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The holy week: The lord showed the way

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Princewill O. Ireoba

Palm Sunday (today) is the Sunday which commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and begins the Holy Week, the last and most important week of the Lord Jesus on earth in which He accomplished His purpose of coming to the earth and showed us the way to exaltation and glory — the Way of the Cross, the way of humility and self-emptying.

This final week of Jesus’ life is so important that the Gospels give a disproportionate amount of space to it. Jesus lived on earth for about 33 years, and His active ministry occupied 3 of those years. Yet, the Gospels focus their attention on the final 8 days. Taken together, there are 89 chapters in the Gospels, but 291/2 of those recount what happened between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

Jesus Christ came down from heaven for a mission. He is actually God Himself, but it is never in His character to show off. Rather, He always meets the people where they are.

Just as He came to the earth by a humble birth in a stable, so He also now chose to make His entrance into Jerusalem, not on a warhorse, but on a donkey, a lowly animal of peace. He is the Humble King: Indeed, the epitome of humility.

The Epistle for the day (Phil. 2:5-11) is a call to Christians to develop the attitude of the self-sacrificing humility of Jesus Christ, Who instead of holding on to His divinity and greatness, emptied Himself (kenosis) by wilfully laying aside the glory, privileges and appurtenances of being God and opted for debasement of not only becoming man but more so, going through humiliating suffering and shameful death on a cross.

It was in His humility that He was highly exalted. So, it should also be for Christians. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who was executed by the Nazis, in his the Cost of Discipleship draws our attention to Jesus’ radical call to servanthood: “When Jesus bids a man come, He bids him come and die.”

The Holy week is also known as the Passion Week (derived from the Latin word for suffering and from which also the English word for patient is derived). Hence, focus of the week is the patient suffering and death of Jesus, which started with the events of the Thursday (called Maundy Thursday), when He was arrested after the Last Supper and the travail of Gethsemane and culminated in His Crucifixion on Friday (called Good Friday).

The Gospel accounts do not pay special attention to the events of the days between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday. Hence, their chronological order is not very clear. But the following activities of the Lord are associated/marked with the period.

Monday:  Cursing of Fig tree, Cleansing of Temple.

Tuesday: Confrontation by the Temple leadership and challenge of Jesus’ authority; Extensive Teaching/Parables – Vineyard, Wedding Banquet, Paying taxes, Resurrection and Olivet Discourse (an elaborate prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age).

Wednesday (Traditionally called “Spy Wednesday” because that was when Judas conspired to hand Jesus over). The day featured anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany, which resulted in, and preceded the betrayal by Judas to the Sanhedrin.

Jesus really went through an intense suffering to accomplish His ministry for our salvation and lead us to eternal life. He was arrested and subjected to several sham trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod.

He was scourged by the Roman soldiers and forced to carry His Cross through the streets of Jerusalem along what is known as the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows).

Ultimately, He was crucified at Golgotha on Friday, buried and remained in the tomb until Sunday, and then gloriously resurrected. That is the way that He showed: The way to glory and eternal life, through humiliation, suffering and death.

Ven. Dr Princewill O. Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
www.ibrucentre.org

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The holy week
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