Palms and Passion

Life Notes—March 29, 2012

“Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.  Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”  Mark 11:8-9

“All of them condemned him as deserving death.  Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ The guards also took him over and beat him.’”  Mark 14:64b-65 

The final week of the earthly life of Jesus was a whirlwind of contrasts.  It began with his triumphal entry intoJerusalem, hailed as Messiah, King of the Jews, and ends with his crucifixion as a blasphemous, insubordinate liar.  We recognize the entry intoJerusalemon Palm Sunday with parades and the waving of palm branches.  We recognize the Passion, or the suffering of Christ in other ways. On Holy Thursday we remember his arrest by theTempleleaders.  Black Friday recognizes the handing over of Jesus to the Roman authorities for an excruciating crucifixion. His death and burial occur late that afternoon.  The week begins on a high note, but quickly turns very, very low.  What happened to change the fate of Jesus so quickly and completely? 

I was twelve when I pulled my dad’s old guitar out of basement storage, found a few dusty song books with chord charts and began the tedious process of learning to play.  It was exasperating because there was so much I didn’t understand.  I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.  I knew what I expected and hoped to hear, but the reality manifesting in the sound from the guitar did not match my expectations. 

That life experience was maddening because I didn’t understand the realities of learning to play guitar.  That is similar to what happened to Jesus’ followers in his final week—their expectations did not match reality.  They mistakenly believed that Jesus had come to set them free from Roman oppression.  They expected a ruler, like the Roman governors, but a ruler who would be one of them.  They did not understand the reality—and Jesus knew they didn’t get it.  Once they discovered his Kingdom was not of this earth, and his authority was of a different source and power from that of the Romans, he knew his followers would turn on him and he would die the miserable death of a murderous criminal.  He also knew he had to go through it—for our sake, as well as to complete his mission on earth.  And so, this Sunday we celebrate the Palms and the Passion—the bookends of Jesus’ last week on earth, and two vital stops in our journey to Easter. 

This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday, the Sunday before Easter.  Mitch will preach downtown where Life worship begins at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Tom preaches at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  Communion will be served at all services. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Matching expectation with reality requires knowledge.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator


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