Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
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This is the seventh and last devotion in a series on the Passion of Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew.
Please read Matthew Chapter 27:55--66 in your Bibles.
The traditional psalm to sing on Maundy Thursday is Psalm 116:10-17. The thing is there’s a hallelujah at the end. Now since it is Holy Week, you’re supposed to omit the hallelujah. You’re not supposed to say it. Shhhh! Two years ago on Maundy Thursday, the cantor messed up. She chanted the “Hallelujah!” We all sort of caught our breath. It was out there. Everyone glanced nervously around the room. I felt like a naughty kid who had gotten away with something. It was sort of a thrill. Because here we are trying to be all serious and contemplative about Christ’s great gift to us and the imminent suffering, and that “Hallelujah!” sneaks out. The end of the story pops out and we giggle.
The religious leaders went before Pilate because they wanted to put a guard around the tomb. They had heard that Jesus told his followers he would be raised on the third day. They said to Pilate, “His disciples will come steal the body and tell everyone that he has been raised from the dead. The last deception will be worst than the first.” Don’t giggle. Don’t let the end of the story pop out. Not yet, not yet.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Aslan (the Christ figure) gives himself to the White Witch to be sacrificed on behalf of Edmund who had “sold his soul” to the witch. The witch is about to kill Aslan and she wants to get in one last dig. She says, “And now who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him out of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.”
That’s the big joke for this whole week. Evil believes that it has triumphed and that all is lost. As they take Jesus down from the cross, wrap him up in cloths, and seal him in that tomb, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, and the “other” Mary have no idea what will transpire. They are consumed with grief. But we know. We know and there’s a tinge of a thrill. We stifle a laugh because of the joy to come. But to truly know that joy and thrill, we relive the story each year. We see the anguish in the garden. We see the betrayal. We see the beating, the crucifixion, and the death. We see the sealed tomb. We see—we relive—but with that stifled giggle and thrill of a shared joke. Joy comes on Sunday because we have walked with Christ to the cross. Christ will be raised. Death and evil will not triumph. Christ is raised! Alle… oooh! Shhh!
Pray that joy will be yours when Sunday comes.