Holy Week always feels chaotic to me. Inwardly chaotic. Emotionally chaotic. I can’t decide how to feel.
On Palm Sunday, children sing and palm fronds are waved and Jesus is hailed as a King. Such rejoicing! But then the real chaos begins. In a few short days, how the crowd turns. By Thursday night, one of Jesus’ own has betrayed Him. On Friday—just five days after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem—the crowd is shouting, “Crucify Him!”
Wait! My heart cries out: What happened to the triumph? And why is it that I—one who joyfully, even ecstatically, welcomed this King into the City—now find myself amidst this other, uglier, angry crowd? That’s the horror: my sins put me right there with them.
It’s true, the line we sang in church recently (from “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty): “Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers. “ Martin Luther was right: “We carry His nails in our pockets.”
So it made great sense to me last Sunday when the young preacher said of Palm Sunday, and Psalm 118, which we were studying: “Today we celebrate the God of Reversals.” And then this week I came across a series of long-ago Christianity Today articles on Holy Week under the title “The Great Reversal.”
The God of Great Reversals. Watch Him at work through Holy Week. Temporal, fleeting triumph turns to terror, and torture, and death. For a day there is silence—holy, awesome silence. And then the Great Reversal: RESURRECTION. ULTIMATE TRIUMPH OVER SIN AND DEATH. ETERNAL LIFE.
The God of Great Reversals. A God in Whom the empty become full, the weak become strong, and sinners like me are forgiven and freed. And death—yes, even death—is destroyed, “swallowed up in victory,” as Paul puts it.
Enter the laughter. Now there’s a reversal. No one was laughing much during Holy Week. But now there’s laughter “from the other side of death,” as author Philip Yancey puts it. I came across the exact quote this week. The words had long echoed in my ears. But there it was in an old file. Yancey’s conclusion to a chapter in his book I Was Just Wondering . . . entitled “The Fragrant Season”: “Listen, Christians. Can you hear the laughter from the other side of death? Breathe deeply of a fragrance like no other. Let it fill your lungs this spring, this Easter.”
I’ll be listening for the laughter this Easter. Can you hear it with me?