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Weekly Devotion - Welcome Home

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The Gift of Holy Week

By Carla Huizenga

Being welcomed home changes everything. If you are a student, you may have had a bad day at school. Maybe you didn’t get the grade you desired or were picked on at recess. Having your parent or loved one open the door when you get home, and give you a big hug saying, “welcome home”, changes the whole day. The sadness, fear and disappointments of the day become an evening of joy and fun.

Maybe you’re a graduate and have been away at college or away at a new job for a few months. You are worried your parents may not approve of some of the choices you've made since you left home. It’s Spring Break and you have apprehensions about going home. As you come up the driveway, you see their door is already open. Your parents, smiling and with open arms, run to meet you saying, “welcome home," and your apprehension melts away.
Perhaps you have been married many years. Your career took you away from your home town soon after marriage. You see your parents only once every 4-5 years. They are sad about this, and you feel guilty about it. They are very elderly now, but every time you go home, they are at the open front door saying “welcome home". They make you feel like you never left.
This unconditional love is what happened during Holy Week for each of us who believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah; that his death was the perfect sacrifice that made it possible for God the Father to say to the believer “Welcome home! The door to heaven is open!” We now have direct access to God the Father and can approach him without fear, without guilt, or apprehension because of Jesus’ death on the cross. What joy for a believer to be welcomed to our heavenly home! (Romans 5:11; John 1; John 14:1-14)
During Holy Week, the work God the Father gave his Son to do on earth is finished. All of the Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled. The events of Holy Week are the foundation of Christianity. It is a week of remembering the last days of Jesus’ earthly life and the events that led to his death and resurrection. It is a week of emotional ups and downs and indescribable joy. It begins with Palm Sunday and ends victoriously with Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday: The Jews are in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Jesus humbly enters the city mounted on a donkey (fulfilling Zechariah 9:9). People/children are waving palm branches (symbolizing victory) shouting hosanna, “blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). The Jews thought an earthly king had come to deliver them from Rome. The following couple of days, Jesus continued to teach his disciples, do miracles, and speak in parables, predicting the eminent establishment of the Kingdom of God and foreshadowing his own death (Mark 11). The chief priests become more agitated, threatened, and question Jesus’ authority. On Wednesday, the Bible reveals the disciple Judas would betray Jesus and deliver him to the Jewish leaders.
Maundy Thursday: Maundy comes from Latin, meaning "commandment". Jesus tells his disciples: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34). Jesus also tells the disciples one of them will betray him. It was an intimate time with his disciples. Jesus institutes and models the first Lord's Supper (Matthew 26) which we often celebrate today when we meet together. Jesus also foretells to his disciples the events that will follow.
Good Friday: The day we commemorate Christ’s death on the cross. The Jews were in such disbelief and the Jewish leaders so threatened by Jesus that they had him hung on a cross (John 19). Jesus utters several audible statements on the cross, but the last one, “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30) means he had accomplished what God had sent him to earth to do. “This accomplishment was sufficient to save all who believe on him from eternal death.” (You are Never Alone workbook p. 93, Max Lucado)
Easter Sunday: Commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 20). On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene finds Jesus’ tomb empty. She runs to report this to the disciples Peter and John. They went to the tomb to witness this, but the disciples, still not understanding scripture, go home. However, Jesus reveals himself to Mary and she reports this to the disciples. Later that day, Jesus reveals himself to the disciples in a room where they were meeting (John 20:19). All but Thomas were there. When he heard about this, he doubted and wanted to see the nail prints in Jesus' hands and put his hand in the holes in his side where Jesus was pierced, in order to be convinced (John 20:20). Eight days later, Jesus appeared to his disciples and showed Thomas his scars. Thomas believed.
Today many believe and others continue to doubt what Jesus Christ has done for the repentant believer. For those who believe that Christ’s death wiped away their sin and gave them eternal salvation, God says, “Welcome Home!”