Observance of Holy Week
March has come upon us. That means that the Holy Week is arriving for observance. I realize that not everyone knows the observances of the Holy Week or why it is important to us. We all come from different backgrounds and understandings about our faith and the events that occurred the final week of Jesus’s life here, prior to resurrection. I have the hope of sharing some information with you that may bring us all into a common belief and understanding or our culture as Christians and fellow servants.
For some this information is new, and for others it is a reminder to times past when you first believed. Why is this important? I have spoken to several people, both those who call themselves Christians and those who do not, that have had questions about these observances. As a follower of the “Way”, you should be informed of what they “Way” is and why it is that way. So when asked you can give account of what you believe, and why you believe it.
It is important to understand that different Christian denominations observe Holy Week in different ways. So I am only seeking to give you enough information to spur your own investigations and equip you with enough information that if asked you can at least answer with what all Christians should know about this time of the year. My desire is that it will strengthen and unite us in one common hope and love in Jesus Christ.
Holy Week is the final week of Lent. Lent is a 40 day period that involves abstinence and fasting in order to prepare oneself for the observance of Easter. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday. This period culminates in the Easter Celebration. The days of Holy Week include Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. We will cover these days in more depth another time, however for an introduction, I will give a brief explanation of these days.
Palm Sunday is a day of recognition that Jesus fulfilled prophecy and openly shown He is the messiah when He entered Jerusalem for the last time prior to his arrest in the garden. Holy Thursday is a day set aside to honor the Last Supper of Jesus, and his disciples, prior to his execution. Good Friday is the remembrance of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Holy Saturday is the actual last day of Lent and is to recognize that Jesus was dead, and actually was laid in the tomb. Easter is after the conclusion of the Holy Week and commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.
The observance of Holy Week as a whole is important to put in perspective the celebration of Easter. Holy Week is meant as a somber remembrance. This reminds us of the “passion” that Jesus had and the level of commitment he had in going to the cross. Remember Jesus had foretold his disciples that he would lay down his life on more than one occasion. He pointed out in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Observance lets us gain insight into the suffering, humiliation, and the sacrifice that our savior endured. In this way, we are less likely to take the sacrifice for granted, or to forget what a conscious decision Jesus made in letting himself be captured, enduring the pain and humiliation, and staying on the cross until it was finished. Before there could be a resurrection of Life, there had to be Death and separation.
This also serves as a reminder for us that throughout history, Christians have been persecuted to the point of torture and horrible deaths, in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. This is a somber reminder of the sacrifice we are called to endure in patience and love. Without these sacrifices, beginning with Jesus, we would not know of the grace of God. This gives us a responsibility to commit our lives to the message of the Truth. Being rejected, teased, humiliated, or even tortured for the cause of Jesus is an honor for which we do not deserve.
It is written, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Jesus strengthened this when he spoke in Matthew 10:22 stating, “ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.” Then again in the Gospel of John, Jesus reminded us, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
The observance of Holy Week is observed by all Christian denominations all over the world. We all take this time to reflect on the sovereignty of God, the love of Jesus and an understanding of the sacrifices that have been made. This is a time of fellowship, encouragement, and the breaking of bread. Most of all this is a time of celebration of life.
I know this is probably a bit of a heavy introduction. We will cover, in more detail, the days of the Holy Week. So please be of good cheer. Because Easter morning did come. He did rise from the grave. He did conquer death. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. He is set to return to claim his bride. YOU ARE HIS BRIDE! HE IS NOT DELAYING!
I hope this has peaked your interest in the next few posts to come. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15