April 2, 2020 Seven Days that Changed the World

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

On Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020, we enter the final chapter of the story of Lent, which is titled: “Seven Days that Changed the World.”

This story of Holy Week that we begin to hear on Palm Sunday begins with our spirits soaring and yet ends in somber reflection.

And yet, these seven days changed the world. To try and calculate the impact of these seven days is impossible. But harder still would be an attempt to account for the lives of men and women who have been transformed by these seven days.

What happened on those seven days we refer to as Holy Week?

1. On this Sunday the first of the seven days, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of Hosanna, fulfilling an old prophecy in Zechariah 9:9.

2. On Monday he walked into the Jerusalem Temple overturning tables where money exchange occurred. The Temple had become a place of profit rather than a place of prayer.

3. On Tuesday the third day – Jesus taught in parables, warned the people against the Pharisees, and predicted the destruction of the Temple.

4. On Wednesday, the fourth day, we know nothing. The Gospel writers are silent. Perhaps it was a day of rest for Christ and his weary and worried disciples.

5. On Thursday, the fifth day, in an upper room, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. But he gave it a new meaning. They would remember his broken body and shed blood. Later that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane he agonized in prayer at what lay ahead of him.

6. On Friday, the sixth day, following betrayal, arrest, desertion, imprisonment, false trials, denial, condemnation, beatings and sentencing, Jesus carried his own cross to "The Place of the Skull," where he was crucified with two other prisoners.

7. On Saturday, the seventh day – Jesus lay dead in a tomb bought by a rich man named Joseph.

8. On Sunday, his Passion was over, and the stone had been rolled away. Jesus was alive. He appeared to Mary, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and to the eleven disciples gathered in a locked Upper Room. His resurrection was established as a fact.

But the turning point for all Christians is Palm Sunday. It is our moment of triumph. It was a triumph because God in Jesus decided to ignore our miserable state and act on our behalf.

No matter what we have done: where we have been, how far we’ve distanced ourselves from God, compromised our principles, sold out to the expediency of the moment, given in to sin.

God comes into our world and welcomes us home. We may not deserve to be there, but he welcomes us just the same.  Amen.