We are in the middle of Holy Week right now and there are two words that capture the emotions I feel walking through it every year – bright sadness.
I think it was Ann Voskamp who originally penned those words, but they have resonated in my heart since I first read them.
This used to be a week of pure joy for me. I was always full of anticipation for Easter baskets, family gatherings, and the end of whatever fasting I had chosen for Lent.
And it is still a week of anticipation, but now I have a deeper experience in this pre-Easter week, as I remember the journey to the cross. A journey that is filled with bright sadness.
A Holy Week of Bright Sadness
In this case, you can’t have one without the other.
You can’t have the bright, triumphant entry of Jesus riding into Jerusalem through a sea of waving palm branches without remembering that His crucifixion is just days away.
My breath catches as I proclaim, “Hosanna in the highest!” because I know that it’s another step closer to Calvary, where the least deserving man of all time took the punishment of the world on His shoulders.
This is the week I come face to face with my sins, the very sins that nailed Jesus to that cross.
Jesus Plus Nothing
It is the week when I remember the answer to all of the questions in my life is Jesus plus nothing.
It is the week that I grapple with my humanity, once again coming to grips with the fact that my effort and accomplishments don’t determine my worth, He does.
This man, fully human and all God, wept in the days leading up to His death, not for His own suffering, but over lost souls as He spoke the words, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42)
While we were busy striving for power, success, and recognition, He gave us peace and redemption in an act of selfless sacrifice on our behalf.
We did nothing to deserve it, yet He still gave everything – for you, for me, for all.
I don’t always identify with these people of Jerusalem, praising Him one minute and yelling, “Crucify Him!” the next. I don’t understand how they didn’t see what was right in front of them – the Prince of Peace, the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father. I’m jealous they had the opportunity to see God in the flesh, to stand right there alongside Him and hear the timbre of His voice, when I have ached for that same opportunity time and time again and they just ruined it. They loved Him when it was convenient and cast Him aside the second it wasn’t.
And in the same thought, I realize I am guilty of the same thing.
No, Jesus isn’t physically sitting right beside me, but don’t I praise Him in joy, but grumble when His plan doesn’t match up with my own? I do. More times than I’d like to admit.
It doesn’t take much to bring out my humanity. My weakness. My selfishness. My sin.
I bring the sadness to this Holy Week. He brings the light.
And the best news of all is that His light is more than enough to cast out all of my darkness, which is enough to make my soul sing…
but not yet.
During Holy Week, I remember. I wrestle. I break. And I offer up all of my brokenness to Him because He broke for me in this perfect dichotomy of bright sadness.