Holy Week

Easter is coming. But unlike the Christmas season, Easter doesn’t have as many of the rich traditions that help us anticipate Christ’s death and resurrection. On today’s episode, Andrew Peterson helps us bridge the gap between what we read in the gospel and how these events have direct implications for how we live every single day.

When you listen, you’ll also hear him talk about how he connects with Christ through music and the sense of feeling God’s presence in historic Christian places that are no longer active today.

More from Andrew Peterson

  • As Easter approaches, we encourage you to prepare your heart to celebrate the Resurrection through Andrew Peterson’s album Resurrection Letters, Vol. 1.
  • You can also view a video of one of the most powerful songs on the album here (Is He Worthy?).
  • Listen to the full radio series with more clips and messages on living with resurrection power here. 

You can also find the podcast on …

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The power of the resurrection is now in the lives of those who believe in Jesus. But what does that really mean? This sermon by Darrell Johnson was featured on Haven Today on the Monday and Tuesday following Easter 2020. It’s now posted here in its entirety.

Click here to listen to Haven’s full series on the good news of the resurrection.

Darrell Johnson is a retired pastor and professor, speaker, author and mentor of young pastors. He is a grandfather married to Sharon. In these COVID-19 days, Darrel is unexpectedly completing his Introduction to Preaching course at Regent College in Vancouver. For many years he pastored the famous Union Church in Manila during the People Power Revolution.

It was almost midnight when I approached with foreboding, the large and white-painted complex. I recall looking up at the moon as I climbed stone steps toward the front entrance, apprehensive, – yes, fearful — of what this night might entail.

It was Sunday, Sept. 9, 1990, and I had been praying that I would be able to handle the responsibility facing me. Only God knew what lay ahead.

As the moonlight bathed the area in an eerie, dull glow I remember thinking how quiet the night was, despite hundreds of people nearby.

It was as if everyone were holding their breaths in anticipation. But, in anticipation of what?
Quickly stepping through the front entrance, I found myself blinking at the sudden bright lights. Moving fast, yet quietly, I followed down various corridors, up flights of stairs, and through several doorways before silently entering a small room.

A large wall clock showed it was twenty-two minutes after midnight when I saw Charles. He looked smaller than I remembered from our first meeting and talk a month earlier.

This time he was lying flat on his back on a gurney, a white sheet covering him from his feet to his chest. I could see intravenous tubes had been inserted into both of his arms.

A doctor was checking him. A minister, holding an opened Bible, was nearby. Charles appeared somewhat frightened, his eyes wet as he glanced my way and then looked back at the ceiling.
How odd, I thought, to sit here and do nothing in this desperate situation. But, there was nothing I could do, only watch and listen.

But, why can’t God do something! I know he can, so why won’t God act and do something! What is the meaning of this?

Jesus “are you the one … or are we to wait for another?”

“Lord act – act now, please,” I prayed silently, “before it’s too late!”

But, I was a blind witness. For you see, I came to realize as my blind spiritual eyes were opened – that God had already acted.

God had acted over 2,000 years ago first in a manager in Bethlehem and later on a hill called Calvary. God had acted through the birth, life, death and – yes — resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus, the Christ.

God had already acted in Charles’ life, had rescued him and was setting him free. Charles had earlier repented of his sins.

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful … even though I was formerly a blasphemer, persecutor and a violent aggressor,” chaplain Jack Hawkins read out loud from St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy (1:12-18), reporting that Charles had asked that at this hour these verses be read, “and yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”

“Just tell everybody I love them, and I have a peace and quiet heart,” said Charles, who had turned his head, smiled, and nodded at me and 11 other news media witnesses seated in a viewing room 10 feet away from the execution chamber at the state penitentiary in McAlester.

His last words were: “Praise God! Praise God!”

Convicted murderer Charles Troy Coleman, age 43, was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. from lethal drug injections designed to cause unconsciousness, paralyzes of the muscles used for breathing, and stop the heart.

Black straps had restrained Coleman’s tattooed arms, and his opened hands were held secure with white tape, both palms upward.

As the poison cocktail began to flow into his veins, he took a deep breath, followed by a light cough or gasp. His eyes closed and his lips slightly parted. His face turned blue. His wife wept.

The execution ritual had taken about 13 minutes.

Coleman had been convicted of the 1979 shotgun slaying of John Seward, 68, of rural Muskogee County, who along with his wife were murdered after apparently interrupting a burglary at a relative’s home.

Police stopped Coleman later that day for speeding and officers found in his pickup the victim’s billfolds and frozen meat stolen from the home.

