spirit making His temple in our bodies! (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) And Paul puts that truth directly in the context of how we handle our sexuality. This elevates the body more than most of us understand.

Your body matters.

Jesus didn’t eliminate the grave; He transformed it.

Jesus didn’t conquer death and the grave by sidestepping it or making it go away. Instead, He totally transformed the tomb by coming through it to glory. The gospel of John in particular highlights that through His suffering Jesus was glorified (John 12:23 and others). The very thing evil meant to use to imprison Him became the gateway through which He brought life to many.

Christians often pray for God to change their circumstances. Sometimes He does! But as illustrated by Jesus’ passage through and transformation of the tomb, God’s usual way of working is to change the meaning of our circumstances and to change us in the process.

What do you wish God would change? Perhaps it’s your singleness, a troubled marriage, health challenges, financial pressures, grief and loss, mental struggles, rejection by others, or any number of other issues. How would it change things if you sought to understand how God might be changing you more than your circumstances?

Sunday’s Coming!

As you celebrate this Easter, let the reality of that first (un)Holy Week penetrate your soul in a new way. Give Jesus through His Holy Spirit the invitation to transform the parts of you that need His life.

Every year I celebrate my spiritual birthday on Good Friday – the day when, years ago, I truly met Jesus as a Person, and He changed my life. How has He changed yours? And where do you still need Him to continue His work?

Happy Easter!

Your Turn: How are you experiencing Holy Week this year? What new meaning do you sense Jesus bringing to your understanding?  Leave a comment below.

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  • Although I absolutely LOVE Holy Week, I think the term misses the depths of evil the first “holy week” demonstrated, and the glorious freedom Jesus accomplished and invites us into.   Tweet that.

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