Holy Week is a time of high drama as Jesus heads into the final confrontation. The tension builds day by day until it ends in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
This year we are offering a daily series of recorded reflections that help us engage the narrative of Holy Week by following Jesus day by day. This journey will take us through the very dark times of his trial, torture, and death, and on to his resurrection on Easter Sunday. We will add one recording each day.
To listen, click below.
After a long journey on foot to Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples enter the city for the final confrontation.
We often treat this day as a time for Palm Sunday celebrations, keying on the celebratory mood of his followers as Jesus entered Jerusalem. But for Jesus, it must also have been a time of stress and anticipation, calling forth prayer and great courage.
From Mark 11:1-11.
Monday, the Second Day of Holy Week:
Jesus enters the Temple a second day and confronts the behavior of the money changers and the sacrificial dove sellers. They are a part of what has gone wrong with the Temple system.
Mark places the incident at the Temple between the two halves of the parable of the fig tree. The fig tree dies because it is not bearing fruit; this is a metaphor for the Temple system and its way of approaching God.
From Mark 11:12-21.
Monday of Holy Week
Tuesday, the Third Day of Holy Week:
Crowds form as Jesus teaches on the Temple grounds. The crisis continues to build as the religious leaders realize the implications of his teachings and the challenge that Jesus represents.
At the center of Jesus’ message are the two great commandments: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself; both are closely connected and are the way to God. You might think of the good news proclaimed by Jesus as an invitation to experience a deeper sense of relationship with God; inherent in this is a deeper love for our fellow humans. Holy Week is an especially good time to reflect on what this means.
From Mark 12:28-34.
Tuesday of Holy Week
Wednesday, the Fourth Day of Holy Week:
Jesus is having dinner with his disciples. They apparently do not grasp the implications of the looming crisis – Jesus appears to be alone in the knowledge of his impending death.
A mysterious woman enters the room and begins to anoint Jesus. The disciples are offended, but Jesus comes to her defense. She appears to be the only one, besides Jesus, who is aware of what Jesus is facing. She has come to anoint him for burial.
From Mark 14:3-9.
Wednesday of Holy Week
Maundy Thursday, the Fifth Day of Holy Week:
Jesus must have experienced great fear on the evening of the Last Supper; he was, after all, on the verge of being tortured and crucified. Just a short time after the meal, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus will be beside himself with fear, even to the point of throwing himself on the ground.
Yet despite his fear, at the dinner Jesus was able to focus his attention on his followers and offer them a great gift.
From Mark 14:22-42..
During Holy Week, we anticipate Easter and the resurrection of Jesus. Before we get to the triumphant end, however, it is important to realize what Jesus had to go through. Hearing the full story of the passion and death of Jesus, and letting the narrative speak for itself, can help us appreciate this.
One of the aspects that makes the story so powerful is that Jesus encountered many of our greatest fears and still had the courage to see his mission through to the end.
Adaptation of Mark 14:43 – 15:39.
It is now Saturday and Jesus has died. The movement has apparently failed. His followers’ hopes have been dashed. The disciples believe they have wasted three years following a leader who, in the end, was unable to deliver. The only thing left for them to do is to return home, face the humiliation of having been wrong about Jesus, and try to rebuild their old lives without the sense of meaning and purpose to which they have become accustomed.
The disciples do not know that the resurrection is coming and they will be launched on an adventure far greater than any they could ever imagine.
From Mark 15:42-47.
The story is not over!
The three women are the first to hear the astonishing news that God has raised Jesus. Later, there is more news – that Jesus has appeared to Peter and then to the eleven, that he has joined two despondent followers on their walk to Emmaus, that he has appeared to others. As Peter later put it, the Jesus who men had crucified, God has raised up.
From Mark 16:1-8.
Reflection © 2020 Robert TribkenCenter for Faith and Enterprise