The passion play that is Holy week is truly an amazing reminder of God’s love for us. Jesus reveals to us in the course of one week the vicissitudes of human experience. We are told that on Palm Sunday, he returned to Jerusalem as a king. After having experienced complete abnegation through the sacrifice of Lent, he successfully resisted the Last Temptation of Christ. We know that he was hungry and thirsty and ripe for temptation, yet he resisted the Devil’s offer of the world as his kingdom. He manifested great inner strength and responded to the Devil’s offer with “man does not live by bread alone.”
Jesus was still human, or as we are now being taught, a spirit having a human experience. Like most humans, he reveled in the victory over the Devil. Jesus returned to Jerusalem and was treated as a king. Palm Sunday must have been a spectacle to see. All those believers happily shared their faith and treated him like the Son of God. Even for a soul as enlightened as Jesus, his human side had to enjoy the high of adulation and acceptance. Jesus knew that the adulation was for his father and not him but still, as anyone who has ever had the opportunity to have an audience clap for you will admit, it is a good feeling. When people show their love for you, it is always good.
Jesus knew that this week was going to be very difficult and the show of love and acceptance was welcome. As Holy Week progresses, Jesus becomes more and more somber as he knows the fate that awaits him. Betrayal, extreme pain and ultimately death. In less than seven days he went from the heights of Palm Sunday to the depths of Calgary. He went from feeling the love of many who recognized him as the Son of the Father to wearing a crown of thorns and carrying the cross that would be the instrument of his death. He experienced a crowd of people who did not recognize him and chose to spare Barabbas as in their minds Barabbas was “real.” Jesus was just some crazy man who claimed to be the Son of God.
This passion play is the ultimate lesson from God. There will be times in our lives where we will be tested. Jesus was tested on the mountain when the Devil, who also knew what was next for Jesus, offered him a way out of the physical pain. A way to escape physical death. He told him famously as they looked over civilization, “All of this can be yours if you serve me.” Jesus had the strength and unshakable faith to deny the Devil. The results of that act of faith were at first exhilarating. He experienced love when he returned to Jerusalem. We too, may have similar results. We may be blessed with favorable conditions after showing our unshakable faith. But then soon after, to our chagrin, we may face a dire situation that will test us even further.
Jesus accepted the dire situation with the same aplomb. He loved us all. He did have a moment of doubt because, like us, he was human. He did wonder why was he forsaken. Yet just before he died he had the clarity of thought to love all of us. He loved those who believed in him and those who put him on the cross when he said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would have had the strength at that point in my life with death impending to forgive those who directly caused my death. Jesus’ strength derived from his certainty that he would never die. He knew that no one could ever kill that part of him that was never born. His last words were “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” This faith in life everlasting is our ultimate test. We have to understand that we are essentially spirits having a human experience. This should not mean that we live life cavalierly but that we should live life with the proper perspective. God has allowed us to exist in human form so that we can learn through experience. The goal of this existence is to eventually return home to God enriched by that experience. Our goal should not be the experience itself but to use the experiences of our lifetime as a path to God. So please know my friends that the highs are never as high as you think and the lows, in the scheme of things won’t amount to much. We are all part of eternity. Our home is with God. It is a place of ineffable joy and immeasurable depth. It is a place from which we all hail and to which we will all return. Jesus’ death and resurrection are constant reminders of what awaits us all.