Where, O death is your victory

Farmville Enterprise April 12, 2017

Over the course of eight days, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, we recognize in the latter chapters of the gospels almost the complete spectrum of human emotions. Our week begins by remembering the crowds waving branches and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” as Jesus approached Jerusalem on a donkey. (Matthew 21: 9)  On Maundy Thursday we think of Jesus’ intimate Passover dinner in an upper room with his twelve disciples. We often commemorate the Last Supper by partaking of communion. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:26-28) On Good Friday we solemnly remember Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane as he was overwhelmed with sorrow, his betrayal by Judas, his disavowal by Peter, his arrest and trial and his horrifying crucifixion.

Finally we celebrate on Easter Sunday the pinnacle of the Christian year. “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6a)  “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

From the thrill of the Triumphal Entry to the disappointment of disciples who couldn’t stay away to pray, to the betrayal by a friend, to the crowds telling Pilate to crucify him, to mocking soldiers and a crown of thorns, to the unspeakable joy of the resurrection, we should try to take it all in this Holy Week.  By not circumventing the uncomfortable aspects  we will be able to appreciate the miraculous ending all the more.

“Come, see the place where the Lord lay, with joy and gladness. He does not lie there now. Weep, when ye see the tomb of Christ, but rejoice because it is empty. Thy sin slew him, but his divinity raised him up. Thy guilt hath murdered him, but his righteousness hath restored him. Oh! He hath burst the bonds of death, he hath ungirt the cerements of the tomb, and hath come out more than conqueror, crushing death beneath his feet. Rejoice, O Christian, for he is not there –he is risen.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)

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