The Undoing of Death
Meditations on Holy Week Inspired by Fleming Rutledge’s Sermons
Palm Sunday is a difficult day to figure out. The crowds in the Bible are euphoric, waving palm branches and running round chanting “Hosanna, Hosanna.” It is a party that breaks out on the road to Jerusalem. But I find it hard to celebrate. I know what comes on Friday … torture and murder.
Fleming Rutledge says Palm Sunday is the “Trojan Horse of the Christian Year.” We get drawn in by the festivity but it isn’t long before we are attacked by the reality of the Passion of Christ. Palm Sunday isn’t a day that can exist by itself. It just introduces the Holy Week. Today is the day we are invited to follow Christ in his last steps up to the cross on Friday. We are invited to accompany him with shouts of “Hosanna!” today and curses of “Crucify Him!” on Friday.
As Jesus rode near to the city, surrounded by a delirious mob, he wept and the gospel of Luke tells us he said,
“Would that even today you knew the things that make for you peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will … hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you and they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
This is the reason for Palm Sunday. It is for us [the church] to know what makes for our peace, to know the time of [our] visitation. And mysteriously within the agony of Calvary and the crucified Jesus is where the Church finds its peace.
This is only the second time the gospels tell us Jesus wept. And he does not weep for himself. He weeps for the city. He weeps for those who will soon shout “crucify him!” In other words, he weeps for us. Who has ever wept for you? Have you ever wept for anyone? All those tears are rolled up into the tears of Jesus. And he weeps for us.
You will not want to miss “the time of your visitation” this week. Peace you will find not in denial or false hope but in the Cross. This week, collect your jar of bottled up tears. Grab that load you bear. Carry them to Calvary on Friday and give them up to the one who wept for you… who bears your sins for you. He knows. He understands.