Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’—Luke 22:39-46

If you came to today’s devotion hoping for a glimpse of Easter, you will have to read to the end. It’s Monday in Holy Week and a lot will happen between now and Easter Sunday. This week speaks into my soul in a way that many of you may not expect. This week draws into such a clear focus for me the lengths at which God will go for all of God’s people. I carry with me Peter’s denial because I have no doubt that I too would deny Jesus if I thought it would save my life. I have no doubt that I would fall asleep while Jesus was praying because of grief and guilt and a full number of emotions.

I come to the Easter celebration carrying these truths with me. I carry with me the death of my Savior. I carry with me the tomb being sealed. It takes the repeated proclamation of “Alleluia, Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed, Alleluia!” for those truths to be broken open so that I can enter into the celebration that is Easter. It takes these moments for me to be able to peer into the empty tomb and try to make sense of what has happened. It takes these moments to recognize that Christ died for me and has been raised to new life so that my baptismal promise is true, this is from the Funeral service in ELW: “When we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

The Holy Week days are more than important to me, they are essential! Without the darkness, without the confession and absolution, without the reminder that those closest to Jesus failed him, without the reminder that at the altar we receive Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins, without the moments to kneel at the cross, without the moments to reflect on the fact that Jesus died for me, and without the time to face my own denial and inability to stay awake, I will not be ready. I need these moments to be broken open again by the empty tomb.

I look forward to gathering with you this week so that together we can journey through death into life and proclaim that “Christ is risen indeed” on Easter morning.

God’s Peace, Pastor Steve