Palm Sunday - Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Lent
Sunday March 24th, 2013
'But they kept shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"'
The Passion is like a nightmare: everything going completely wrong as we watch helplessly. Events move faster and faster yet with a ponderous inevitability. This travesty of justice is going to happen regardless of what anyone does and in spite of a clear declaration of innocence. The false accusations, leaders acting with political expediency, justifying their actions and then the crowd… the crowd is definitely the material for a nightmare: the harsh faces pressing in, bloated and red with anger. They don’t look human anymore; threatening words, shaking fists, vicious taunts. This is all wrong. We want to stop it or at least wake up.
Perhaps we have heard it often enough to hold it at arm’s length. After all it happened a long time ago. The vivid nightmarish quality fades with time, we move on. Or we focus on the resurrection and quickly pass by the cross. Yet, this is the worst kind of nightmare because there is no waking up to discover that it is only a dream.
In the midst of the nightmare Jesus speaks up but not in his own defense. Instead he responds in ways that only seem to acknowledge the inevitability of what is going to happen. His final words emphasize his innocence while refocusing our attention on the real story: ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’ echoes Psalm 31:5 and points towards God’s plan for salvation being worked out in this crazy nightmare, in the life, death (and resurrection) of Jesus. The Passion is more than a simple miscarriage of justice carried out by a few individuals a long time ago. It is our nightmare, we are personally involved, because it is the confrontation of the distorted reality of human rebellion and its destructive consequences with the truth of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Our Father, as we walk through Lent towards Easter give us grace not to soften the horror of this nightmare or distance ourselves from it. Help us to face it so that we might know your Truth, Jesus Christ, and in him begin to see ourselves for who we are. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Peter Robinson
Professor of Proclamation, Worship and Ministry at Wycliffe College, and an ordained Anglican priest in the Diocese of Toronto. Previous to teaching at Wycliffe College, Peter taught at Tyndale Seminary. His current research focuses on the relationship betwen theological anthropology, Trinitarian theology and ecclesiology.
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