|Jesus mocked by the soldiers - Edouard Manet|
According to the church calendar Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday (which was this past Sunday) and extends throughout the week leading up to Easter. It includes the celebrations of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Our pastor has been preaching through the book of John this month and I've been bowled over almost every week by the extreme grace, love and service Jesus extended to sinners, outcasts, and "undesirables".
In particular the story of the woman caught in adultery left me completely amazed. What happens is that the Jewish religious leaders bring to Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery. Jesus and the leaders then have this little exchange about what to do with this woman. You can read the whole story in John 8, but what I'd like to draw your attention to is what happens after Jesus talks with the leaders:
They went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” - John 8:9-11
What grace. Here is the son of God, perfect, sinless, the only one who could rightfully condemn this woman for her very serious moral failing and yet all he has to say to her is "I do not condemn you. Go on your way and don't do that again." He's probably the only person she knew for the rest of her life who didn't condemn her for what she had done.
Our church plant is hosting a Maundy Thursday dinner on Thursday and our mother church is hosting a Tenebrae service on Friday and I'm thinking about going to the Easter Vigil on Saturday night at our local Catholic parish. And of course, as Snider tradition dictates, Silas and I will probably work in a viewing of Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell. But throughout all of these celebrations I'm keeping Jesus's words to this woman close to my heart: "I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more."
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.
- from How Deep the Father's Love for Us.
P.S. If you're looking for some good Holy Week readings, I found this list to be helpful.