Lies, false witness, denial, slander, scheming, injustice, rejection of truth, hypocrisy—human sin and daily life are played out vividly in the events of Holy Week. I recommend reading Matthew, chapters 26 to 28, either by yourself, together as a family, or with your friends.
In Matthew 26:1-5, we read: When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples,
As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.
With this, we watch as Jesus begins his walk to Calvary. Jesus saw clearly into Judas’ heart and his betrayal of his Master, predicted his beloved disciple Peter’s denial, and he prayed,
My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.
Jesus stood before the high priests and Sanhedrin and watched as countless false witnesses came forward. He faced their mocking and malice:
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?
He stood before Pilate and was condemned. Instead, “The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.” Barabbas, the insurrectionary, was released on the basis of the crowd’s lies and screaming shouts of “Crucify him!”
Jesus carries his cross and bears the mocking of the Roman soldiers. On the cross, we hear his anguished cry,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?).
As they say, the rest is history—resurrection! The glorious rescue and final delivering event for all those who call on him.
What does this all mean for us today? Freedom and deliverance!
It would be difficult to calculate the number of times in the Bible we find the theme that someone felt abandoned, cried out to God, and was delivered and set free. This freedom is a gift from God from all that oppresses, all that harms, all that sends us into despair, disillusionment, or final destruction.
So this Easter cry out to the Lord about your pain, your frustration, your anguish, your sorrow, and trust in him to deliver and comfort you. Express to God your grateful confidence that whatever oppression or captivity you face today, freedom is on the way. Take heart in the fact that nothing can stop it.
Whatever you’re facing—divorce, death, the loss of a loved one, foreclosure, bankruptcy, credit card debt, betrayal, loneliness, illness—God is with you and he is trustworthy.
Alleluia! He is risen.
May you and yours have a very blessed and hope-filled Easter season.