While awaiting trial, Coleman escaped the Muskogee County jail and fled to Luther, where he cut the throat of a police officer and left him handcuffed to his patrol car. The officer survived.
Authorities said Coleman then stole a car from a man he shot to death in a Tulsa park. He was later recaptured after he handcuffed and abandoned an Arizona deputy in the desert.

Coleman had been on death row 11 years pending state and federal appeals.

He had found Jesus Christ as his savior while in prison.

“Charles is in a better place,” his wife said. “He’s with God and at peace. I don’t have to worry about him suffering anymore.”

I know some people pooh-pooh prison and deathbed conversions, but I submit to you that many of those in prison, those in hospitals, in war facing overwhelming odds and the reality of death – finally cry out to God.

It’s at such times — when there is no hope — that a loving God is there for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. God was there for Charles and he was there, as well, for Charles’ victims in their moments of despair.

And, God is here for us today.

St. Paul said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy: 1:15)

If Paul, who earlier had ridiculed the teachings of Jesus, persecuted the church and supported St. Steven’s stoning, and if confessed murderer Charles Troy Coleman can be saved and forgiven through the love and mercy of Christ, then there is hope for all people.

Because of the cross, there is no repentant sinner beyond Jesus’ saving embrace. This is wonderfully good and joyful news.

Memories of the conversion, execution, and yes — resurrection to a new life in Christ — of Charles Troy Coleman came flooding back to me as I pondered today’s scriptures for Palm Sunday, start of Holy Week.

Holy Week when we observe and commemorate God acting to save humanity through another execution — this one of his own precious and innocent son, Jesus our Savior.

Holy Week when Jesus humbly and lovingly washes his disciple’s feet — even Judas’ — and establishes the sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.

Holy Week when Jesus is betrayed by Judas and abandoned by his friends before being arrested, humiliated, beaten, tortured and ultimately crucified on a horrific Good Friday.

Holy Week, when Jesus’ battered, bruised, pierced and lifeless body lies in the sealed, silent tomb on Saturday.

Holy Week when Jesus’ glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday changed you, me and all the world for eternity!

Jesus revealed the depth of God’s love for us during the first Holy Week. Now, may we show the depth of our love for God by following Jesus through his passion this Holy Week.

About the Author

For years, Robby Trammell was the leading investigative reporter for The Daily Oklahoman newspaper. For nearly a decade he was managing editor of the statewide newspaper until 2019 when he retired to a pastor in his denomination. Already a deacon, the sermon above was preached twice on Palm Sunday 2019

Our Lord God loves to take impossible situations and show that all things are possible with Him. The ancient Israelites watched as He delivered them from Egypt while crushing their enemies under the sea. The Hebrews had no weapons or army, but they trusted in the call of the Lord to come out of Egypt and followed Moses by faith.

Even today, He is more than able to help us in our time of need. But the bigger picture is that He is more than able to conquer the power of death and sin in our lives. We too are enslaved to an evil master called sin. And when we hear His calling, we can trust the call of the Lord to come out of sin and follow Jesus by faith.

Christ went before us to the cross. He bore the weight of our sin and punishment from God the Father. He absorbed the penalty and conquered it as He rose from the grave! For the Christian, our old master called sin has been crushed just like Egypt’s army by the waves of the Red Sea. And for the follower of Christ, he leads us on dry land through the pressures and challenges of life.

If you trust in Christ Jesus by faith, He will bring you to the other side—safe and sound! Jesus is a Better Moses because only He can bring you straight to the Promised Land. (Hebrews 3)

So, even though this passage of Scripture was written long before the Easter events, when we sing with Moses the following song, we see how it really is an ancient Easter song.

Exodus 15:1-18

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
    the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
    he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
    are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters have covered them;
    they sank to the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, Lord,
    was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
    shattered the enemy.

“In the greatness of your majesty
    you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
    it consumed them like stubble.
By the blast of your nostrils
    the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
    the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy boasted,
    ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
    I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
    and my hand will destroy them.’
But you blew with your breath,
    and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
    in the mighty waters.
Who among the gods
    is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
    majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
    working wonders?

“You stretch out your right hand,
    and the earth swallows your enemies.
In your unfailing love you will lead
    the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
    to your holy dwelling.
The nations will hear and tremble;
    anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
    the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people of Canaan will melt away;
    terror and dread will fall on them.
By the power of your arm
    they will be as still as a stone—
until your people pass by, Lord,
    until the people you bought pass by.
You will bring them in and plant them
    on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,
    the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

“The Lord reigns
    for ever and ever.”

About the Author

Troy Lamberth is the executive producer of HAVEN Today. On the side, he teaches film at Providence Christian College, produces documentaries, and often teaches at his church. He enjoys discovering how Jesus is involved in all aspects of our lives—from faith to film to family—and how our relationship with him shapes the way we live. He and his wife Melissa have three young children.