I will never understand picky eaters! Growing up in my family, the rule was “no dessert until you finish your plate.” I remember the hours my sister spent playing with her food while eyeing the cheesecake on the kitchen counter. She was never allowed to enjoy it until her meal was completely gobbled up. Just to torment her, I always made sure to eat my piece of cake in the chair directly across the table and I would take my sweet time enjoying the strawberry drizzled goodness.
I have always been a good eater. In fact, so good, that over time the cheesecake began to feel less and less like a reward. The certainty of dessert was too expected to be special. Meanwhile, my sister longed for that cake. Although I never understood why it was difficult for her to eat the meal that our parents prepared, her struggle was no joke. It took her hours to eat dinner, taking another bite every five minutes. Eventually, she powered through the meal and was finally able to enjoy the dessert that she so desperately wanted.
In a nutshell, this is the story of Holy Week. Some Christians want to skip the torment and discomfort of the Cross and go directly into Easter. Like me, they want to get through the main course as quickly as they can and get to the good stuff, the dessert. The messiness of the Cross and the reality of death are not things we want to dwell on, but they are central components of our faith. Maybe my sister was on to something? It may have taken her forever to eat her dinner, but the prize idea of dessert never grew numb. The longer we stay fixed on the Cross, the more satisfying Easter morning is. We need to hear the story of Jesus’ death before we can celebrate the resurrection.
Beginning with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, this Sunday we start our journey of following Jesus to the Cross. On Thursday, we will feel Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, hear Jesus’ new commandment to love, and taste the first Lord’s Supper. This will lead us to Friday, where Jesus is placed on the Cross for all to see. Hope sustains us, propels us forward through Maundy Thursday into Good Friday. Hope is what carries us through until we finally get our delicious treat of sugary splendidness. Hope is the defining characteristic that makes us followers of Christ. As people of hope, we remain confident in the arrival of Easter. No matter how long Holy Week seems to last, dessert is on its way. Soon, we will be feasting on the Good News of the empty tomb!
Come, savor the meal!