In addition to the prophecies of the Old Testament that foretold the sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus Himself frequently shared with His disciples that part of His mission to accomplish the salvation of humanity would necessarily include His suffering, death, and resurrection. During our midweek Lenten worship services, we will be looking at the times when Jesus foretold His suffering, death, and resurrection, and the ways in which these predictions influenced those around Him. As we walk toward the cross with Jesus this week, Peter declares that Jesus is both Christ and God, but then stumbles moments later when he encourages Jesus to not undertake His work of suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus’ response shows that His plan and purpose of our salvation necessarily includes the events that will take place on Holy Week.
Good Friday is a time of somber reflection as we approach the mystery of the cross. But the austerity of the Good Friday liturgy should not obscure the fact that this is a death we celebrate because of the forgiveness and life that flow from the cross for us and for our salvation. Good Friday is not an isolated event: it is part of God’s planned revelation of His love, salvation, and deliverance, foretold by Jesus when He reminded His disciples that He would indeed suffer, be crucified and die, and then be raised to life again after three days. Just as Jesus shared with His disciples this complete story, so too is our service today part of the complete story: what was begun on Maundy Thursday carries through our service today and will not be complete until Easter. Just as we received the Word of God yesterday, so too do we commit as we hear His Word today to watching and waiting in hope, making our plans to worship anew on Easter morning.
The Vigil of Easter, celebrated at the end of Holy Saturday as the conclusion to the sacred Triduum, ushers in the celebration of the Queen of Feasts, the Resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Sunday. The Vigil of Easter connects the days of Holy Week, especially Holy Thursday and Good Friday, with the ultimate celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In some places throughout the early centuries of the Church’s life, the people of God would hold vigil, which means “keep watch,” through the night in expectation of Christ’s return. Through this season we have followed Jesus on His Road to the Cross. Here, at the Easter Vigil, we find the end of that road. And more than that, we find the dawn soon to break, revealing a new road, the road to the Resurrection to Eternal Life. On this Easter vigil, we join with Jesus celebrating His victory over hell death and the power of the devil. A Victory won by Him, but not for his own sake, but for the sake of all those He loves. Behold the Lamb of God who brings His light to an ever-darkening world. At the dawn of the new day at Easter sunrise, the entire Church joins in the chorus of alleluias at Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
He is Risen……He is Risen Indeed!