This is it! This is what the whole Church year rushes toward and flows from! The Paschal Triduum, the three days beginning on the evening of Maundy Thursday and concluding with the Easter Vigil on Saturday.
It began all the way back at the beginning of December with the Gospel reading for the first Sunday in Advent. It probably sounds familiar since you heard it this past Sunday as well. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. The Son of David coming to answer the cries of “Hosanna” and to save you now!
It didn’t stop with Advent either! Christmas celebrates these holy days. Jesus christ, born of the virgin Mary becomes man for you. He is placed under the Law and fulfills it for you. He is named Jesus--Yahweh saves--as His flesh is broken and blood is poured. 40 days after His birth Jesus is presented at the temple and Simeon proclaims that he can now depart in peace for he has seen the salvation prepared for all people.
Then come the Magi bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts point to the Triduum too. The gold confesses that Jesus has “purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” The frankincense confesses Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice, soothing the nose of God, burning in wrath at our sinfulness and unbelief. Myrrh is the strange gift that young Jesus received from the magi: a burial spice. You don’t think about the death of a young child unless that is what the child came to do--to die for you, and to die for all of fallen creation.
Jesus is baptized by John in the waters of the Jordan river. People would come and be baptized by John leaving their sins in the waters of the Jordan. Jesus is baptized to pick those sins up and take them upon himself as he continues to move toward the cross. The season of Epiphany ends with Jesus transfigured on the mountain top. Moses and Elijah appear and talk with him about His death on Good Friday. From the mountain Christ sets His eyes toward Jerusalem and His death on the cross for you!
Now here we are in the season of Lent. It began with Jesus overcoming the devil’s temptation for you. The Canaanite woman’s faith receives the crumbs from her master’s table and Christ drives out the demon who is possessing her daughter. The Lord continues to drive out demons, give His gifts and forgive sins!
That leads us to this week. It began the same way the church year began, with palms, shouts of ‘Hosanna!’ and a lowly king riding into Jerusalem with His eyes set on the cross to save you. Maundy Thursday he absolves us and institutes His supper. He gives you His body broken for you on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. He bids you drink His blood which is shed for you for the remission of all your sins. Finally comes Good Friday. The cross that the whole church year has been leading up to--which the remainder of the church year points to. The cross of Christ is what our whole theology is centered on and flows from. His body is pierced with nails and a spear for you. Water and blood flow with forgiveness. Your forgiveness and salvation is won there. On that cross, Jesus dies in your place to rescue you from death and the devil.
But death could not hold Him! The victory remains with life! Christ rises again for you! You die and rise too in baptism.
The rest of the church year points back to Christ’s death and resurrection for you. We celebrate this Triduum each week as we keep time with the church year until the Lord returns. Your pastor absolves your sins. Preaches the word to you. Delivers to you the body and blood of Christ which was broken and shed for you on the cross.
That’s the church year. That’s our theology. Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for you! Your death and resurrection in the waters of baptism! Christ’s gifts of forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life given to you during Holy Week and every other week of the year.
Jonathan Kohlmeier is a member of Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Greenfield, WI. He loves the church year and how it points to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for him. Jon is also Webmaster for Higher Things and producer of HT-Radio.
Created: March 28th, 2013