Once more we find ourselves on this rollercoaster journey: from crowds shouting Hosanna as Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph and acclaim, to the new covenant of Maundy Thursday, the terror and despair of Good Friday, the grieving of Holy Saturday, to the unbounded joy of Resurrection on Easter Day.
This year I’d like to invite you to enter into this journey in an imaginative and deeper way. Which character do you most identify with in these stories? If you had been there, what would you have seen and felt? I wonder, how must Jesus himself have felt on Palm Sunday as he was acclaimed by the crowds, knowing as he did that his enemies were plotting and that he had only days to live. There was so much he still had to do, and such a short time to do it all. And yet he also had all the time in the world, because of the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit which he sent to dwell within us at Pentecost.
In past years, I always wondered how the crowd could turn from shouts of welcome to baying for his blood within such a short time. It doesn’t say much for the goodness of human nature.
Over the past year I’ve read many books, and had the privilege of being introduced to a new way of seeing this. The crowd who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem were not at all the same ones who demanded his execution on Good Friday. The ordinary people who shouted for joy at the arrival of their long-awaited Messiah, who were filled with hope and love, were still abed and asleep in the early hours of Good Friday. The ones filled with hatred and evil at the challenge that Jesus brought had plotted this, and arrested Jesus whilst the ordinary people who loved him were not there to fight back. By the time that the ordinary citizens awoke, it was all over. They were only in time to watch him, beaten and bloody, carry his cross to the place of crucifixion.
How often have we missed the vital moment? That crucial point when we had the one chance to say something, change things, ensure justice. To stop evil in its tracks. This year, as I make this annual pilgrimage through Passiontide and Holy Week once more, I wonder what parallels will become clear to me, where I need to be alert and awake, to speak up for the right thing.
I wonder, what will Holy Week bring you this year?
I pray that, whatever else it may bring, it also brings you closer to the heart of God, knowing the love of Jesus that was so great he died for you, and rose again that you may live life in all its fullness, both here and hereafter.
Image by Norman Adams – Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
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