Brian Underwood is director of School Development for Sierra Lutheran High School.
If you had a week to live, what would you do?
It’s an existential question that some answer philosophically during life’s journey, as others face it in real time, with real consequences. Either way, would your thoughts be more occupied with living or dying? As holy week begins Sunday, Jesus was intent on accomplishing both, for you and for me.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of holy week and Jesus’ humble entry to Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy of his death and resurrection so that those who believe in him would not perish but have eternal life.
Though Jesus’ ministry lasted but three years on earth, it had eternal significance. His entry to Jerusalem, not in a royal processional fit for the King of Kings but instead on a donkey, represented the humble presence of our Immanuel, meaning God with us, who came to die for the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life for his people.
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
To the shouts of “Hosanna,” meaning “Please, Save,” Jesus was hailed as the promised savior, The Messiah, to deliver the Israelites from the Romans. In truth, he came to set his people free to be people of God.
Fully man and fully God, Christ walked through holy week knowing the pain, torture, and humiliation he would suffer. In this way, he could not help but focus on his purpose in death, so that he could accomplish his purpose of everlasting life in paradise with him, which he foretold to his disciples.
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Palm Sunday is also known as passion Sunday, and the beginning of holy week. And, whereas the people of Jerusalem hailed Jesus as The Messiah and welcomed him by waving and laying palm branches before him, the passion of Christ was realized that week through his palms, and feet.
Jesus came to set us free. With his atoning sacrifice, he came to take our sin on the cross with him so that we could have everlasting life. It is a free gift, and these verses beautifully share that gift.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“...because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and savior, give him thanks, and praise this week as we walk to the cross and honor his death and celebrate his resurrection.
If you have not yet accepted Christ as your savior, know that God loves you, and he desires to have an intimate relationship with you. We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23),
so let that not hinder you in learning more about Jesus’ love. There are lots of wonderful Christian leaders in our area who would love nothing more than to have you walk into their parish and have you ask them about Jesus.
Brian Underwood is the executive director of Sierra Lutheran High School.