Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday: The First Day of Holy Week

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. Today, Jesus came to Jerusalem amidst hosannas and the waving of palm branches. But merely five days later, his own disciple would sell him to the Jewish authority for thirty pieces of silver (worth around 13,000 dollars today). What created such hatred in the Jews, in his disciples, in his former friends? What did people accept Jesus to accomplish?

Where do we look for God? Do we look at the every day person and realize that any one of those people could have been Jesus? Jesus was not a priest, he was not a highly acclaimed Rabbi - not in the eyes of the Ruling Authority anyway. Apart from miracles, Jesus seemed like an ordinary teacher from the outside. Later, he was even a criminal. God chose to be a criminal!

Why doesn't Christ take himself off the cross? Why doesn't he prove to them, prove to everyone that he is in fact the Lord of all? Jesus told us earlier in the Gospel of Luke in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

"If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

The Hebrew scriptures are filled with Messianic prophesies. If the Jews had listened to Moses and the prophets (particularly Isaiah), they would have understood that the Messiah would come as a suffering servant. The ones who mocked Jesus did not believe in him. Without faith, miracles do not exist. With faith, we trust that death does not have the last word, that God will triumph in the end. For in the end, Jesus did rise from the dead, but the only ones who saw him were those who believed in him. This is how God chose to reveal himself to us - not by taking himself off the cross but by submitting himself to his creation. The proof that Jesus is God is not in his miracles because those who do not first have faith will never believe in his miracles, will never believe that he conquered the grave. It is from his words and in his suffering that we know God face-to-face.

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