I have written extensively on Holy Week elsewhere. I have, however, never taken the time to introduce the life-changing possibilities that are given to us because of this week.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday. I wrote a little about Palm Sunday in my article on Lent. Palm Sunday is the remembrance of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he is praised and palm branches are spread on the road before him and waived in the air around him. This is a King’s entrance into a city even if that king is riding on the back of a donkey.
We know from scripture that many things occur during this week. Jesus cleanses the temple from money changers and teaches openly in the temple. We know that the Jewish leaders form their plot against Jesus and we know that Judas Iscariot agrees to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. With that background, we come to Holy Thursday.
Holy Thursday has two significant events. Or maybe three, the last supper, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, and then his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane.
The Last Supper is the time that Jesus is the most intimate with his disciples and gives them his last instructions. Hel also gives instructions for those who would believe in him because of the disciple’s word. He wants his church to be one.
The Church being one is something Christians have struggled with since the reformation 500 years ago. The Church is not one. It is splintered into denominations and sub denominations all believing that they have the correct view of the teachings of Jesus and the writers of The New Testament. This is much to our shame. We all live in the same house but we divide ourselves into separate rooms rarely venturing into the other rooms. It will be a great day when Jesus comes back and reunites us all again.
Holy Communion is established during The Last Supper. Jesus took bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, “Take and eat this is my body,” He then took a cup of wine and blessed it and sent it around to his disciples and said, “this is my blood.” This was to begin to make the disciples understand what was about to happen. Jesus’ betrayal, an unjust trial, a whipping or a scrouging, and his death on the cross. Holy Communion is a reminder of all those things to all Christians no matter their denomination.
After the supper is over Jesus takes his disciples to a garden on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem it is there that he prays to God that the events that are about to unfold could be passed on but he ends with “Thy will not mine be done.” Judas then arrives with other men to arrest Jesus. He betrays Jesus with a kiss and Jesus is led away. Hid disciples scatter.
The illegal trial l being held in the dead of night is slow going. No witnesses can agree. Caiphas, The High Priest, eventually asks Jesus if He, Jesus, is the son of God, Jesus responds “I am.” This is all the disbelieving religious rulers of Jersusalem need to hear. Caiphas proclaims blasphemy and hopes for Jesus’ death but that decision is not his to make. Israel is held by the Roman Empire and only the Roman Governor can sentence anyone to death. So Jesus now Jesus is brought to the Roman Quarters to find his fate which would be decided by Pontius Pilate.
Pilate can find nothing legally wrong with Jesus. Not by Roman law. Hoping to appease the Jews Pilate has him scrouged. This is a whipping but the whip is made up of several leather cords. Each cord has bits of metal and bone tied into it. With every lash pieces of Jesus’ back start to rip off slowly exposing the muscles as his skin is shredded. There is a belief that Jesus received only 49 lashes as Jewish law permitted fifty and the Jews stopped at 49 to not break the law. This beating, however, was done by Romans who had no reason to obey Jewish law. The number of lashes could have been less or more.
Jesus then appears before Pilate again and Pilate offers to set Jesus free but the Jews would have none of it shouting at the governor to crucify Jesus. Usually a scrouging was enough. But these people wanted blood. When the Jews brought Caesar’s name into it saying that if Pilate did not have Jesus crucified he would be no friend to Ceasar. Pilate had no choice it was between this man and being reported to the emperor. Pilate washed his hands to show he had no desire to kill Jesus. He then sent him to be crucified.
Crucifixion was a horrible way to die. First Jesus was forced to carry the crossbeam to the place of crucifixion. He was too weak to do this by himself due to the loss of blood and Simon was forced to help him. When they got to the destination the beam was flung to the ground. Jesus was roughly pushed to the ground as well and his hands were stretched out across the wooden beam and then his wrists were attached to the cross with large nails. The beam with Jesus attached was then raised to fit into the vertical beam of the cross. This had to be excruciating. At this point one nail was driven through both of Jsus’ feet, which were placed one on top of the other, securing them to the cross. The knees were left bent a little.
This happened at about the noon hour. For three hours Jesus would hang from that cross. In the position that he was in he couldn’t breathe and to get air into his lungs, he had to push up against the nail in his feet which hurt tremendously. He would grab a breath and speak. These were the seven times he spoke. His last words were, “It is finished, Fathe into your hands I commit my spirit.” And Jesus died. This is Good Friday.
The Roman soldiers pierced Jesus’ side to prove he was dead and water and blood came out. This indicated that Jesus died of a heart attack brought on by suffocation. His body was released to Joseph of Arimathea and was placed in Joseph’s tomb in a garden not far away. The tomb was then sealed with a huge stone and a Roman guard was posted to guard it. Many would think this is the end of the story but it isn’t. Jesus, on the third day in the tomb, rose from the dead. The stone was rolled away and Jesus left the tomb and death behind him. This is Easter Sunday.
Jesus’ death and resurrection were God’s plan to reunite the world to himself after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. All men sin and “fall short of the glory of God.” God required a sacrifice to take on all of the wrath of God against sinful people. He chose his son to make that sacrifice and in so doing set us free. “Whoever believes in the son of God have the right to claim themselves to be children of God.”.
What to do with this. First, you can’t dismiss it once you know it. Jesus is either the risen son of God or a total fraud. You can’t say he was a great teacher because of the many things he taught the central fact was he claimed to be the son of God. He predicted he would be killed and that he would rise again. Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophesies from the Old Testament. Bearing that in mind Jesus is either who he claims or he is insane but you can’t say he was a great teacher.
So the next thing to do is to decide what you will do with Jesus. If you believe him a whole new life awaits you. If you dismiss him you may find yourself in a place you do not want to be for all of eternity.
What does all of this have to with health and weight loss? Quite a bit. You see Jesus wants me to live my best life possible. And part of that is living a healthy life. I have fallen into many bad habits that destroyed my health in many ways. But Jesus not only saved us from our sins but he offers the inner strength to do the impossible because ‘Nothing is impossible with God.” And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead for me to be the best me. He allowed himself to die so that I could live a good and happy life. That life includes good health and a servant’s attitude. Being healthy and also being able to say, whenever the opportunity arises, “How can I help?” to anyone who may need help.
My health journey continues. I have been in physical therapy for the last six weeks at Advanced Physical Therapy and Aquatics. I am being well taken care of by Josh and Steve and the rest of the staff. They have developed a program for me to follow that has helped me gain strength and stability in my body. I was evaluated on the first day I was there and reevaluated yesterday. The reevaluation showed marked improvement from where I started. I thank God for leading me to this place and for the expert guidance of the staff. If you live in or around the Springfield Delaware County area of Pennsylvania and you need P.T. this is the place to go.
I went to see my primary care physician today and found that I have lost two more pounds. At first, I was disappointed, but the nurse and the doctor pointed out that it was better than nothing which is another way of saying I took two steps forward and no steps back.
Easter is a time to rejoice and there are so many things to rejoice about. You know God in one way or another tells over 800 times in The Bible to rejoice, to be glad to be happy. In the book of Proverbs, it says that “A merry heart is good like a medicine and a downcast spirit dries up the bones. I think this idea has been distilled down to “Laughter is the best medicine.” And it is! We all go through rough times. Times that we think we will never laugh again, that joy is impossible. But those times don’t have to last. You can find joy again by turning to God and turning to others. I have found this to be the truest thing in life. Happy Easter and may God bless us, every one. (This applies even more at Easter than Christmas)