Next week is the most important week in the history of the world. Next week commemorates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These are the events that changed the world forever.
So, what are the events of this week all about? Why did Jesus die a criminal’s death? What was the meaning behind Jesus’s resurrection that the writers of the New Testament were so excited about? They were so excited that they preached the truth of these events while facing the consequence of death. What made these events in the life of this man so different from others?
Endless volumes have been written in response to these questions, but the best one of all is the Bible itself. The Bible makes clear that the Creator God (who was incarnate in Jesus) launched his new creation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Through Jesus, God broke into history and set things on a different path.
Through his resurrection, Jesus disarmed the power of sin in the world (Col. 2:5), something no other person has been able to do. Jesus is set apart in this sense. He’s different. He’s a new version of humanity. Jesus is the new Adam in whom healing, restoration, and ultimately resurrection is found. This is good news. The even better news is that he invites us to share his life through faith. This is what the Christian faith is all about. The Christian faith is not about a new way to manage sin. Christianity is about death, burial, and resurrection. Holy week is about killing sin. It’s about burying the old nature and living in the new in union with Jesus through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8). In a phrase, it’s about being united with Jesus in his rebellion against sin. For those who are one with Jesus, sin does not have the last word.
Since the beginning, sin and death have tightly held the world in its tyrannical grip. It makes no exceptions. All die. Corruption, brokenness, struggle, sickness, natural disasters, murder, rape, perversion, deception, betrayal…all of these unfailingly characterize human existence. It’s embarrassing.
They knew Jesus was different. This is why they celebrated him as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. They waved branches before him as the leader of their rebellion against Rome (Mark 11:1-11). They got one part wrong, however. The problem wasn’t Rome. The problem is us. Rome is merely a personification of the problem of humanity. The rebellion is against sin. Jesus started a revolution.
Leading New Testament scholar N. T. Wright says this:
WHEN JESUS OF NAZARETH DIED THE HORRIBLE DEATH OF CRUCIFIXION AT THE HANDS OF THE ROMAN ARMY, NOBODY THOUGHT HIM A HERO. HIS MOVEMENT WAS OVER. NOTHING HAD CHANGED. THIS WAS THE SORT OF THING THAT ROME DID BEST. CAESAR WAS ON HIS THRONE. DEATH, AS USUAL, HAD THE LAST WORD. EXCEPT THAT IN THIS CASE, IT DIDN’T. AS JESUS’S FOLLOWERS LOOKED BACK ON THAT DAY IN THE LIGHT OF WHAT HAPPENED SOON AFTERWARD, THEY CAME UP WITH THE SHOCKING, SCANDALOUS, NONSENSICAL CLAIM THAT HIS DEATH HAD LAUNCHED A REVOLUTION. THAT SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED THAT AFTERNOON THAT HAD CHANGED THE WORLD. THAT BY SIX O’CLOCK ON THAT DARK FRIDAY EVENING THE WORLD WAS A DIFFERENT PLACE.
WRIGHT, N. T. THE DAY THE REVOLUTION BEGAN: RECONSIDERING THE MEANING OF JESUS’S CRUCIFIXION; NY: HARPER COLLINS, 2016), 3).
Dr. Matt Ayars