3-14-16 - Going to Jerusalem

The first question that arises in response to this Sunday’s gospel reading (we will explore the Palm Sunday part in Water Daily this week) is, “After he said what?” The reading begins, “After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” Any time we see an “after” or a “therefore” we want to know what happened before.

Just prior to his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus told a rather harsh parable about a man who went on a trip to gain “kingly power.” His own citizens sent him word that they did not want him as their king. On his return he sought an accounting from servants to whom he had entrusted with one pound each. The first had traded successfully, yielding a ten-fold increase; the second had made five pounds. The third had buried his so as not to lose anything, provoking his master to take away his one pound and give it to one who’d made ten. The ending is vengeful, even violent:

‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’

Is Jesus the man in the parable, who will return with kingly power and deal with those who rejected him? These are hard words from the Prince of Peace – especially one who will in the coming days resist all attempts to manifest a worldly show of kingship. “After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.”

Jesus knows what is going to happen to him in Jerusalem; he’s told his followers several times: "The Son of Man must go to Jerusalem, be arrested, tried and killed. And on the third day he will rise again.” He knows that those who want him to be king will be militant this week – and those who are disappointed that he is not the kind of king they want will turn violent. Is he subverting the whole notion of “kingship” from the very beginning of the week, riding into the city not on a steed but on a colt, lauded not by leaders and soldiers but by children and multitudes of the ordinary?

That first question, “After what?” leads us to more questions than answers – and maybe that’s not bad as we approach our own journey to Jerusalem during Holy Week. We’re not there yet. We’re still outside the city, making preparations. Maybe for us that means reflecting on any disciplines or activities we’ve taken up during Lent, asking how they have brought us closer to Jesus. Maybe it means looking at our calendars for next week and making sure we’ve set aside time to participate in Holy Week and Easter activities.

I pray that exploring this story, the story before The Story, will bring us closer to Jesus this week, close enough to pet the donkey, feel the cloaks and palm branches, hear the “Hosannas!” of the crowd. We don't necessarily want to go to Jerusalem, knowing what awaits us there. Yet it is there that we are born anew. So let's go.

No comments:

Post a Comment