Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
The season of Lent will soon end, and with it ends our theme of “Cross It Up.” Jesus will make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem followed by a huge crowd of people shouting “Hosanna!” But, all gives way to abandonment, persecution, and ultimately the crucifixion of Jesus. The journey began with anticipation of restoring the throne of David and Jesus as the king. But Holy Week changed all that. Those hopeful expectations of restoring the throne of David were crushed.
Before Jesus offered himself for our sake, we had no real witness that God goes with us through our suffering, death and resurrection. But the actions and words of Jesus, especially at his crucifixion, smack the “authorities” of this world with the reality that God loves them. Jesus asks our Heavenly Father that the people responsible for his crucifixion be forgiven – because they did not know what they were doing!
Dr. Walter Brueggemann has said, “The crucifixion of Jesus is not to be understood simply in good liberal fashion as the sacrifice of a noble man, nor should we too quickly assign a cultic, priestly theory of atonement. Rather, we might see in the crucifixion of Jesus the ultimate act… in which Jesus announces the end of a world of death… and takes that death into his own person.” (a)
Brueggemann later stated, “The resurrection can only be received, affirmed and celebrated as the new action of God whose province it is to create new futures for people and to let them be amazed in the midst of despair... The resurrection of Jesus is not to be understood in good liberal fashion as a spiritual development in the church. Nor should it be too quickly handled as an oddity in the history of God or as an isolated act of God’s power. Rather, it is the ultimate act of … energizing in which a new history is initiated.” (b)
Jesus’ resurrection from death has initialized a new order. By his resurrection, Jesus animates a new future for people – not for some future time in another reality, but a new future right here and now. A future that is no longer held captive by the fear of death; a future not bound up in the ways of the world. He has initialized his heaven-on-earth!
He came to build up, not tear down, He came to inaugurate (announce the beginning) of the kingdom of Heaven – not someday – but right here; right now! By the suffering, death, AND RESURRECTION of Jesus, he had created a new thing. He has become the exalted human being and shown us that life abundant and eternal!
The feast of Easter is the greatest celebration in all of humankind’s history! But to celebrate Easter without the pilgrimage from Ash Wednesday through Holy Week into Easter morning is much like being thankful that Jesus forgives our sins, without acknowledging we actually have any sins or need any forgiveness. I encourage everyone to come and worship with us on Maundy Thursday and Holy Friday. In these worship services, we finalize our Cross-It-Up theme and complete our pilgrimage, in the bold assurance that whatever happens to us, God is making a way for us through mortal death into immortality!
Grace and Peace,
(a) The Prophetic Imagination, Walter Brueggemann, Fortress Press Books, copyright 1978, pp. 96-97
(b) Ibid pp. 106-107