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Breezin’ Through the Bible, #26 Passion Sunday

April 16, 2014

Passion Sunday

Palm Sunday, the day crowds in Jerusalem shouted “Hosanna!” and waved branches from palm trees, strewing his path with palms and expectation as Jesus rode on a donkey through the crowded road from the Mount of Olives to his destination, according to the prophets of old. He said, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey – riding on a donkey’s colt.'” The people shouted, “Hosanna!” (from the Greek, meaning save now.) Did they expect the Nazarene to save them from an oppressive government, from excessive taxes, from conscripted labor? In a week’s time they would be shouting, “Crucify him!” Jesus knew the irony, but he went on.

Palm Sunday is sometimes called Passion Sunday. A passion is a strong emotion, but Passion Sunday has many meanings. Jews were celebrating the Feast of the Passover from the time of Moses. The passion of Christ was to obey God and save his people, which he must carry out with his agonizing death. Such passion had never existed. Then, too, Jesus moves this day into the passive voice, in which he is acted upon by the people he came to save. They do to him what he has foreseen. 

“Let the children come unto me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus said, and he knew about heaven. Today children wave palm branches and sing in churches around the world, “Hosanna!” Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, loved the little child. Could adults retain some of their childlike innocence, their guilelessness, their tender hearts? This earth could be more like heaven. But Jesus understood temptation and forgave the sinner.

After a triumphant entry to the city, Jesus moved to the temple, busy with buyers and sellers preparing for the holiday. This was the day faithful Jews bought their sacrificial lambs, and it must have seemed more like a market than the house of God. Jesus upset their tables, freed the doves, and scattered the coins across the courtyard. Then he appealed to the people. They listened to his teaching and savored his wisdom, but the priests and money lenders were appalled. Jerusalem was shocked by what was happening. And then Jesus began to heal, to work publicly the miracles he had wanted to be kept secret. He showed them the purpose of the temple and used his transforming power. He demonstrated God’s power over evil, showing that no area is out of bounds for God, but he had come to save, and not to judge.

Religion can be misdirected, and Jesus was determined to set it right. He had to redirect religion from the temple to the hearts of men and women. How? The forces of evil were already in play.

-to be contd.-


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