When I was a kid, growing up in Washington, D.C., the most important Sunday of the year was Easter. My mom and sister sang in the large church choir, they brought in extra orchestra instruments, flowers, and the entire service was a huge production. It was also that time of the year when everyone got a new Sunday outfit. It was a big deal! Second only to Easter, was the special service held the Sunday before on what everyone called Palm Sunday. We actually had palm branches laid out in the aisle to help commemorate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem just days before His tragic death. These were both special Sundays and they virtually disappeared from my life from 1964 on, once I began my life and career with the Restoration heritage Christians, primarily the Church of Christ. They had a tradition of not recognizing nearly all religious special days – at least publicly, but most folks still celebrated Christmas and Easter as families. It is interesting to see so many in our heritage rediscovering the value of using special days as a tool to create interest, connections, and witness to others who only visit on special days.
I’m tempted to write a lot more about the pros and cons of special religious days, but that is not what I want to challenge you to think about. In my lesson for this coming Sunday morning, I will be discussing the death and burial of Jesus. It’s the forth part of a short series leading up to lesson five, the Resurrection – next Sunday. If you get a couple of minutes in the next couple days, read Matthew’s account of all the things leading up to the death of Jesus. It begins with Palm Sunday, in Matthew 21, which we call the Triumphal Entry. It’s when people lined the streets, placing palm branches and clothing down in the street in front of him, and they shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” I have often thought about how ironic it was that one crowd screamed words of praise about Jesus and just days later another crowd was screaming “Crucify him!” What went wrong between Sunday and late Thursday night? How could things deteriorate so quickly? How could he go from being “Hosanna in the highest” to a beaten criminal crucified between two thieves?
Someone wanted him dead, but God had another plan! That Friday afternoon death and burial turned into another Sunday of shouting “Hosanna in the highest!” Here is my point for Sunday. If the death and burial of Jesus are not undeniable facts – then the resurrection becomes suspect and our witness is damaged.