Christians are funny creatures. We embrace tradition and eschew tradition. We point to the old ways and blaze trails to new ways. We love liturgy and hate liturgy. We use terminology like “it’s not about religion, but about a relationship.”
Depending on the faith tradition you grew up in, maybe your church made a big deal out of Palm Sunday and Passion Week, and maybe not. It’s not that you didn’t appreciate the days leading up to Easter Sunday, it’s just that Easter Sunday got top billing.
And I think that’s me. I think that I’ve always focused so much on the Sunday celebration that I forget what was necessary for that celebration.
There would be no empty tomb without the bloody cross. No crown of glory without a crown of thorns. No resurrection without a crucifixion.
Jesus could not have raised to life if he didn’t first lay down his life. Our souls would never know peace if his body hadn’t been crushed. Our sins couldn’t be forgiven if his blood hadn’t been shed.
No garden without Golgotha.
No victory without tragedy.
No Easter Sunday without Good Friday.
As we prepare for the celebration, we must look at the abomination. The sinless son of God gave himself for humanity. Beaten. Mocked. Scorned. Spurned. Spat upon. Torn. Shredded. Bloodied.
Cursed for you. For me. My sin and yours. My shame and your sorrow. My rebellion and your subversion. As we shook our collective fists in the face of the One who gave us life and gave his life, we did not know that his obedience would lead to our deliverance. He forgave us when we didn’t even know that we needed forgiveness. He made a way back to the Father before we knew we’d left.
We need Passion Week because it forces us to look at our sin. It forces us to look at the cost. But more than that, it allows us to look at Jesus. Because as great as our sin, as large as our shame, his grace is greater still.
So yes, anticipate Easter. Relish in the resurrection. But don’t forget the cross. Don’t forget his submission. Don’t overlook his crucifixion.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isaiah 53:3-10 (ESV)