to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6
The Church rehearses the salvation story before the world every year. It is not simply that we do this for the benefit of those already of the Kingdom of God that we may be reminded but that we do this on behalf of the whole world. That Jesus died for us is a great and wonderful thing and one we too often forget or fail to appreciate for its gift. But the events of Holy Week stand as a confession before the world that Christ is the Light for the nations and we proclaim this Gospel so that His salvation may, indeed, reach to the end of the earth.
The numbers are not many on the Compline services of Holy Week in which the Passion story is read but we are not simply doing this for the benefit of those who are there. This is no re-enactment or reprisal of the once for all event of Calvary. No, it is the remembrance of every detail and moment of that mighty act of our deliverance when Christ suffered for us and in our place to rescue and redeem us from sin and its death. We remember it so that we may be renewed in the grace of such wondrous love but we also recall it and proclaim it on behalf of those not yet of the Kingdom.
It is too little a thing that God would rescue only His people. Christ and His perfect obedience unto death stands as beacon and lighthouse of God's love to the world. He has wanted to gather us in as a hen gathers her checks. He has paid the price of sin for us and for the whole world. He has redeemed us with the blood strong enough to redeem the whole world. There is no way by which we take more seriously what He has accomplished than to spread the good news of His deliverance to those who have not heard, to those who have heard and have not yet believed, and to those who heard, believed, and fallen away. This too is part of the drama of Holy Week and the liturgies in which the center of it all is the Passion of Christ.