Holy Week focuses us on the cross of Christ. Paul said that the only thing he would boast of is the cross, “by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). The cross was the center of his knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:2). He bore the “marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17) and spoke of carrying “the death of Jesus” in his body so that “the life of Jesus may also be made visible” in his body as well (2 Corinthians 4:10). Paul took the power and message of the cross to heart.
Holy Week is a season for taking the cross to heart. But how? Here are three practices:
- Read the gospel story. Pick a gospel and read from the triumphal entry to laying Jesus in the tomb (Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 13-19). What strikes you? What is Jesus drawing you to see and understand?
- Meditate on the events of Holy Week. Don’t just read the story, but pray your way through it. Imagine yourself breaking bread with Jesus in the upper room. Go out into the cold night and wait with the disciples in the garden. See the torches of the soldiers wavering as they circle around the path to arrest Jesus. Witness his trial, his mistreatment, his carrying the cross through the streets, his crucifixion beside the criminals. See Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea lay out Jesus’ body, slack and pale, on the tomb’s stone slab.
- Receive communion. Maundy Thursday is the night that the church remembers and celebrates the sacred meal that Jesus gave his church. Many congregations observe communion that night. Communion is not just a mental exercise in reminiscence. It’s about receiving Christ into our lives, body and blood. There’s nothing like communion for internalizing Jesus’ cross and passion.
The whole of Jesus’ life and mission points to the cross. We cannot know him, follow him, or love him unless we embrace Jesus’ cruciform heart. Nor can we grasp the significance of the resurrection.
Jesus, show us your heart during this most Holy Week.