MEDITATION FOR PALM SUNDAY
APRIL 5TH 2020
A disciple’s viewpoint
I almost don’t know how to bear it. It has been the worst week of my life so far and I’m not sure what will happen now. He did give us clues about what would happen but we didn’t want to understand. Everything seems so final now and we daren’t go out in case we are arrested.
It all seemed so different at the beginning of the week. We had stayed at Bethany for a while after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. It was such a strange experience for us and for Mary and Martha. There was a feeling of—I don’t know—perhaps faith, something we could not understand but it didn’t matter. We were all together and Jesus was our Messiah.
Then we were off again and heading straight for Jerusalem. We remembered what Jesus had said about dying and to be honest we wanted him to go the other way! It was hard to keep up with him especially when we tried to go slowly so that it would take longer to get there but I think Jesus had sussed us out and just kept going as if he was on a mission.
Jerusalem was crowded when we got there; everyone there to celebrate the Passover. Herod had ridden into the city and he had arrived as a warrior with all his circus beside him. He was only there because the Romans thought there might be trouble and they wanted to have a presence. People had cheered him and there was a feeling of freedom and holidaying.
Jesus told some of us to fetch him a donkey and her colt. It seemed to be all arranged and it happened just like he said it would. We were somewhat perplexed about why he wanted them but we soon found out! Like Herod he was going to enter Jerusalem but what a difference. He was riding a donkey. But then it happened as he entered by the Golden Gate.
You should have heard them. What a noise! What a sight! What a welcome! I’ve never seen anything like it. Herod must have thought he was popular but people only cheered him because they felt they had to. But Jesus was cheered and palm branches laid in front of him, people running after him, wanting to touch him, be near him, tearing off their cloaks and carpeting the road in front of him.
And the noise was amazing. ‘Hosanna’ they shouted; Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. And the crowds just kept growing and growing, their throats got sore and they were breathless with all the shouting and running. Jesus sat calmly on the donkey and seemed somehow accepting it all but sometimes there was a sadness about him as though he knew this wouldn’t last.
But we were so pleased that our Lord and Master had at last been recognised by everyone else; although there were some at the back of the cheering crowds who were not looking too pleased, some of the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers who seemed totally taken by surprise. But there was nothing they could do; Jesus, the Messiah had arrived and they could do nothing to stop him; the people had given their verdict and that was that!
Jesus went to the Temple, the rightful place for the Messiah and went inside. Gradually the crowds dispersed and Jesus was left alone (there was something quite sad about this). We wanted him to capitalise on what had happened but he seemed strangely reluctant and spent a long time in the Temple just looking round and being quiet, praying, I suppose. We wanted to carry on with the cheering and whip up the people again, gain their adulation and bask in his reflected glory but Jesus seemed to have lost the impetus.
We went back to Bethany. Jesus seemed to be settled there, although there was such a strange expression in his eyes, such melancholy, wretchedness and, I don’t know, grief. We really didn’t understand but Lazarus seemed to and they spent a lot of time together, often not saying anything but you could see the bond between them.
And now all that joy and cheering seems so far away and as if it never happened. Not only did we enter Jerusalem but we entered the most sombre of all times. This week has been so hard and confusing; the preparation that Jesus had already made for us to be together and share the Passover meal; the Passover meal that we celebrated with him and the strange words that he used with the bread and the wine; his anguish in the Garden when he prayed so hard; the betrayal by Judas with that most intimate kiss and the arrest. I was so afraid and wanted to fight but Jesus said no and I could see his eyes that he really meant it.
He is suffering so much now. The Romans won’t spare him at all because he has made their life difficult and his own people don’t want him either. And not only could I not keep awake when he asked us to, I didn’t even have the courage to say I knew him. Even after all I’d said about being ready to die for him. I have failed him so much; I deny him, I abandon him, I betray him. But I caught his eye as I passed and they were full of love for me, even me. He forgives me and loves me always and offers me everything. He never invited us to worship him but to follow him. He may not be a conventional king but he is my King and I will share in his glory and hope.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded of how you entered Jerusalem to shouts of joy and celebration. But we remember too how quickly that welcome evaporated, how soon the mood of the crowd changed.
Lord, we know all too well that we are not so different. Our commitment to you is so often short-lived, superficial, self-centred. Help us to welcome you into our lives with true gladness and to go on serving you, come what may.
Our world is in turmoil, people suffering and hurting. We know that you too have suffered and now suffer with us. May we remember that there is glory in your resurrection and look towards your light. Amen
It is said that a week is a long time in politics and recently it has been a long time for all of us. Life has changed rapidly and is now completely different. In Holy Week so much happened and yet the beginning of the next week brought such joy in the Resurrection. As we enter Holy Week let us remember that Christ suffered and he weeps with us now as throughout the world people are feeling lost and in darkness. Light will return to us and the light of Christ is always there in the gloom.
Keep well and safe and God bless