There was a time, many eons ago, when I was a young, strapping athlete (exaggeration) in high school. The sport was Water Polo. Beyond getting past the idea of running around outside in a speedo, there was that dreaded week before the season officially started; the week when you would work so hard that you couldn’t tell if you were getting in shape or digging your own grave—they called it “hell week.” Hell week was the week of intense preparation for the season ahead. This week was hard, exhausting, and physically demanding.
I believe in life, we have all encountered weeks like this; weeks that feel as though the enemy is winning on one level or another; weeks we’d rather erase or avoid altogether. Well, Jesus’ final week on earth, by any human standards, would have been considered such. There was probably a moment where it appeared as though Hell won the battle for humanity. In reality, it was one of the most heavenly weeks in human history. There’s never been a week where so much pain and so much glory, so much loss and so much victory coincided together in such divine harmony. This Easter, we remember and celebrate His final week where our victory was won, salvation secured, and condemnation erased!
Have you ever considered how much the very first week of Jesus involvement with humanity and His very last week on earth parallel each other?
- The first week, God through Christ created all things visible and invisible, and His creation was “very good.” The final week of Jesus’ life was the beginning of a new creation. The pain and separation that sin had brought into God’s “very good” world was being dealt with by the Creator Himself to redeem His creation from death and destruction.
- The first week of creation, God breathed His own breath into Adam to bring man’s spirit to life. In Jesus’ last moments, He breathed His final breath as the last Adam to pave the way for the Holy Spirit to be breathed into man, bringing our dead souls to life.
- The first week God stood and walked with man in His perfect world. In Jesus’ last week, He washed the feet of those who walked in a fallen world.
- In the first week, God and man enjoyed unhindered fellowship in a garden. In His final week, the tears of God flowed, and His sweat, like drops of blood, fell in a garden so that our broken fellowship would be restored.
- The first week, God looked at all of His creation and said, “It is very good.” The last week, Jesus looked up to heaven and uttered the words, “It is finished.”
- In the first week, God rested from all His work. In the last week, the body of Jesus rested in a grave. On the first day of the week, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. On the first day of the last week, God said, “Let there be life,” and eternal life sprung forth as Jesus rose from the grave!
Not only did that final week of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection change the trajectory of the world, it changed the trajectory of our lives and eternal destinies! It changed our identities. Events that took place 2000 years ago brought us all to a place we could have never hoped or imagined to ever be—at peace with God, at peace with others, and at peace with ourselves. We have been forgiven of the shameful and sinful things we’ve done and are on our way into perfect, eternal life with the perfect, eternal God. And all because God, in one week of human history, willingly took the road toward the unthinkable and the unimaginable.
If it isn’t mind-boggling enough that God came down, surrendering the glory of heaven for a human body, He also chose to live His human life as a slave, the lowest level citizen, instead of a royal King. Instead of forcing His reign over us, His kingdom came in the form of walking alongside us in our mess, and even walking below us as He served the undeserving; people with problems, people with pain, people with messed up lives and messed up pasts, rejects, and sinners.
We love Jesus for how He lived, but the ultimate act of service, sacrifice, and final victory was how He died and ultimately conquered death. That final week, He could have taken His kingship over humanity by force but instead inaugurated it through unfathomable, sacrificial love. When He comes again, He will come as a conquering warrior, but aren’t you glad He first came as a suffering servant? He took the road of servanthood, suffering, and sacrifice. Instead of embracing glory, He embraced rejection, shame, humiliation, and human injustice. He embraced wrath so we might know mercy. He chose the path we would never choose to become the path that leads us back to God.
None of us will ever fully understand the glory and weight of the final week of our Savior, but may we stand in awe and give Him the honor and praise He alone deserves for walking that week with obedience, resolve, and love. Our lives will never be the same.