Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020

Matthew 21:1-11

I had a professor who once pointed out the humor in Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem based on the authors misreading of Zechariah 9:9. Matthew adds the word “and” in Greek where the Hebrew in Zechariah did not have a symbol or word indicating as such. My professor pointed out that Jesus is portrayed here as a circus act coming in “mounted on a donkey, and on the foal of a donkey” (emphasis mine).

In this telling, the “Triumphal Entry” doesn’t seem very triumphant, does it. I think, however, this more than makes the point of the story. Jesus has not come as a ruler or king in that way. He comes in with the poor on a beast of burden. He is found among the people, and he will not be identified easily with the mighty warrior king we continue to insist that he is.

As we embark here upon Holy Week, my invitation to us is to seek out ways to follow Jesus … not into the palace … into the streets. How will we experience holiness this week? Where will I look for Jesus?

I think perhaps this is the time to be among the people who suffer. It is a time to be with people for whom grief and death are all too real. It is a time to stand with the powerless and the homeless. It is a time to commit ourselves to this God who comes into the midst of our suffering humanity and offers a future filled with hope.

But first the cross. We can’t get there without the cross. It is the cross of suffering. It is the cross of hopelessness. It is the cross of death. It is the cross that calls us to stand and watch as our God enjoins our suffering and, even there, speaks a word of forgiveness to those who inflict the suffering. It is a cross that transforms us and readies us for life.

Christ, we come to you as the one who teaches us triumph from the perspective of suffering and death. Teach us of your mercy and grace. Teach us how to follow you into the streets. Amen.

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