Holy Week refers to Christianity’s annual commemoration of the final week of Jesus’ life leading to his death on the cross on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

This entire week is a reminder that Christianity isn’t just a global religion with churches and rituals. Rather, Christianity is a story. In fact, it’s a saving story. That’s what we mean when we talk about the “gospel,” which refers to the good news about what Jesus came to do.

Christianity is the story of God, the Creator of the entire universe, taking on humanity’s flesh in the form of Jesus, dying on the cross as a result of humanity’s sin, rising from the dead as humanity’s savior, and being enthroned as King of an entirely new kind of kingdom in which everything is new.

That all blows my mind!

The observable universe measures approximately 93 billion light years in diameter and it’s expanding all the time at speeds we can’t even understand. That’s a lot of territory to manage, but God cared enough about the people he made in his own image to come and get right in the middle of our mess.

He entered into the story of ancient Israel and became the long-awaited Messiah who would finally, once and for all, free us from the bondage of sin, vice, and violence.

God walked among us, showing us a better way to live – the way of love. He was baptized to show us a way to symbolize our decision to follow him and to become a brand new creation. He taught, healed, and loved people.

And then, because the way of love was so radical, offensive, and threatening to the power of empire, he was executed by crucifixion. He became the object of the wrath and violence and corruption of humanity. Why? To save humanity!

He was buried in a tomb and on the very first Easter Sunday morning, he rose again from the dead. His resurrection is the guarantee of the promise that there is absolutely life beyond death.

After his resurrection, he was enthroned as King of an entirely new kind of kingdom, the likes of which the world has never seen, where his teachings could be adopted and lived out by all who wish to enter God’s family.

Further, he poured out the power of God’s Spirit upon his followers so that we would never struggle on our own to be the renewed people of God. He is ever-present with his church.

This is all the good news, the gospel. It’s the saving story of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, saving the world through his own death, burial, resurrection, and eternal reign.

And someday, the entire cosmos will experience the goodness of his saving and renewing work. The New Testament declares that “God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 NRSV).

You may or may not believe this story. You and I certainly can’t ever fully understand it from our earthly, time-bound perspective. But Jesus proved to be trustworthy, so what we can do is trust him.

And when you trust him, everything is different. Everything is new. Hope is restored. Heaven awaits. Rebirth occurs.

So this Holy Week isn’t about becoming more religious. It isn’t about gathering for awe-inspiring weekend worship services. And it isn’t about going through rituals to try to prove how faithful we can be to God.

This week is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, saving the world. And it’s a good week to practice loving everybody else the way God does.

Photo by Carlo Alberto Burato on Unsplash.