The week beginning on Palm Sunday and ending with the crucifixion of Christ focuses on the darkest period of history. Yet, throughout this passionate period, a light shines through the darkness: the hope of the resurrection.
These seven sacred days reveal the seriousness of sin and the price required to redeem us. Martin Luther called our tendency to do wrong so deep and horrible a corruption of nature that, “no reason can comprehend it.” And Augustine wrote: “We are capable of every sin that we have seen our neighbor commit unless God’s grace restrains us.”
Old Testament prophets foresaw and wrote about the coming painful passion of the coming deliverer. David penned the most mysterious of the seven last words of Christ on the cross centuries before they were spoken (Psalm 22). Isaiah saw the suffering Savior being wounded and bruised to pay for our transgressions (Isaiah 53). Zechariah wrote about his pierced body and wounded hands (Zechariah 12:10; 13:6).
While Handel was composing his great “Messiah,” a friend came to visit him just as he was working on the music for “He was despised.” Handel sobbed as he worked because his heart was broken as he thought about the shame and suffering of Christ described in the text before him.
The disciples were devastated by the events of Passion Week. Peter was the first to fall, denying his Lord three times before leaving the scene in tears but ultimately they all fled for their lives, abandoning the one who loved them in their darkest hour.
Earlier, Jesus had been challenged by critics who demanded a sign to prove His authority to teach and work miracles. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” He had replied (John 2:9). Thinking He was speaking of the temple in Jerusalem, they reminded Him it had taken forty-six years to build and that rebuilding it in three days would be impossible. But He had been speaking of the resurrection of His body after the crucifixion, a promise He repeated to His disciples.
Interestingly while the enemies of Christ remembered His promise of resurrection, His disciples seem to have forgotten it. His accusers would later ask Pilate for a Roman guard to be set at the tomb because He had said He would rise again (Matthew 27:63).
Matthew Henry, the noted Bible commentator, explained this strange turn of events by writing “hate is keener sighted than love.” Considering how much more likely our enemies are to attack us than some of our friends to defend us, he may have been right.
The passion of Christ and all that was part of His cruel condemnation and crucifixion created an atmosphere of darkness, but then came Sunday.
Three days after Jesus was placed in Joseph’s tomb the stone that sealed Him in was touched by an angel and rolled away, allowing light to enter that dark place. This demonstration of authenticity transformed the disciples into dynamic people of faith.
God still meets those He loves during their dark times.
The happy headline of Easter announces “Christ Arose!”
And right on time, in response to your faith, He’ll roll away the stone that’s troubling you today.