This Sunday is Palm Sunday, signifying the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem when His followers laid palm branches on the road to welcome Him as He entered the city like a king. It was the beginning of a most eventful “passion week,” as it would later be called. Only a few days later, the crowd that cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” would be yelling, “Crucify Him!” And Jesus would innocently go to the cross to die a murderous death on our behalf.
Of course, three days later He arose, conquering death and the grave, and we celebrate the hope of the empty tomb every year in our commemoration of Easter, as we will do on April 16. But there’s something about the events that led up to Easter–most specifically, the cross–that we cannot ignore. Why, we may wonder, did Jesus have to die such a cruel death on the cross? What was the significance of the blood that He shed?
I read a true story recently that reminded me of the answer to that old question, and brought the truth home with powerful emotion. Several years ago in Ontario, Canada, George and Vera Bajenksi’s lives were changed forever. It was February 16, 1989, a very normal Thursday morning. The phone rang at 9:15 a.m. “There’s been an accident…” It involved their son Ben.
As they approached the scene of the accident, they could see the flashing lights of police cars and ambulance units. When they rounded the corner, Vera saw the largest pool of blood she had ever seen. All she could say was, “George, Ben went home—home to be with His Heavenly Father.” Indeed, her son had perished in the accident.
She later wrote that her first reaction was to jump out of the car, somehow try to collect the blood and put it back into her son’s lifeless body. “That blood, for me, at that moment, became the most precious thing in the world because it was life. It was life-giving blood and it belonged in my son, my only son, the one I loved so much.”
The road was dirty and the blood just didn’t belong there. George noticed that some of the cars that were trying to drive through the intersection were driving right through the blood. He wanted to cover the blood with his coat and cry, “You will not drive over the blood of my son!”
Then Vera understood for the first time in her life one of God’s greatest and most beautiful truths. Why blood? Why is the blood of Jesus so important in the message of the gospel? Because it was the strongest language God could have used. It was the most precious thing He could give–the highest price He could pay.
It was because of God’s amazing love, and through the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, that we were redeemed. (1 Peter 1:18-19). As the hymn writer Robert Lowry wrote so long ago:
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
My prayer for each of us this week is that we would never forget the incredible sacrifice the Father has made, nor carelessly trample upon the blood of God’s Son (Hebrews 10:29). May your “passion week” ahead remind you of how deeply you are loved, and may you live a life worthy of the gift you have been given.
I look forward to seeing you on Palm Sunday.