This week is holy week for Christians. It is the week we set aside to remember the last days of Jesus before He was crucified. Beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Resurrection morning, this is by far my favorite holiday.
However, like many holidays, it has been tweaked, adjusted, watered down and secularized. Rabbits, eggs and the name “easter” are all taken from from fertility celebrations years ago. But even within the context of the biblical accounts, we have a tendency to tame the holiday to make it more user friendly. Consider the following events of Jesus’ last days:
The triumphal entry–Jesus got on the back of a borrowed baby donkey and rode into town. Donkeys aren’t known for speed, so the people who were excited to see Him coming had time to find branches and to remove their outer garments and lay them down in Jesus’ path. When is the last time you saw children at church wave their coats in the air to praise Jesus on Palm Sunday?
The children–Apparently the phrase, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” was catchy, because the Pharisees and religious leaders heard the children repeating the phrase in the temple courts. It ticked them off and began their final plot for murder.
Jesus and the temple–The Jesus parade has ended. People have retrieved their coats and dusted the donkey footprints off. The hosannas continue to echo on the lips of children and adults alike. Then Jesus starts cracking whips and tossing furniture. In the temple. Right after His grand welcoming parade. That’s the moment everybody in the vicinity should have known–it’s about to get real up in here!
Jesus and the fig tree– Obviously Jesus was a bit on edge that week. I mean, He was facing the weight of the sins of the entire world, past, present and future. So when He reached for a fig and the fig tree didn’t have any, well… He cursed the fig tree. It was not a language kind of curse like with bad words; more like a “I put you on this planet and if you don’t do your job I got no problem taking you OFF this planet” curse. The fig tree knew it would be best to just shrivel up and die… literally.
Jesus and the disciples– Even among His closest friends, Jesus was keepin’ it real, saying one of them would betray Him, telling them not to cut people’s ears off, chuckling at Peter’s claim that he would die for Him, asking His friends to remember Him and to pray, and teaching them with parables the disciples didn’t understand until after He died.
It was an intense week for so many reasons. Bunnies and chicks would not have fared well (especially during the whole table turning situation). Pastels seem to gentle for donkey hooves, whips, swords and blood. Ultimately, if the actual events of the week were to get a movie rating from the 21st century, they would be rated R for violence, nudity, language and intense torture scenes.
We’ve turned a remembrance of the final battles of an eternal spiritual war into a baby shower. The gospel is not a fluffy bunny that scares away the bogey man. The gospel is a victorious warrior who understands the necessity of pain and sacrifice.