It’s a celebration!
Jesus comes home to the people.
Jesus, the tender-hearted.
Jesus, the liberator.
It’s the moment everyone is waiting for.
This moment of reunion.
Lover and loved, liberator and liberated,
How will they greet each other?
The people are so happy!
“Praise God!” they shout.
They cover the road with their coats
as a sign of honor.
“Peace!” they shout.
Peace. The people want peace.
The people arise. The homecoming arrives
as Jesus arrives on the road to Jerusalem.
It’s a heartwarming union of
lover and beloved.
Then, the outline of Jerusalem appears on the horizon.
At this, Jesus weeps; Jesus sobs, even, for his beloved.
Jesus cries, “If you, even you, had only known on this day
what would bring you peace!”
If only you knew what would bring you peace!
Jesus cries out like a friend consistently
watching their loved
one make poor choices.
It’s like Jesus exclaims,
Oh! If only you knew the things that would make you free!
At this happy reunion,
Jesus weeps for the ways in which
his beloveds are still unhappy,
for the ways in which they are still trapped
in the washing machine of their minds
which tell them they need to be better,
fitter, more chipper, or richer.
Our liberator comes to bring us peace.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom;
it encapsulates so much more than the absence of violence.
Shalom means wholeness, restoration, and well-being.
Now I am curious.
Do you know the things that will make you whole?
I am not sure if I do.
I would like to think that I know better than the disciples.
I would like to think that if I went back in time to the first Holy Week
that I would know what would bring me peace.
I would like to think that I would make good choices,
that I would, ya know, be the “good one.”
It’s a tempting thought.
Yet, in reality, if Jesus asked me to pull an all-nighter while he prayed,
I would be the first one to fall asleep.
All my loved ones know I often fall asleep by 8 p.m.
As someone familiar with fear-filled thoughts,
I, too, would panic and abandon Jesus at scary moments.
When Jesus didn’t meet my expectations,
I, too, would angrily shout, “Crucify him!”
When Jesus didn’t act in his own self-interest,
I, too, would shout to Jesus, “Save yourself,”
because I know that is what I would do.
That’s human instinct: you save yourself.
Jesus’ lament, it turns out, is for us, too.
If only you would know the things that would bring you peace.
Immediately after weeping over his beloved,
Jesus enters the Temple and begins to clear it out.
Every vendor is thrown out.
Tossing out the vendors, Jesus admonishes,
“Scripture says, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer’—
but you have made it a den of thieves.”
What in us needs to be cleared out to make way for peace?
What do you need to confess to make way for peace?
Here’s my confession:
I don’t know what makes for peace.
Our drive to dominate and control will never lead to peace.
The only one who knows what makes for peace is Jesus.
Now I am understanding!
On Palm Sunday, the people came to cheer on a new political leader,
one who they think could overtake Rome by force,
one who they think will free their country and make it the newest national powerhouse.
The local authorities take this threat seriously.
There’s a new political leader threatening Roman rule.
The local authorities are in cahoots with Rome.
Oh no! They think, Jesus will get us in trouble.
Better shush him. Quiet him. Kill him.
They think that this will make for peace in their land.
Both the people and the authorities
mistakenly think their vision will bring peace.
Then comes Jesus on a colt or a baby horse.
Jesus and the baby horse ride over people’s grubby coats.
Jesus’ skill is that he stops and listens when people talk to him.
Jesus’ wealth is the bread he borrows from others to make a feast.
This Jesus comes to us telling us that we don’t need a powerhouse.
What we need is to be rid of unjust systems of power.
This is the threatening message that Jesus comes to bring!
No more kings! No more kingdoms!
Only kin-doms! Only commonwealths!
Christ brings a totally different vision of peace.
Christ is not just a bigger version of our best and worst traits.
Christ is not vengeful like we are vengeful.
Christ is not violent like we are violent.
Christ does not seek to be the ruling power,
like we seek to be the ruling power.
Rather, Christ accompanies us.
Christ enters into a gentle relationship with us.
Into his hands, Jesus takes the feet of Judas.
Tenderly, Jesus caresses and cleans his feet.
To the disciples who would flee in fear,
Jesus turns and gives bread and wine,
sustaining their bodies and souls alike.
To the prisoner crucified beside him,
Jesus promises, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Lover and loved, liberator and liberated,
Then, from the cross, Christ cries out,
Forgive them; they know not what they do.
This is the ultimate judgment Christ renders: forgiveness.
As the world and our mind mete out harsh judgments,
Christ metes out soft mercy.
That is how the story of Holy Week will end.
When we are at our worst,
God’s judgment will be forgiveness.
Relinquish your futile schemes for salvation.
Untie the colt for God has need of it.
God’s ways are surer than our ways.
Put your trust in Christ the peacemaker;
join the peace party!
The world is a turbulent place. Our souls are unsettled.
Jesus experiences this and meets us with grace.
This is what saves us.
That God has a vision of wholeness that is completely unlike ours.
If only we would have the humility to say,
Hosanna! Save us!