Easter has not always been about the eggs and the bunny. Easter is about Jesus Christ and is the bedrock of the salvation of mankind. Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar. It celebrates the resurrection from the dead of Jesus, three days after he was executed. The Easter story is at the heart of Christianity.
We most likely have an idea of how it all went down but I want to tell you a story. A story that lasts for just a week; the true Easter story.
Remember Jesus? He was born in Bethlehem in strange circumstances but he grew up in Nazareth and learns carpentry under his foster-father, Joseph; a good and upright man. At the age of thirty, he began to preach about the kingdom of God and to perform miracles. He was a crowd-puller but he made enemies with the ruling class whom he chastised for their hypocrisy.
Three years later, Jesus and his Disciples – 12 of them – started out on a trip to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. As there were no cars then, they walked all the way. Close to the city, he sent two of them ahead to ask a man for a donkey. They were to tell the man that he – Jesus – is in need of it. They did as he said and brought a colt on which no one had ridden. Jesus mounted the donkey and as he rode into the city, people covered the path with palm leaves – palms are a symbol of triumph and victory – and their garments shouting ‘Hosanna” and ‘Jesus is the king’. It was like a modern-day parade. But not everyone was happy. He worried the rulers and they plotted to have him killed. Judas one of the disciples was willing to hand him over for some pieces of silver and the stage was set for his arrest and subsequent death.
Fast forward to Maundy/Holy Thursday. Again Jesus borrows a place to eat The Passover aka Last Supper with his disciples. There he instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and that of Priesthood when he gave the disciple charge to act in his name “Do this in memory of me”. At this meal, Jesus told his followers that they should love and serve one another – the mandatum novum. This He demonstrated by washing the feet of the disciples – something a servant would normally do. Peter didn’t mind having his whole body washed! Judas was present and Jesus hinted that one of them will betray him but at this point, Judas was beyond redemption. He goes out to solidify his plans.
The word Maundy comes from the command (mandate) given by Jesus at the Last Supper, that we should love one another.
The next day, Good Friday; Jesus is in agony. He fears for what is to come and he goes with some disciples to pray in the Garden of Olives, ”Not my will Lord but yours be done”. Poor disciples, they couldn’t keep awake from all the eating of the night before. Now the time has come and Judas gives Jesus away with a kiss. The soldiers arrest him and torture him. Blows and whips; they put on him a crown of thorns and a reed for a scepter and mock him. The say ,“hail king of the Jews”. Jesus is silent, he says not a word. Peter, his disciple denies him three times fulfilling the prophecy of Christ that before the cock crows you will deny me three times. Poor Peter, he is overcome with shame and remorse.
They force Jesus to carry a heavy cross and they proceeded to Calvary for the crucifixion. Some of the crowd cheered while some wept. He falls three times and is at some point assisted by Simon of Cyrene. A woman, Veronica wipes his bloody face and he meets his blessed mother. Words can’t explain the sorrow she must have been in,but she never leaves him. She follows him to Calvary.
At Calvary, he is nailed to the cross with two thieves. One is afraid and he comforts him. Strange things happen – there is darkness for three hours and the earth trembled. Before his death, he made seven timeless statements. The last of which is “Father into your hand I commit my spirit” and he expires. The veil of the temple is rent and people believe that truly he is the Son of God.
It is over, he has won our salvation. Now what next?
After letting go before something new, there is an awkward in-between. Jesus is in the grave and we – very sad – wait.
To be continued…