From Palm Sunday to Easter

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A message for Easter by Helen Kerr, chairwoman of Arran Churches Together.

This season leading to Jesus’ death and then the joy of Easter is the greatest event celebrated in the Christian calendar.

On this journey our Lord ‘sets his face towards Jerusalem’. The time had come to confront both the religious authorities and the secular society. Riding on a donkey, the sign of coming in peace, and to the cheers of the crowds, hopeful of a confrontation against the political oppression of the Roman Empire, Jesus had a heavy heart knowing great suffering lay ahead. The shouts of ‘Hosanna,’ would not last long. Like many crowds they would become fickle when it became expedient.

The Gospel tells us he made straight for the temple in Jerusalem. Corruption and profiteering was taking place there and it more than scunnered Jesus.

It made him extremely angry. ‘You make my Father’s house a den of thieves.’ Of course, this turned people against him, upsetting ‘our way of life and lucrative gain’ as he chased out animals and money changers.

Midweek he withdrew to the home of friends, rested and continued to inform and teach his close circle of disciples of the reality of his coming passion, trying to comfort them. They were fearful.

Thursday gives the account of the memorable Last Supper with his friends, the washing of the disciples’ feet – a visual instruction of our call to serve others, and the revelation that one of their number would betray him.

The short journey to the quiet Garden of Gethsemane found close friends unable to keep Jesus company in prayer and in his agony as he bowed to the will of God his Father. Now Jesus stands alone. Judas the disciple betrays him for a mere 30 pieces of silver. All his disciples desert him.

Following a trumped up trial late at night, and because they want the death penalty, he is handed over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who endeavours to get Jesus ‘off the hook’ with a flogging. But no, the religious leaders determined to have Jesus put to death whip up the mob to demanding crucifixion. In 2021 what would we have been shouting?

Good Friday. Why ‘Good’? The day when one man, sorely tempted but sinless was obedient unto death by the cruellest means – crucifixion, because God his Father who loves all humankind, sent his divine Son to live and die as a man, for each one of us so that whoever believes in him will have life everlasting. Jesus’ last words on the cross, ‘It is finished!’

But then, on the third day women followers bowed with grief, wanted to go to the tomb with spices to treat Jesus’ body.

We are told Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty and meets a man she thinks is the gardener. In her tears she asks, ‘If you know where they have taken my Lord’s body please tell me…’

He simply says, ‘Mary,’ and she recognises Jesus. She rushes and tells the frightened disciples. They don’t believe her. Two go to see for themselves. An empty tomb but no Jesus.

Jesus’ close followers afraid of the authorities, huddle together behind locked doors and Jesus appears to them as he did on several occasions over a few weeks.

Sorrow turns to joy, fear turns to courage. He is alive! This is the hope, the joy and the challenge of Easter. To finish with an old quote from scripture. ‘Choose you this day whom you will serve!’

A Blessed and Happy Easter to all.