“So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).
Imagine going to the movies with your spouse and two kids. You throw down $35 to buy tickets to a movie that’s gotten all kinds of hype. You stand in line at the concessions counter for what seems like an eternity and throw down another $48.99 on a large tub of popcorn, four large sodas, and a box of peanut M&M’s. You finally make it into the theater, take your seats, and the movie is almost over! You catch the final scene and see how the movie ends, but you miss everything else that leads up to it. Sure, the final scene is impressive, but, not knowing what came before, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If that was your movie experience, how many of you would feel good about your investment of time and money? How many of you would be satisfied with your experience? How many of you would go back up to the ticket counter and demand your money back?
Obviously, going to the movies to catch only the final scene doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As we enter this Holy Week, it makes even less sense to jump straight from the shouts of “Hosanna!” on this Palm/Passion Weekend all the way to the glorious celebration of Easter next Sunday without stopping along the way to first see how the story will play itself out on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. As tempting as it might be to skip the suffering and pain that happens in between this Sunday and next, to do so would be like only catching the final scene of a movie. Without the meal Jesus shares with his disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday, without Jesus’ cries of anguish from the cross on Good Friday, and without the dark sadness of Holy Saturday, the good news of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. To truly understand Easter we must first experience the rest of the story. To truly understand the joy of resurrection, we must first undergo the cross.
Please do not miss the story of this week. Come to worship on Maundy Thursday (7:00 p.m.) to share in Jesus’ meal with his disciples and to hear Jesus’ command to serve. Come to worship on Good Friday (10:00 a.m – Service of Word and Prayer around the Cross; 7:00 p.m. – Chancel Choir Presentation of John Stainer’s The Crucifixion) to be transformed by Jesus’ suffering death on the cross. Come to worship on Holy Saturday (5:00 p.m.) to welcome the light back into the darkness and to be renewed in the promises of baptism. And, then—and only then—come to worship on Easter Sunday (7:30, 9:30, 10:30 a.m.) to celebrate the joy and promise of resurrection. The story’s too good to only catch the final scene! Bring your family! Bring your friends! Bring your neighbors! The tickets are free!
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