We are now drawing near to the Great and Holy Week and our observance of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Our focus now turns slowly from our Lenten discipline, our Lenten practices, our journey, to our Lord and His sacrifice on the cross for us.
Perhaps in these last days before the beginning of Holy Week we can give extra time to pondering Jesus’ gift of Himself on the cross. My experience tells me that once we get to Palm Sunday the services march along. We are busy preparing for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, and we may not have the time we’d like for extensive meditation and prayer. We might see these days before Palm Sunday as a gift in this regard, a few quiet days before the beginning of Holy Week.
And what might we consider, today, about Jesus’ sacrifice? That Jesus laid down His life willingly—that no one forced Him or pressured Him into it. When you think of being nailed to a cross to die, it’s hard to imagine anyone submitting to such a death willingly. They would have to beat us into submission, keep us tied hand and foot, drag us to the place of execution—and even then we’d be yelling our lungs out for someone to save us!
Interestingly, the Romans didn’t need to beat Jesus and humiliate Him, and shame Him before the crowds. Jesus would have done all that needed to be done willingly. The Romans did beat Jesus and torture Him, but that was for their own pleasure, not to force Jesus to submit. We can even imagine Jesus lying down on his cross quietly, because He was a willing sacrifice, not needing to be held down by an army of soldiers.
The message above is that Jesus lay down His life, so that He might also take it up again—in resurrection. This He did of His own accord, because He loves us and gave Himself up for us!
Almighty God, give us time and space for pondering the great mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. Calm our hearts and lives that we may pray and meditate as we approach the Great and Holy Week; in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Taken from Wendel, David, From Ashes to Easter, Ashes Lenten Devotional Booklet, North American Lutheran Church.