Today we start the climb up the Holy Week staircase that takes us beyond the waving of palms and shouts of the marching song, “Hosanna, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Today we prepare to hear and respond to the question, “Will you, will I, take up the climb to walk where Jesus walked through each day in this week called ‘Holy?’”
For Jesus the climb began after Sunday, the day: he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
For Jesus the climb started the next day, on Monday and continued into Tuesday as He made His way up the many steps of the temple to get to the porches and court yard crowded with tables to exchange the coins of the world for the ones required to purchase a sacrificial offering, and the stalls of merchants selling those items, from bulls and sheep to doves.
There Jesus overturned the tables and sent merchants and their livestock on the run to make room in the temple for people to have a place to pray to God; to make the temple a prayer chapel for all nations.
The visible reminder for that purpose was the room called the Holy of Holies, entered by the high priest only once a year at the Passover. Inside that room was the stone pillow on which Jacob was reported to have laid his head and witnessed a ladder – a stairway - with angels descending and ascending from heaven, and, it was said, that place marked the spot where God and humans met when God breathed the breath of life into Adam and Eve.
To walk with Jesus is to walk where Jesus walked on Monday and Tuesday, to climb above all that is dividing nations and individuals, and meet – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindi, followers of Confucius and every other community of faith, to meet as human beings, breathing the same breath of life, who use that breath to pray for wisdom, tolerance, patience, and just plain common sense to keep from destroying one another and our earth home; to commit to proving that the TV series of “The Walking Dead” and “Apocalypse Now” and all the sequels
are not a preview of what we will eventually do to one another.
For us it means letting the God we know in Jesus Christ enter into and be present in all our deliberations, all our crises – both very public and very private.
During World War II and immediately after when Russian police were searching for dissidents, they broke into a meeting of Christians and took down everyone’s name. As they turned to leave one person said, “You’ve missed one.” The officer checked the list; his count was correct. “No one is missing,” he said. “Yes there is one more,” said an old man. “The Lord Jesus Christ is here with us.” ( Adapted from James S. Stewart, The Strong Name)
In today’s world of shrinking economics and rising costs, of a nuclear arms race, and the rise of China and of Islamic states vying to become the dominate world power, it means Christians climb the staircase that brings us into a space that is our Holy of Holies where we invited all nations to make room for the divine, by whatever name each uses, and let that Presence be present in every human being.
For us it means doing what Jesus did on Monday and Tuesday when He created a prayer space for all nations.
For Jesus the walk continued on to Wednesday when He climbed the slopes of the Mount of Olives to be alone in prayer to God. If He had to have that time, how much more do we need a Wednesday moment in our life, a time free of everything but that sheer silence Elijah heard on the mountain, a time for praying: (John Greenleaf Whittier)
“Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.”?
It was that walk that gave Jesus the strength to climb the steps on Thursday to an upper room for His last earthly meal with His closest friends, then back out to climb the Mount of Olives, and on into Friday when He was forced to climb and stand before the Jewish court of law and then appear before the Roman governor, back and forth between the two, up steps and down steps, six appearances in all that ultimately brought Him to climb up Calvary’s hill bearing the cross that became His sentence of death.
In John Mark’s account of that dark day only one person was heard to exclaim, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
and he was an officer in the Roman army!
To walk with Jesus is to keep on climbing to Thursday’s Table and on to Friday’s cross where the question that started us off on this Palm Sunday, “Will you, will I, take up the climb to walk where Jesus walked through each
day in this week called “Holy?” will, at week’s end, be, “What will we be heard saying?”
Will the climb up Calvary’s hill and the sight of the cross bring us to our knees to pray: (Isaac Watts)
“Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”?
In the first century the Apostle Paul, when writing to Christians in Rome – the power center of the Roman emperor and Roman legions and ongoing crucifixions – said, (Romans 8: 19) “The whole creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.”
If that was what the world was holding its breath to see then, how much more is today’s world holding its breath to see a people who are taking up the walk of Jesus all through this week called “Holy,” from Sunday through to
O God, may the world see the answer in us! Amen!