Passage for the Day: Luke 19:28-44
In the Anglican lectionary there is always a choice on Palm Sunday, between the Liturgy of the Palms, and the Liturgy of the Passion. There are good reasons for this. Whether or not we follow the lectionary, we do not tend to devote the same amount of time and space in our preaching and teaching as the gospel writers devote to the last week of Jesus’ life, and there are whole chapters we often miss out altogether.
But in Luke’s gospel at least the rejoicing of Palm Sunday and the sorrow of the Passion are starkly brought together in a way that we often do not appreciate. I spent some time looking at images of Jesus riding into Jerusalem that day, but I could not find any of Jesus weeping as He down into Jerusalem. We tend to airbrush those tears out of the story, but they are a most important detail. Even as the crowds rejoice because they see the long-awaited king coming to His city, Jesus is weeping at the inevitable destruction of that city.
However much this crowd is cheering, most of Jerusalem that day is indifferent; a few like the Pharisees are positively hostile, and those who do turn out to welcome Him will soon abandon Him while others are demanding His death. But how would Jesus fare if He came to visit our city today? Would the range of reactions be any different?
After all, most people today still remain indifferent to the Easter message. Some are positively hostile. And what about those of us who profess to welcome Him into our lives? When the going gets tough, do we really stand by Jesus? And when we see the indifference and hostility of others, are we prepared to weep like Jesus? For all our talk of mission, we will never truly have a desire to share the good news unless we are prepared to have our heart broken, just as Jesus’ heart was broken as He suffered and died for us on a cross.