by Dr. Piotr Zaremba
Palm Sunday is a big thing in Poland. Just like in the Catholic church worldwide, people go to mass with palms. What palms, you could ask? No real palms to be had in Poland, surely!
But Polish people are quite ingenious. They fashion the palms out of reeds and willow branches, sometimes with new catkins bursting out, with plenty of color from flowers and dried herbs woven in. It’s a whole production!
See a video of this here, for example.
Jesus’ first day of Passover Week, our Palm Sunday, is recorded in Mt 21:1-11 and Mark 21:10.
The day was a triumph. Crowds came out to support their favorite influencer. But it is worth noting that our Lord was not led astray by this popularity. He wasn’t looking for it; He wasn’t dependent on it.
He was bent on fulfilling His Father’s plan. He did not achieve salvation for us while He was on the top, at the peak of His popularity. He did it while on a despised cross. Impossible to go lower than that.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us not seek to be popular—but faithful to who we are in Christ.
After spending the night in Bethany, Jesus got up Monday morning to head to Jerusalem. This second day of the Passover week is recorded in Mt 21:12-17; Mk 11:12-19.
On that day, Jesus had some business to attend to. He was about to cleanse the Temple. Quite a change from the day before, wasn’t it? Palm Sunday’s triumph could have made Him think twice. Maybe ruffling His followers’ feathers wasn’t the smartest move? But Jesus’ priorities were strong enough for Him to resist the temptation to play to the crowd.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us check where our priorities are as His disciples.
Monday night, Jesus slept outside of the city. The following day, He took off to Jerusalem again, somewhat hungry. This third day of the Passover week is recorded in Mt 21:18-26:5; Mk 11:20-13:37.
Wow, that was such a full day! It’s hard to keep track of all the controversies and comebacks. It must have been stressful for Jesus, but it is a lesson for us. We learn about His sharp mind, prophetic insight, and the way he would just cut through the partisan noise with His on-point remarks. He’s definitely our role model for handling opposition with efficiency.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us strive to give Him room in ourselves so that He can express who He is through us.
Wednesday’s sun woke Jesus up in Bethany, among friends, possibly gathering strength for the coming trial. This fourth day of the Passover week is recorded in Mt 26:6-16; Mk 14:1-11.
That day, Judas started to negotiate with Jewish leaders the price for betraying his friend. This is why in the Czech Republic, they call that day Ugly Wednesday.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us remind ourselves that all sorts of days, bright and dark, beautiful and ugly, are all under God’s control to bring us to our goal.
Thursday came, and Jesus was again with his friends, most probably in Bethany, for the last time before this death. From Bethany, He would start a day of preparation that would culminate in the Passover meal shared with his friends. Some time afterward, He would be delivered straight into the jaws of the brutal establishment.
The fifth day of the Passover week is recorded in Mt 26:17-75; Mk 14:12-72.
This particular Passover meal was Jesus’ farewell supper with His disciples. The night was bringing its own nightmares. But even though Jesus was aware of what lay ahead, He turned this last supper into a lasting commemoration of the unprecedented Act of Redemption.
The name of this day comes from Latin mandatum, ‘commandment,’ because Jesus left His friends with a legacy commandment. Do you remember what it was? John writes about it at length in his gospel and again in his First Epistle.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us be inspired by His creativity and ability to turn the last events into everlasting legacies.
Thursday night was sleepless for Jesus. Friday night, He was laid in His grave. Well, not His, to be exact—it was a donated plot. That day was full of R-rated violence, cold indifference, ugly cowardice from His close ones, and simple opportunism.
The sixth day of the Passover week is recorded in Mt 27:1-66; Mk 15:1-47.
One could ask, "Who on earth called this Friday a good one?" And such a question would make sense. But the truth is, we all know the hardships suffered by our parents have made life comfortable for us, the lives of our soldiers make freedom our destiny, and the pain of our Lord has introduced eternity into our reality.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us choose hardships some days if it means that others will call them good.
Jesus spent this day in His grave. Well, it was Jesus’ body in that tomb, to be precise. Jesus himself was probably quite busy in the world unseen.
This seventh day of the Passover week is recorded in Mt 27:1-66; Mk 15:1-47.
Some people call that Saturday black. No wonder. After all, for the disciples, it represented at least 12 dark hours of dying hopes and dreams. Remember the colorful palms people bring to church on Palm Sunday? It is customary for priests to burn them on Black Saturday—all the artistry and effort vanishes in a puff of smoke. Resurrection? Nobody knew it was possible, even though Jesus brought others to life on several occasions.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us consider “we were crucified with Christ” and learn to be patient. Sometimes our “dying hopes” need the “twelve hours” of silence. Especially since our God loves to give them back to us “as if risen from the dead.”
Resurrection Sunday is called differently around the world. But nearly always, among many other epithets, it is called the Great or Glorious Sunday.
The seventh day of the Passover week is recorded in Mt 28:1-20; Mk 16:1-20.
This particular Sunday is great for hundreds of reasons. One of them is especially important to us. On Friday, the last Adam died. On Sunday morning, the Second Man rose to life.
As we identify with our Lord this week, let us rise to creative living—no longer as previous Adams but as brand new human beings, transformed by the Spirit of God.
About the Author
Dr. Piotr Zaremba and his team of translators lead the first Evangelical project of Bible translation for Polish-speaking people around the world, with over a million copies in various formats in circulation worldwide. Piotr graduated from a Christian Academy of Theology in Warsaw, Poland, with a degree in Protestant Theology and later played a vital role in planting 5 churches, and is the pastor of the K5N Church in Poland.
Piotr’s other contributions to the church in Poland include: teaching Systematic Theology and Ethics in the Baptist Seminary, teaching Hebrew at Poznan State University, 17 years of translating and writing of Christian theological books, devotional and study materials, smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union, and research conducted on the Minor Prophets Scroll found in the Judean Desert and the Psalms scrolls.
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