This is called Holy Week, and the very name begs us to consider holiness itself.
Holy Week is intended not only to remind us of Jesus' journey in that climactic week, but to prepare ourselves again to follow him.
Prepare yourself now in the words and thoughts ahead.next >
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
Mark 15:33-39next >
Jesus died on the cross. Although innocent, he was arrested, tried, and condemned to crucifixion by the Roman authorities. Crucifixion was a common form of public execution for common criminals.
The biblical text for today tells us how painful it was and how alone he felt. “My God, why have you forsaken me?” was Jesus’ own prayer from the cross. It was a terrible ordeal.
But Jesus was not alone. God was with him. When it was over and Jesus was dead, one of the Roman soldiers saw what others missed: “Truly this was the son of God.”
Today, people around the world continue to make that confession. In Holy Week, Good Friday slowly moves toward Easter!
Bill Leonardnext >
O God, when I feel forsaken, help me to know that you never leave me. This Holy Week, help me to believe that through Christ love is stronger than death. Amen.next >
Prepared as you are,
Follow now your Lord,
Who goes ahead of you
To make ready the way,
To show you how to walk
This dark path.
Trust him to know where he leads you.
Bill Leonard is a professor of Baptist studies and church history and religion at Wake Forest University, where he is the founding dean of the School of Divinity.