Who Will it Be? — A 1st Draft for Palm Sunday
In one fell swoop we have gone from the heights of praise to the depths of pain. We’ve cried hosanna and we’ve heard the crowds cry crucify him. And again, we enter into the final week of Lent, Holy Week, the most Holy of Weeks. And we have choice, you have a choice. Will you stand to the side as an observer of these events, or will you take the time to enter this drama, this Holy Week that will lead us from the depths of pain as we watch an innocent man crucified to the heights of the highest mountain rejoicing in the risen Lord. I invite you to enter the story of Holy Week, and I ask you now…who will you be and who do you say that Jesus is?
Will you choose to be like Pilate, who avoids what he knows to be the right decision, releasing Jesus, so that he doesn’t have to make a decision about who Jesus is. Will you choose to avoid the question all Christians must answer: “Who do you say that I am?”
Will you be like Herod, interested in seeing a good show that Jesus supposedly can put on. But when you find out Jesus isn’t what you thought he would be like, you toss him aside. Will you turn on him and treat him with mock and contempt? Will you join in the wider cry of our society that mock’s Christians and what we believe and what we stand on? And then when you are finished displaying your malcontent, will you throw him aside?
Will you be like Simon the Cyrene, who was conscripted to follow Jesus against his will? Will find yourself carrying the cross of christ as you follow his lead? Will you be the one who one day, finds themselves as a disciple of Jesus in a way that almost feels like it’s against your will? Will you wake up one day and profess what you have known deep down for sometime now; I am a follower of Jesus and my life is given in joyful service to this suffering servant.
Will you be like the chief priests , scribes, and people; who generate lies in order to avoid what acknowledging Jesus would do to your life? ? Are you working hard to find reasons to see that Jesus is not who he claims to be because deep down you know, that if this is really true, it would upend your life?
Will you be like the crowd who stands resolutely opposed to this man who claims tobe the savior of the world? An antagonist, an outright enemy of Jesus, unwaveringly opposed to who Jesus is and what he asks of you?
Will you be one of the crowd shouting Hossanna, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord? Maybe you are someone in the multitude of disciples who gets caught up in the frenzy of the crowd, and shout along with everyone; Hosanna. Like a seed planted on rocky soil, quick to hear and receive but then just as quick to walk away when things get too hard. Maybe like the seed planted in thorny soil that grows until the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches pulls you away from Christ.
Will you be like the Daughters of Jerusalem, who weep for Jesus and his suffering but like those before you, failing to see the significance of who Jesus is and unable to see that though you are mourning the death of this man, because it is sad, you are unable to see that it is because of you and the many who have come before you that Jesus had to die. Like the grandma in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’. Will you go on Believing a version of reality that is of your own making only to realize, too late, that this version is what results in your destruction?
Or will you be like the women of Galilee who stand at distance watching as the man who loved you, served you, walked with you, laughed with you, prayed with you, maybe healed you? Will you experience the anguish of watching a loved one die? Or anger towards a world that would kill a man so humble, kind, selfless, and loving. Or maybe even angry at Jesus because you know that this could have been avoided, he could have gone back to Galilee, he didn’t have to be hanging on that cross right now. Will you feel the sense of loss and confusion they must have felt, as the person they left everything for, entrusted themselves to and served alongside, hangs before you on a roman Cross.
Will you join the criminal in mocking Jesus as he hangs on the cross. If your so great Jesus, why don’t you save yourself? If Christianity is so great, why have so many people been killed by these Christ followers? If your so powerful Jesus, why is there so much suffering. Why are there still wars, destruction, death of innocents, refugees, racism, terrorism? Will you be so poisoned by the pain you have caused and have receieved that you can only see before you a man who claimed so much but seemed to come up empty on his promises.
Or are you the criminal, whose life literally ‘hangs’ in the balance. Are you watching your life crumbling around you, experiencing the crushing result of the choices you made that led you to this point of hopelessness. Will you cry out to Jesus and acknowledge your powerlessness over your own life, will you cry out in the midst of the chaos; “Jesus, remember me in your kingdom.”
Who will you be today, this week. Who do will you say Jesus is? I can write of these different people because I myself have been all of them. Sometimes I have been a number of them in the course of one day, one week, one month. I can as easily cry Hosanna Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, as I can cry crucify him. We are not static beings, we are always moving towards the Kingdom or walking away from it. Today you can probably find yourselves in the figures portrayed in this account. We read the passion of Christ today because all that we experience beginning today and ending next Sunday is one grand event. Today begins the passion of the Christ, and as we walk and enter into the story of Jesus’ last days on earth, we again have a chance to enter this grand drama and explore who in this moment am I? Who will you be, who will you say Jesus is?