As anyone who follows along with my weekday “#abigailsQT” on our Instagram and Facebook stories knows I have been reading a new version of the Bible this year. It’s the Complete Jewish Study Bible and it has made me into a full-blown biblical scholar (jokes) so everyone buckle up for today’s article and know that is where I’m getting many of my facts this week.
Full disclosure. I’m writing this on Monday morning. Usually, our articles come out on Monday mornings but I had a weekend that included me doing a drive-thru COVID19 test (Don’t worry my symptoms are mild if at all…we’re just all playing it safe.) so things got a bit crazy, and I was 100 percent going to phone it in and point you guys in the direction of one of our old, but also excellent pieces that you can find here at the ITH website…but instead, I couldn’t quite shake the fact that we’re experiencing an unprecedented Easter week.
I couldn’t get over the fact that we’re living in a spiritual time that we cannot passover (pardon the pun), that we should not bury our hearts and minds under teleworking, Netflix binges and Zoom meetings. So I couldn’t possibly let this year’s Easter week pass by without sharing a little of what is on my heart for the church in this season.
Let’s Start with Palm Sunday..
When I read the account that we celebrate on Palm Sunday in my reading of Matthew a few months ago, I was struck by what the translation said:
The Crowds ahead of him and behind shouted, “Please! Deliver us!”
To the Son of David;
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
You in the highest heaven! Please! Deliver us!”
Now, in this version there was no “Hosanna” ( the Hebrew word) instead, they’d just gone ahead and translated it from Hebrew into English. All those years of hearing this story in church: Hearing how the people were acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. How they put down the palm branches, took off their coats and laid them on the muddy, gross ground for Jesus to ride over, as they yelled “Hosanna! Hosanna!” … I had always pictured it as so victorious! I had pictured it as so worshipful! And maybe it was…but I had also never really learned the meaning of Hosanna before. I always thought the word Hosanna just meant “messiah” or even that it meant “praise” or something along those lines.
But there printed in my Bible it said, “Please! Deliver us!”
People are Looking for a Savior
Now, according to my Bible’s notes, they were actually quoting from Psalms 118:25-261. And by doing so they were absolutely acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. So don’t worry, we haven’t been living a lie all these years. But, what I don’t think I’d thought much about was how all those people were feeling. I’d like to conjecture here that it wasn’t *quite* as worshipful as I’d always picture. Not *quite* so celebratory and victorious of an entry.
I really believe the people were begging for a physical savior. They wanted someone to come in, take the crown from their current crazy ruler, and make life better for them. They were desperate for a deliverer. Just as we are now.
I do not think it is an accident that our liturgical calendars are lining up with a worldwide pandemic. Just as the Jewish people in Jesus’ time were bent over under the oppressive Roman empire, just as they were struggling and wanting a physical savior, we are all struggling under the fears and doubts of the Coronavirus. The world is suffering. And it’s looking for a physical savior.
Let’s Get to Easter…
The good news is that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He came to save that which was lost. He came to bring people back into a relationship with God. He came to be our Spiritual savior.
And just as they were then, the world is begging for a Savior. And thankfully we have a God who shows up for those who can’t see past their own noses.
On Friday we’ll probably all be in quarantine as we remember the horrors that Jesus faced on the cross. On Saturday we’ll probably be in quarantine as we think of that Holy Saturday when all of Jesus’ disciples sat in silent sabbath sorrow believing all was lost. And on Sunday we’ll probably all be in quarantine as we rejoice in the truth that Jesus conquered sin and death and came back to life.
Our physical circumstances will not have changed. Just as those in Jesus’ time continued to face the oppression of the Roman empire even after those remarkable days of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In fact, things were about to go from bad to worse for the Jewish people of that time.
Let’s Introduce People to A Savior
But there was a change, even in the midst of growing turmoil. Jesus had come. He had died. He had come back to life. Our spiritual lives would never, ever be the same for generations to come.
It would be up to Jesus’ disciples to spread the good news that Salvation had indeed come! It would be up to those who heard and believed to tell their neighbors and their families that their deliverer had come.
As we celebrate Easter this year, it will be up to us to share with a world that is crying out for a physical deliverance, that their Savior has already arrived.
While our circumstances may not change this Easter, I pray that there would be a change in the Church, as we start a great movement in communities that have already begun to cry out, “Please! Deliver us!”