Holy Week

Mounting opposition:

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him by stealth and kill him. (Mark 14:1)

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. (Mark 14:10)

In that context:

And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head. (Mark 14:3)

“There Jesus was, in a dark and desolate land; and lo! out of the heart of a woman, a spring of fresh water sprung for the thirsty Christ! He valued it.”

—G. Campbell Morgan

Advertisements

Martin Luther’s Easter Hymn

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands,
And brings us life from Heaven.
Wherefore let us joyful be,
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of Alleluia!

No son of man could conquer Death,
Such mischief sin had wrought us,
For innocence dwelt not on earth,
And therefore Death had brought us
Into thralldom from of old
And ever grew more strong and bold
And kept us in his bondage.

But Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,
To our low state descended,
The cause of Death He has undone,
His power forever ended,
Ruined all his right and claim
And left him nothing but the name,
His sting is lost forever.

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life;
The reign of death was ended.
Stripped of power, no more it reigns,
An empty form alone remains
Death’s sting is lost forever!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, Death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us.

So let us keep the festival
Whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended!

Then let us feast this Easter day
On the true Bread of Heaven;
The Word of grace hath purged away
The old and wicked leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed;
He is our Meat and Drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other!

—Martin Luther (1524), translated Richard Massie (1854)

(may be sung to the hymn tune MIT FREUDEN ZART [“Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”])

 

Holy Saturday (2)

Today a grave holds Him
who holds creation in the palm of His hand.
A stone covers Him
who covers with glory the heavens.
Life is asleep and hell trembles,
and Adam is freed from his chains.
Glory to Your saving work,
by which You have done all things!
You have given us eternal rest,
Your holy resurrection from the dead.

—Orthodox Church, The Matins of Holy Saturday (excerpt)

Holy Saturday

In a tomb they laid you,
O Christ the Life.
The angelic hosts were overcome with awe,
And glorified Your condescension.

O Life, how can You die?
How can you dwell in a tomb?
Yet by Your death You have destroyed the reign of death,
And raised all the dead from hell.

Earth’s bounds You have measured,
O Jesus, King of all,
Yet today You dwell in a narrow tomb,
Raising the dead from their graves.

Lo, the sovereign Ruler
Of creation is dead.
Almighty God is laid in a new tomb,
To empty the graves of all their dead.

In a tomb they laid you,
O Christ the Life.
By Your death You have cast down the might of death
And become the font of life for all the world.

You have been numbered
Among transgressors, O Christ.
You have justified us all, O Lamb of God,
By freeing us from the devil’s works.

He who holds the earth
In the hollow of His hand
Has been put to death and held fast by the earth,
To save the dead from hell’s grasping hand.

O my Life, my Savior,
Dwelling with the dead in death,
You have destroyed the iron bars of hell,
And have risen from corruption.

—Orthodox Church, The Matins of Holy Saturday (excerpt)

SEE ALSO: Bruce Benedict, “Poem for Easter”

“It is finished!”

The Savior meant that the satisfaction which He rendered to the justice of God was finished. The debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all and forever—by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the Tree. There was the cup, Hell was in it, the Savior drank it—not a sip and then a pause—not a draught and then a ceasing. He drained it till there is not a dreg left for any of His people. The great ten-thronged whip of the Law was worn out upon His back. There is no lash left with which to smite one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition—there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God.

Sheathed is your sword, O Justice! Silenced is your thunder, O Law! There remains nothing now of all the griefs and pains and agonies which chosen sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for His own Beloved and “it is finished.”

—Charles H. Spurgeon, “It Is Finished!” Sermon delivered at Metropolitan Tabernacle, December 1, 1861 (full sermon HERE)

What Makes This Friday “Good”?

Although Catholics and Protestant in the past have followed somewhat different forms, in both camps the observances have been such as to cause people to ask, “Then why do we call this Friday ‘good’?” Emphasis has been on the seemingly senseless suffering of Jesus rather than on the purposeful humiliation of God through which redemption comes. In other words, we have failed once again to read the sacred story backward. Friday has been observed as if Sunday had never come.

Good Friday can and should proclaim divine purpose as paramount. Indeed, the term “Good Friday” may be a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday.” This day is good precisely because God was in control at Calvary. The crucifixion of Jesus was not some bad deal that God had to try to make the best of; it was a working out of divine intention with a view to the salvation of an otherwise doomed creation.

—Laurence Hill Stookey, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, 95-96