The events of Holy Week are remembered and rehearsed because they mark the mighty acts of God for our salvation. Palm Sunday, marks Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on what was lamb selection day of the Passover observance. Jewish families would purchase a lamb without blemish four days before the lamb was to be sacrificed. They would care for the lamb and then bring the lamb to the Temple to sacrifice it. Jesus then celebrates the Seder meal with His disciples and announces that He has just ratified the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31, in which God will write the Torah on their hearts and remember their sins no more, as He gives them the cup saying, "This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins. Drink this all of you, in remembrance of me."
Jesus goes to the Temple following the meal and they sing Psalm 118, the messianic psalm which describes how the leaders of Israel will reject Him and yet God will make Him the chief cornerstone of the new and final Temple of God. He and the disciples go to the Mount of Olives and He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane asking that the cup of God's wrath may pass from Him and yet still despite the horror, He embraces the Cross. Jesus is arrested, beaten, and mocked. He is accused of blasphemy by those who are the true blasphemers. He is then brought before Pilate by the corrupt Priestly group seeking execution. To keep peace during the Passover, Pilate extracts blasphemous promises and oaths from the Temple leadership and executes a man he knows to be innocent.
Jesus dies at the hour the daily sacrifice is offered on behalf of the nation. He dies on Passover. He is buried on the feast of Unleavened Bread, when the prayer is prayed, "Blessed are you Lord God, King of the Universe for giving us bread out of the earth." He rises from the grave before dawn of the third day on the Feast of Firstfruits, as the first born from the dead. He brings Israel's exile to an end, He inaugurates the New Covenant, He pours out the Holy Spirit and empowers the church for ministry, to announce the coming of the reign of the eternal King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and to preach repentance in His name to every nation, tribe, and tongue.
What we remember and rehearse is our Passover, 1 Corinthians 5:7. It is the intervention of God, to set us free from the dominion of the devil, to cleanse us from all of our sin, to transform our hearts and characters so that we will be like Christ. He fills us with His Spirit that we may not only follow the One who is the Light of the World, but that we might reflect His glory and lordship, so that we may, "Let our light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in Heaven" Matthew 5:16.
Copyright 2008 Rev. Walter "Lucky" Arnold
Editor's Note: The Passover Feast is always on the 14th day of Nissan (occurring in March or April) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread spans the 15th-21st. The Feast of Firstfruits is always on the first day after the Sabbath following Passover (Sunday). And in keeping with God's perfect timing, this particular year was unique in that these three major feasts were in consecutive order marking Jesus' death, burial and resurrection three days later, further marking God's salvation plan as it is seen through the Feasts of the Lord!
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