So, another Holy Week arrives. Palm Sunday begins with shouts of praise for Jesus. A few days later, there are sounds of suffering and pain. Now I know how this all turns out on Easter, but I can still feel myself being tugged down a little. It’s like I have a weight on my back. Everyday activities take a little more effort to accomplish. I could blame it on the uncertainty of the contract at my work. Certainly the world is not in such a good place at this time. Or I can blame almost anything on being so old.
I could point to a lot of things outside of me as the source of my dampened feelings. But this comes from the inside. I think the feelings are always there but I choose to ignore them. Now I find them intensified with Holy Week and by a song that I have saved on my phone. It is Blues/Gospel song by Jim Bohn titled “Count on My Amazing Grace.” The coming events of Jesus’ life and the lyrics found fertile soil have given rise to my own Holy Week blues.
My thoughts returned to my drinking days of the past and all the tragedy that it caused in my life and also in those around me. I was certainly not a loving husband or father. In fact, there were many times I worked to pull my family down into my suffering.
I can remember other people in my extended family and how I hurt them. I know I abused the positions with which God blessed me and how I was never an employee that could be trusted to do anything I needed to do. Truly, I spent a lot time walking away from God.
For some reason, two more recent acquaintances come to mind. I met David for only a short time while we were on a trip to Texas. I found him sitting outside of a store in a makeshift shoe shine stand. He agreed to let me take his picture. I commented he had a lot of shot-sized bottles in his cooler. David replied,” No friend of mine anymore.” Laying behind the cooler was also a well-worn Bible. I had the chance to encourage him both in his struggle with alcohol and in his faith life. Rather, I took the picture and simply walked away. I think about this and I go down.
The second person, I will call her Mirela, is a woman whom I have known for about the last 18 months. She is the type of person who, in my opinion, sincerely cares for others. She is slow to judge those people with whom she comes into contact. Mirela tries to find the good in others and takes the time to share the positive she sees. She is willing to help others less fortunate or who are experiencing problems in their lives, even when the cost to herself seems great. She is the picture of what this world considers a “good” person.
But she is also living part of her life, as I at times find myself doing, in a way that puts a barrier between her and Jesus. Have I ever introduced Mirela to her Savior, especially when she talks about feeling “nervous” about various issues in her life? Not once! Whether it is out of fear of offending her or whatever other reason, I let those opportunities pass without a peep. Sorry Mirela, and you too, Jesus. And I sink deeper.
As Holy Week moves beyond Palm Sunday, from Isaiah 53, I hear these words, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah reminds me why Jesus suffered. Sure, it was for the sins of the all people who have lived and will ever live. Sometimes I want to ignore the fact that I am part of that world. My sins brought the crushing suffering down on Jesus. And even though I know that fact, I still find myself going astray from where I need to be in my life–I keep on sinning. And my descent continues.
The same passage also tells me of the great love my God has for me, in fact for all people. The guilt of all my sins were placed on Jesus. He bore the punishment for every sin I have ever done, and for the ones I am, sadly, still committing. Jesus sinless life and perfection were exchanged for my sinfulness and imperfection. So now, when my Heavenly Father looks at me, he sees his Son’s suffering and death. My debt is paid. I am at peace with God.
And still the blues are there. Sure I can ignore them and say to myself, “Easter is coming!” But the journey for this Holy Week is looking pretty long. And it is just starting. I know I am at peace with God, but that does not remove the realization of how much I was the cause of Jesus’ need to die. Maybe I am being reminded of how dependent I am on that forgiveness for hope. Maybe I am simply tired of the sins I still see in my life.
But, there is no maybe about this: the same love that resulted in Jesus being sent into this world, and made him stay on the cross despite knowing I would still commit the sins of today–that perfect love says to me, “John, you are forgiven.” That needs to be my focus this Holy Week. Because, as I said earlier, I know that Easter is coming.
Easter is not too far away and its message is too good to miss.
Please come back. I will wait you.
And if you want to hear the song I mentioned earlier, here is the link. Great lyrics and music – if you like the blues. Even if you do not, I would encourage you to take a listen to hear one man’s application of Jesus’ love.