ALMIGHTY God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On this Monday before Easter, we prayed that Jesus suffered pain for us. A temptation for Christians involves shying away from pain as much as possible in the falsehood that temporal or worldly joys are to be our chief pursuit. We see this with popular Christian books speaking of every day being like Friday and so forth. It is no wonder some parts of the Church frown upon the Church Year and the emphasis upon looking upon every aspect of God’s work of redemption through Jesus Christ in time. The objection often sounds like this, “Why should we have people tell us what to meditate upon for a given day? I can study and meditate upon what Jesus did for us according to my own timeline.” In the end, this promotes a divided Church where every person does what is right in his or her own eyes. Yes, some people may consistently look to all that Jesus did for us in their private devotions or through the sermons of their pastors. Yet, in many ways, much is neglected when we are left to fend for ourselves spiritually. Holy Week teaches us that the work of God for humanity occurred in history through a timetable established by God. He did this to save us. Saving us required Jesus suffering a great deal of pain for us through the Cross. Such was not up to us or a committee of people to determine if God’s plan met all the proper standards for what people think is best. No, Jesus in order to conquer death submitted to death for us. If it were up to us, we would have sided with Peter through initially objecting to the idea that Jesus would die at the hands of His enemies. Thank God such is not up to us.
Conversely, this painful suffering for us before the joy of the Resurrection means we look at our daily living as preparing for the Second Advent of Christ. This also as Jesus promised before His Ascension would mean suffering and pain that we endure as Christians. Yes, there are moments of joy. The Church year and specifically Holy Week teaches us that we too are called to walk in the way of the cross. In this walking in Christ through suffering for His sake and for each other in loving obedience, we will find as we pray this day the true way of life and peace in Jesus Christ. We find that we cannot earn it. He earned it fully and completely so that we now as His people no longer have the burden on our backs of how we are going to pay off our debt of sin. It has been paid for completely and fully, through His suffering for us.