The theme of the divine service for the departed at the beginning of March draws our attention to the offer of salvation founded upon the suffering and death of Christ: His sacrifice makes it possible for all human beings to be reconciled with God. In order to attain this reconciliation, however, it is necessary to believe in Jesus Christ and receive the sacraments.
The three ensuing divine services are all about the Passion of Jesus Christ. We thereby commemorate the suffering of Christ and its effects. In the second divine service of the month, the focus is on Holy Communion, which Jesus instituted in the circle of His disciples. This supper is the basis for our celebration of Holy Communion in the divine service.
The further events of salvation history relating to Passiontide include Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, His arrest and trial, the sentence pronounced over Him, the associated mocking and scourging, and ultimately His walk to Golgotha and His cruel death on the cross.
The divine service on Palm Sunday reminds us of how Jesus entered into Jerusalem amid the great cheers of the crowds. Like the people in the time of Jesus, we too have certain expectations of God. Often we do not understand His actions. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
On Good Friday we commemorate the death of Jesus. This event makes it seem as though evil has won—but it is precisely in this situation of abasement that the majesty of Jesus becomes clear. Jesus Christ is the true King, who truly rules and suffers for His own!
The celebration of Easter is the highpoint of the church year. It is a celebration of resurrection and the hope for life. After the ignominious crucifixion of Jesus, evil seemed to have triumphed over good. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, however, demonstrates the power of God over evil and death. This resurrection gives believers the justified hope in their own resurrection and eternal life.