Lenten blog | April 4, 2020
He continued onward anyway
Throughout the year, the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for Saturday, April 4th: Psalm 31:9-16; Lamentations 3:55-66; and Mark 10:32-34. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
The Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story that Jesus forewarned His followers on three separate occasions that He was going to Jerusalem and that there He would be arrested, killed and raised. They simply could not process this information. Their own expectations of Jesus as the Messiah conflicted with Jesus’ prophecy of His death. Their expectations prevented them from hearing Jesus.
It was not only Jesus’ closest followers, “the twelve” in today’s reading, who had difficulties. The other pilgrims heading to Jerusalem for the Passover festival were also “afraid.” They may not have been as informed as the Twelve, but they sensed something was amiss. Maybe these others who followed behind were Galileans, neighbours of Jesus, witnesses to His gospel and even His miracles. Something did not feel right.
This is why Palm Sunday, which we will observe tomorrow, was so cathartic for them. They yelled “Hosanna,” (“Save we pray”) at the top of their lungs. They welcomed Jesus into David’s capital city, the place of the Temple, the place where God resided on earth. They expected Jesus to usher in the reign of God by the power of God’s army. They praised and honoured Jesus because they saw Him on Palm Sunday as they wanted to see Him, not as Jesus had revealed those three distinct and clear times.
This unwillingness to accept Jesus on His terms rather than those of our choosing is the source of moral and spiritual (and even institutional) confusion. We want Jesus to support what we support and to condemn what we condemn. What should happen is that we must look to the example and teaching of Jesus as honestly as we possibly can, and then try our best to live accordingly.
Also, I am amazed at Jesus’ resiliency. He knows what lies in wait for Him at the end of His journey, but He also sees the confusion all around Him. It is one thing to die for a cause and trust that others will continue to carry it forward, but Jesus marches onward with no such assurance. He has tried to impress upon His followers that His is a radically new revelation, but now as death nears, He must realize that maybe no one gets it, that no one gets Him. He must fear that His ministry may end with Him. This fear means that His death may end up being meaningless.
Jesus, however, continues onward. He is true to Himself. He is faithful to His gospel. He is committed to the will of His Father. He is devoted to us – even if we don’t get it. Paul writes in Romans: “What if some are unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means!” (3:3-4a) This is our Saviour. And now as we approach Holy Week, we can right the wrongs of His history. We can listen and we can follow, and we can be the people that Jesus always hoped we would be. Let us walk with Him now. Let us continue to carry onward with the faith. Jesus deserves no less.
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