When it comes to the events of Holy Week and the Easter story, we sometimes find ourselves in the precarious place of overfamiliarity. On the one hand, familiarity is a gift. Knowing these parts of the Bible so well helps us understand other parts that are less celebrated.
On the other hand, we live in a world that is constantly careening toward the next new thing. Continual news feed keeps us chasing the most current information. Breaking news and discoveries are only new for a matter of seconds.
As Christians, we know it is important, necessary, and good to remember and celebrate all God has done in Christ. But many of us (I’m raising my hand!) get sucked into the perpetual state of now-ness, hungering for new information. When we come upon the old, old story of Jesus and his love, we have a tendency to skim the familiar Bible story with a bulleted ticker sliding through the brain:
✓ Jesus is born
✓ gets disciples
✓ does miracles
✓ is crucified
✓ is raised
Yes … I’ve read that … and that. Uh-huh … yes. Yep. Nod. Next!
But for those like the apostle John—who saw Jesus, who heard him teach, who extended a hand to help him up from the ground where he sat visiting—it was more than they could possibly tell or record. John writes, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
Hyperbole? Perhaps. But the point is made. “We couldn’t get it all down,” says John, “but here are the necessary parts.”
Beyond events, there are the people. Some are named in Scripture. Some are known to us by their stories, but not their names. Some appear only as “the crowd,” “a widow,” “a child,” and we don’t their names or their stories.
But we do know this: they were humans like us. They had emotions, questions, and predispositions. They were sinners who needed a Savior. At first glance their stories don’t seem so remarkable. They had worries, flaws, sin, and fear, and each of them is described in just a few verses. Some of them we don’t even know by name–the man who owned a donkey outside of Jerusalem, and the criminal on the cross. We might be more familiar with others like Joseph of Arimathea, Simon the (former) leper, and Martha the sister of Lazarus. All of them were regular people who were privileged to honor Jesus during his last days on Earth.
Times have changed, but Jesus has not. It’s good to remember the same Lord who received honor from regular, “unremarkable” people two thousand years ago still delights in the honor given to him by you and me.
I’ve written about it in a five-day devotional I’d love to share with you. It’s called Remembering Holy Week: Five Remarkable Stories of Unremarkable People. Each reading zooms in on one of these lesser-known participants in the Easter story. As you read, I invite you to place yourself in the story. Recline at the table with the guests. Gasp for breath in a fragrance filled room. Kneel in the dirt at Golgotha. Let’s look closely and think carefully about a few of the people Jesus came in contact with in his last few days on Earth—the time we commonly refer to as Holy Week.
If you glimpse yourself in these lesser-known people, be encouraged that there are no insignificant assignments, no ministry too small, no job so messy that Christ will not accept it as a gift of love from you to him.
May you find your Risen Savior more majestic this year and love him more because of it.