The Choice is Yours: From Parade to Passion with Jesus

Sixth Sunday in Lent – Palm & Passion Sunday

Blessed Hunger, Holy Feast…..God’s steadfast love endures forever

  • Psalm 31:9-16 “My times are in your hand…save me in your steadfast love”
  • Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus humbled and obedient….even to death on a cross
  • Luke 19:28-40 Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem
  • Luke 22:14-54a Jesus enters into his Passion

Gospel of Jesus Christ…cont’d…Luke 22:39-54a

This Sunday draws Jesus into an inescapable choice and confrontation. Indeed we who desire to follow Jesus are inescapably thrust into that same choice and confrontation. Of all the Sundays of the year it is this Palm and Passion Sunday that poses the choice and confrontation for us. It is seen in Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and very soon his arrest and trial and crucifixion.

This choice and confrontation already appears in what we know as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A grand parade and a royal welcome – but on a donkey not a war horse.

A recent book poses the choice and confrontation more sharply. The book, The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus’ Final Week in Jerusalem , reminds us that there were processions during Passover.

One was a peasant procession, the other an imperial procession. Jesus’ procession proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate’s proclaimed the power of the empire. Pilate’s military procession was a demonstration of both Roman imperial power and Roman imperial theology. Jesus’ procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God. Pilate’s procession was the procession of the domination system of the early first century. Jesus’ procession deliberately countered the domination system of the Roman Empire. The two processions embody the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.

(Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan, pp. 2-4; quoted by Tracy Hughes, CPT email, 3/27/07.)

Holding that choice and confrontation in our heart and mind and the Gospel we have already heard this morning, hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the story continues to unfold in Jerusalem.

…..Read Luke 22:39-54a…..

This is the Gospel of Jesus’ Passion.

Our familiarity with the story of Jesus’ parade and passion may keep us from truly hearing it anew. To hear it anew is to be drawn into Jesus’ parade and passion, his life and death.

The Gospel goes on to tell us how Jesus is put on trial before the council of religious leaders and before Pilate and led a way to the cross of Calvary to be crucified.

No other Sunday confronts us with the choice more clearly than this 6 th Sunday in Lent which encompasses Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and Passion in Jerusalem.

We long for the triumph without the tragedy, for the parade without the passion.

The famous quote of C. S. Lewis is that ‘The problem is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but rather that it’s been found difficult and not tried.’ This Sunday shows just how difficult Christianity is and how rarely it is tried.

It is in the trauma and drama of Jesus’ Passion that we cling to the eternal word that God’s steadfast love endures forever. Being the gift of God’s steadfast love, Jesus loves us so completely that he gave up his life for us.

The reality of this choice overwhelmed me yesterday afternoon as many of us saw the play My Name is Rachel Corrie at the Seattle Rep Theater. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. This Hoy Week would be a very good time to do so. While Rachel Corrie wasn’t explicitly giving up her life to follow Jesus to Jerusalem, she certainly went to that “Holy Land” and gave her life in nonviolent love for people who are being “crucified on the cross” of violence and oppression in our time.

During this Holy Week, prayerfully ponder the eternal fullness of God’s love in Christ who loves us and died for us. Let the deep tension and depth of this Holy Week seep into your bones and fill your heart.

Come this Holy Week and participate in the Good Friday Service at noon at the Federal Building in downtown Seattle to hear Jesus’ Passion and stories of those who are being crucified today. Come here at 7:00 on Good Friday evening as we sing and pray and hear Jesus’ Passion on the cross at Calvary.

We cannot celebrate Easter or make any sense of Jesus’ resurrection without the cross. There is no other way to see the Risen Christ of Easter than through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Let us prayerfully listen to Jesus’ Passion with his mother Mary as Andrew sings it in this plainsong as we enter this Holy Week.