For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:35)
If Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ triumphal ascent to the Jerusalem heights, the rest of Holy Week quickly tells the story of descent. Within a span of six days Jesus experiences betrayal, abandonment and denial; he is arrested, mocked, beaten, and ultimately killed. At the end of the week we celebrate the triumph of the empty tomb, but if we forget the experience of his agony in the garden and his suffering on the cross, we can move from celebration to celebration without experiencing the downward path he chose. And yet this downward path is what he asks his disciples to embrace as well. In choosing him, we are asked to die ourselves.
Time and time again, Scripture testifies that God is like a Father who desires the good of his children and as a good Father, God also knows how we are to order our lives to bring about the kind of flourishing of his Kingdom. The commands and council revealed throughout the ages are not given as a means of stifling or suppressing our humanity, but as a means of securing our freedom. As Paul writes, it is “for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). As we walk with Jesus toward the cross this holy week, let us consider that the surrender we are called to practice is what Jesus himself chose. It is an invitation to trust that in losing the lives we try to fashion for ourselves, we will find the only life that satisfies our deepest longings.
SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Prayer of Surrender
As you enter your time of prayer, look to the cross. Consider the journey that Jesus undertook at the beginning of the week, knowing that his choice to enter Jerusalem was the choice to willingly surrender his body to the pain of the cross and the coldness of the grave.
Ask him for the courage and strength to follow.