The Meaning of Holy Week

Things often get worse before they get better”
by Frank Schaefer

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As we enter into holy week, we are reminded of the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us. We remember his betrayal, his suffering, and his death on the cross.

The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot is one of the most dramatic moments in the Gospels. Judas was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, and yet he was the one who betrayed him. We can only imagine the pain and heartache that Jesus must have felt as he realized that one of his own had turned against him.

John 13:21-30 describes the moment of Judas’ betrayal. In this passage, Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray him. When Judas asks: “Lord, is it I?”, Jesus replies, “You have said it.” Despite knowing what Judas is about to do, Jesus does not condemn him or turn him away. Instead, he continues to love and serve him, even washing his feet.

The ultimate suffering of Jesus on the cross is another powerful reminder of the sacrifice that he made for us. Through his death, we are given the gift of eternal life. Jesus endured unimaginable physical and emotional pain, and yet he never wavered in his love for us. His death was not the end, but rather the beginning of a new life for all of us.

To me, one of the most powerful Scripture passages for Holy Week is Isaiah 53:3-6, which describes the suffering servant who was “wounded for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities…and by his stripes we are healed” Through Jesus’ sacrifice God offers us forgiveness and ….healing.

As we reflect on Holy Week events, we can also look to modern-day martyrs like Cesar Chavez as an example of sacrificial love. We actually just officially celebrated his life and work this past Friday. As you may recall, Chavez was a labor leader who fought for the rights of migrant workers in the United States. He endured physical and emotional hardship, including hunger strikes and persecution, all in the name of justice for his fellow human beings. Like Jesus, Chavez did not turn away from his mission even in the face of suffering and opposition.

May we never forget that through our own pain and sacrifice, we can find a resurrection. Often things get worse before they get better. There couldn’t have been a resurrection if Jesus hadn’t suffered death. And so it is often in our own lives. In this life we have to endure hardships, and they may even get worse, but in the end, God promises a resurrection and a happy ending. So let us follow in Christ’s footsteps and patiently endure whatever fire we have to pass through, with the steadfast hope that all will be well as God has promised.