Friday, 12 April 2019

Palm Sunday:Christine Hutt

Luke 19 28-40

The story of the triumphal entry of Jesus to Jerusalem is so familiar to us as it is celebrated each year on Palm Sunday, but we need to stop and think what it was like for those who first experienced it. 
Here Jesus decides to enter the holy city, not quietly, but openly in a planned act of defiance, by riding on a young donkey, showing that he was a ‘king’ coming in peace;  he was acting out his message in a similar way to some of the Old Testament prophets. Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in their book ‘The Last Week’ talk of two processions, the peasant procession led by Jesus entering Jerusalem by the East Gate and Pontius Pilate with his entourage entering by the West Gate, anxious to remind people who held true power and authority.  I imagine the people resented the presence of Pontius Pilate, reminding them of the domination of the Romans, in an occupied country. But did the people really welcome Jesus?  As Malcolm Guite says in his poem ‘a Sonnet for Palm Sunday’

The Saviour comes. But will I welcome Him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune.

Jesus was not a king who lived in a palace, his kingdom was ‘not of this world’.  Besides two processions, there were two bowls of water in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life:  Pilate washed his hands to demonstrate he had no part in the decision to crucify Jesus, but Jesus took a bowl of water and knelt to wash his disciples’ feet.  We follow a king who came to serve, not to be served, a king who suffered and died, but who rose again.  He calls us to follow his way of peace, to bring justice to the oppressed, to be salt and light in the world, to demonstrate his love by the way we serve other people, especially those on the margins of our society.  Let us ask ourselves ‘The Saviour comes. But will I welcome Him?

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