George Bowers Sr.: The greatest week in human history
If you had to identify one week in world history that was the greatest, which week would you choose? Would it be the week of D-Day or Germany’s final surrender? Would it be the week that Alexander the Great took charge, foreshadowing his eventual kingdom? Would it be the week of the Battle of Hastings that began the Norman Conquest? These and many others certainly vie for the title of Greatest Week in Human History.
There is one week, however, that overshadows all the others and we are on the doorstep of its anniversary. It is often referred to as Holy Week, although some most unholy things occurred. It begins Sunday with Palm Sunday, builds through the Last Supper and prayer in Gethsemane, intensifies through the arrest, trial, crucifixion and burial of Jesus, and climaxes with his resurrection next Sunday. So many important events took place that week nearly 2,000 years ago that continue to shape our living, dying, and eternal existence.
It’s ironic that the people welcomed Jesus as their king on Sunday with great praise and honor, only to offer him up for crucifixion before the week was out. Such a dramatic turn of events could not have been more craftily written, nor theatrically performed by even Hollywood’s best.
On Thursday of this week, Jesus showed his disciples the full extent of his love by washing their feet as he shared his last supper and instituted the bread and cup of Holy Communion. During their time in the upper room, he gave them a new command to love each other as he had loved them and told them [and us] repeatedly that if they loved him, they would keep his commands.
Later that night the best friend the world has ever known was betrayed by one of his and handed over to the authorities. The judge of all the Earth was judged by creatures he had created. Having been framed by envy and hatred, the savior was stripped and beaten early Friday morning. He was mockingly crowned with thorns and insulted by those who knew better. He was brutally flogged as all the hatred and ugliness of mankind was unloaded upon him.
By 9 a.m. on Friday morning, they had nailed the king of creation to a tree he himself had grown, with nails fashioned from iron he had formed in the earth. As he hung there in agony, he was repeatedly ridiculed and before the day was over, the sky turned black as the lord of life gave up the ghost. Not only was the weight of his body pulling against those nails, but he wore an invisible backpack with the infinite burden of every sin that had ever or would ever be committed.
Before sundown, his lifeless body was dutifully lowered, wrapped and buried in a borrowed grave so as to not dampen the Passover celebration. All that night and all day Saturday, His body lay entombed in the prison of death that claimed every human soul since Adam’s fall. But during that time, Jesus descended to wrest the keys of death from that old serpent, the devil.
And before sunrise on Sunday morning, the sealed tomb burst open as Jesus conquered man’s worst enemy and gained victory over death that all have longed for. Never before or since has anyone died for the sins of all people. Never before or since has anyone come forth from the grave under his own power. And never before or since has anyone promised that same victory to all who trust in him.
The events of that one week have transformed human history as nothing else has ever done. They have given the promise of life beyond the grave, forgiveness of human sin, and future restoration of all creation. They have repaired the broken relationship between mankind and our creator and brought peace to whoever will receive it. Holy Week truly was the greatest week in human history. Make the time to observe it with other believers in church and live into the reality of what Jesus did for each of us during this special week.
In Jesus, George
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.