Blogging Towards Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011
“Who is this man?” and “Who do you say that he is?” are the foundational questions that the story of Palm Sunday ask us. We easily get distracted in our modern, scientific-based, empirically inspired culture. We want to verify Jesus’ divinity, to prove that he rose from the dead, to demonstrate physically his resurrected existence among us in 2011? Those questions are all valid. Yet today’s texts seem focused more upon telling us why Jesus is a different king than what the people had expected.
As I reflect on the text two songs come to mind "We Are the Champions" by Queen and "I Need a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler. I wonder if similar ideas crossed through the mind of his followers that day of his entry into the capital city. So many people there were hungry, waiting, in need of a hero. Yet the one they got that day quickly didn't seem to be the One in the subsequent days. What happened to change their minds? Where they just flighty in their expectations? Did they think that Jesus was one of the losers that they had no time for? Or were they waiting for the wrong hero, misunderstanding what victory means?
PSALM 118 is a song of praise and thanksgiving for what God has done and is doing. Read the whole psalm if you have the time and interest.
· As you read or hear this psalm poem what words, images and phrases grab you? Are they familiar? How so? For what is the poet giving thanks? How are these poetic words eternal, applicable to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as told in Matthew 21?’; how are they applicable to your life today?; our life as a faith community?
PHILLIPANS 2:1-11 is a section taken – possibly out of context – from a pastoral letter written by the Apostle Paul, probably about 30 years after the life of Jesus, to encourage and advise and growing church community in the Greek town of Phillipi.
· Paul is addressing issues of division within a community of Jesus followers, destructive relational behavior and a yearning for guidance. Look to Jesus – to his example – is Paul’s word of help. Verses 6-11 were probably the refrain of a known hymn of the 1st century. How do they lift up Jesus as exemplary? How is he different than other people of influence, power and prestige? How did his life example have authority in the 1st century of the common era? How does it have authority for us today in 2011?
MATTHEW 21:1-11 tells us the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, which was crowded like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, filled with people, expectations, hopes and dreams. Matthew quotes Isaiah 62:11, Zechariah 9:9 and Psalm 118 to shape his story-telling. What did the crowds expect the One to come in the name of the Lord would be like? How was Jesus different than their expectations? How is he different than what you expect? How does who Jesus is challenge or feed your faith?