Palm and Passion: Holy Week Accelerated

Reading: John 12:12-19; Matthew 26-27

palm and passion“Hosanna in the highest” we cry. “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout aloud daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king comes.” It’s all kinda fun. We wave our palm branches, the symbol of conquest and victory, and celebrate this day. It’s a day bursting with energy. So we shout, Hosanna. It’s a word means “save us now.” The people were looking for deliverance. They wanted to be saved. And the man who had just given sight to a blind man with mud in his eye and then raised Lazarus from four days in the tomb and said He is I AM, the Lord, is riding in on a donkey just as the prophets had foretold.

God’s people were ready. Since the Exodus they had this promised land of Israel. They had gone through captivity of the Babylonians and Assyrians. They have been under Roman rule nearly 90 years. They wanted salvation. Just not necessarily from sin and death. They wanted their kingdom, their nation.

The air was full of anticipation and buzzing. Everyone was wondering the question that many still ask today, what would Jesus do? The religious who depended on their works were watching carefully, so was the Roman government, and obviously so were the people. No one saw it coming.

The Passion. Not a word that so full of emotion like we tend to use. The word passion comes from the Latin word that means to suffer. The suffering. Suffering because the crowds shifted. Suffering for Jesus since things did not quite go as the people thought they should. We are used to all kinds of mood swings in our lives. Crowds change thoughts and momentum shifts in brief moments. The one’s holding palm branches, a preemptive proclamation of victory, would see through things went their way, even if it meant turning against their newly hailed king.

We’re like the people in Jerusalem. We’d rather have the celebration. We celebrate and treat Jesus as the King who comes to satisfy our needs and secretly (or not-so-secretly) desire that He would just do things the way we think they ought to be done. We’d like to tell Jesus just how we think He ought to show His mercy and give the gifts of heaven. And when things don’t go as we wish, when faith in Jesus does not lead to the life that we expect or desire, we abandon Him and we may even shout out to have Him crucified.

It’s an accelerated week. Holy Week. Leaving the home of Mary, Martha, and newly raised Lazarus, Jesus rides into town. He rides the road to die. He rides for the one who shout His praises and just as quickly turn against Him. He rides to fulfill the Passover, the Lamb who must die to take away the sin of the world. He rides to shed His body and blood for you. He rides so people can spit on Him and mock Him, He rides toward His Passion, His suffering. He rides to fulfill the request of hosanna, He rides to save you from sin and death. He rides on to die. He rides to give God to you, to tear the curtain so their is no separation from you and the Father. Just as the Heavens were opened at His baptism, so now the Holy of Holies is opened for you.

What we’ve proclaimed and awaited since Christmas now is fulfilled. God became man. Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King. Hark! The herald angels sing, peace and earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled!”

This is the passion of our Lord to save the world, to save you. This is the passion of our Lord who “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna to the King! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. Amen.

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