Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-17
As we reflect and prepare for Easter we go back to the start of the Passion week to transport our recollection of the moments of the first Easter. (For a more studious look at the political climate during this time read NT Wright on Palm Sunday.)
As we approach that first Palm Sunday imagine the contrast. On Sunday hailed as King, the people cry out, “Hosanna!”. Not even a week later, perhaps the same people, cry out, “CRUCIFY….”
Have you ever been in that place?
When we get in really big jams we tend to pray harder, really hard depending on how deep the hole is we’re trying to get out of. Then sometimes there’s this moment we think God delivered us from the depths of our predicament, but immediately realize we understood wrong and we’re still stuck, then in the same breathe after we expressed huge praise to God for deliverance, we curse God and scream, “why did you do this to me!”
That kind of feeling is a reflection of the people during that Passion week–most of us can connect to the about face.
Imagine how Jesus must have felt.
When we consider the Passion narrative the obvious question we should ask: what and how does the death of Jesus solve anything?
This is an important question given the amount of noise we constantly hear between different Christian perspectives. Did Jesus die to appease the wrath God has over ‘sin’? How does killing someone appease God? Seems a bit morbid.
The Bible offers us many ‘reasons’ why Jesus dies. Keeping in mind we have to interpret what Jesus is saying in light of hist first century Jerusalem context, Easter–the death of Jesus–should have an real implications, tangible and visceral associations to the hope of the world. That’s where the crux of our beliefs rest–in the hope.
There is a hope we can touch, an unchanging dream God has to usher in a new moment when all the wrongs are turned right. We constantly talk about joining God’s unfolding Kingdom, participating in this work, this mission of love, justice, beauty, and hope. God is a God on mission to reconcile all of creation to Him. That’s a fancy way to say that there is a pursuit for God, out of love, to rescue his people. But rescue from what?
The Sunday school answer is ‘from sin’. But what does that even mean? Heck, if you’re happy with your life Jesus honesty doesn’t seem to solve very much. Although, if we’re honest and think about the foundation of what we represent (and why) we may be faced with some missing pieces. Culturally we pursue a good life (sometimes that means family) of comfort and the pursuit of happy. I think most of us would also echo the notion that there are some deeper things with life. The belief and pursuit of justice, beauty, life purpose, and most importantly–love. If we agree these things are good, then our lies should be also be based on these these goals.
For me, I haven’t found a ‘system’ or a ‘politic’ or even a ‘religion’ that at its core pushes people to pursue these goals.
What I have found, however, is Jesus.
Seems cliché, but here’s why.
A lot of Christians rest the entirety of their dogma on the death of Jesus, and his death saves us from our own spiritual consequence of eternity in perdition. However, the death of the Christ does nothing in itself. It is the triumph of death, the mystery and miracle of resurrection, where we garner the entirety of our identity and hope.
It is victory of death, victory of the symbol of all that is ‘bad’, that becomes the starting point and promise that someday that victory will translate to everything else. Victory over all of death and decay, of disease, of sorrow, of injustice, and on, and on……..
That’s the hope of Jesus. Easter is a reminder of that our future hope that all wrongs will turn right was inaugurated that first Easter, continues to unravel today, and will one day be complete.