|Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on March 25, 2013 at 2:25 PM|
So, I’m betting you’ve been to Palm Sunday worship before. In fact, some of you may have already been to one this morning. And you know what it usually looks like. If there’s kids in the congregation, they’re helping to bring the palms in and hand them out. And if not, there’s still a time in the service when everyone waves those branches to remember the shouting and the joy of the crowds as they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. Welcomed him as king- the one who would change the country, change their lives and save them. It’s a hopeful moment before a sad week to come.
And the people shouting “Hosanna, save us!” are like the cheers at a ballgame. They are shouts of wishful hope, hoping that this one to come will be the one to change everything. Hoping, but not yet trusting. But everyone around them is hoping and shouting and it feels right to believe. At that moment on the road as people are shouting, everything seems possible for Jesus.
But this evening we hear someone else’s view of the same scene. Because when you’re looking at the same thing, it all depends on what you’re focusing on. And when Luke tells the story, it’s a bit more calm, a bit more mournful. A telling that comes from the heart, not the eyes. Luke tells it as someone who can feel what is going on underneath the surface.
It’s still a joyful story, it’s just different. Jesus comes in on a donkey, sitting on the coats of his disciples. As a king coming to meet those who he is called to rule over. He comes just like the Scriptures always said the king would come.- humbly, but with honor. And the people around him get it- they knew their Bible a little better than most of us do and they knew what this little parade was supposed to symbolize. A man on a donkey with his supporters walking with him- this was the king that was coming to save them. And they took their coats off to throw before Jesus, hoping that if this really was the Messiah, they should honor him and get on his good side.
And the crowds aren’t the only ones who get it. Although the disciples can be pretty dim-witted at other times, this is a time that they are doing what they are supposed to. They announce Jesus as the one who is mighty, who has let God work through him, who has all power. “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” they shout. He is the one who has healed and fed and brought life and spoke of hope. The disciples testify to what they know- that Jesus is God walking with them, the one who is the king over every power and the one who brings peace in a world that just keeps warring around him. They get it and they have every reason to be joyful.
And yet, beyond their joyful shouts, they know that even all this power, all this peace, is not enough to keep Jesus safe. Or them safe. So their voices start to shake as they cry out, “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Peace in heaven, but not always here on earth, they know. They have known a bit of the uncertainty and the suffering of following Jesus. They have seen the anger that Jesus’ words cause. They have seen their friends and family turn away from them because of the one they follow.
It’s as if the disciples are saying, “I know that there is no place we would rather be, no one we would rather follow, no other one that we can possibly call king, but those words make me choke. Because it’s hard to follow you. And going another way seems so much easier.
And somewhere in the crowds, the religious leaders are getting annoyed. And nervous. And frustrated at all those who have put their hope in this Jesus. And they tell Jesus to quiet these ridiculous people. To stop them from proclaiming him king, stop this ridiculous procession and stop their shouting. But Jesus knows that the truth he brings, the peace he offers, the love he embodies can never be fully hidden. It cannot be sealed away.
Even if his disciples were shut up, even if anyone who had ever met him were silenced, his love and peace would break into the world. If they had to, the stones would announce the goodness of Jesus. The creation would erupt with joy and proclaim what Jesus’ kingdom is all about- a place where all that is broken is set right and where Jesus loves the world back into beauty. Where fear is defeated in the face of his earth-shattering love
You can try to shut them up, Jesus says- you can try to shut me up- but my kingdom is more powerful than that and it’s going to seep in through the sidewalk cracks and through all the broken spaces in life. Seal it away in a tomb, but my life cannot be stopped. You can try to quiet my people, but then the stones would cry out with my love.
But this week, the stones don’t have to cry out. Because the church will be shouting the truth of Jesus’ kingdom everywhere. Telling the story again to our world.
We’ll all be entering into an ancient story together so that it can seep into our bones. And we’ll be announcing it to all who will hear, to all the broken places in the world and all the places too indifferent to care. We will join Jesus at the supper and go to the garden with him where we can barely stay awake as he prays. On Friday, we’ll sit in the dark to hear again that Jesus has died and wonder how that makes any sense- God suffering in our place. On Saturday, some of us will hold vigil outside the tomb together as we to try to learn again what these things mean.
Not just for Jesus, but for us. Now. How they change our lives. How they change what is possible and change what we hope for in a world that is too painful and too violent and too confusing. We walk with Jesus again so we might have a chance of remembering how to walk in the rest of the world.
This week is how we relearn the deepest truths of our faith. That Jesus goes to the deepest and most fearful places for us- even to death- so that we will not go there alone. That Jesus destroys those places of terror and danger so that they will not have power over us. We learn again that Jesus looks at us with love when we have betrayed him, denied him and ignored him. And we watch Jesus love us more than his own life. And then we watch God do what cannot be done- bring life where it shouldn’t be.
We tell this story this week with the whole church so that we can learn again the truth that sets us free and that will set our world free. That through the ugliest and most painful parts of life, God’s hope and God’s live keeps seeping in. That not even death can stop God from breaking in. It is a story powerful enough to change us and all who share this earth with us. It is a truth powerful enough that even if we do not speak it, the stones would shout out.
Categories: The kingdom of God