Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
April 2, 2023
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31: 9-16
Second Reading: Philippians 2: 5-11
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-27:66
Almighty and ever-living God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Palm Sunday is the Sunday of Passion:
We have been in the season of Lent leading towards the comment in our baptism. A reminder that lent is the beginning of our spiritual journey, which prepares us for a worthy celebration. A journey, that means we go with Jesus as He travels to Jerusalem, the place where the mystery of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection is to be fulfilled.
Let The Same Mind Be in You That Was in Christ Jesus
Isaiah 50: 4-9a
In the reading from Isaiah, we have been given a message of hope, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.” We also learn and listen to the Lord; we have been told that “The Lord God helps us and we can stand together.”
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-27:66
We begin this Holy Week on a walk with Jesus as he is making his way to Jerusalem. His last meal was at the home of his dear friends Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Jesus struggles all this week; his approaching death is weighing heavily on him. His soul is troubled and He will ask his Father, to save him from this hour.
He goes out and prays to the Father, before being betrayed. He tells Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, “I am deeply grieved, even to death.” “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” But then, a third time, Jesus’s prays, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
On Good Friday, the situation is out of our control and we walk and stumble along with the rest of the crowds. We are numb and in disbelief as we watch our precious Jesus, spat upon, struck, and slapped. After the hideous trial, they flog him and hand him over to be crucified.
What makes the difference in this Sunday…this Palm Sunday and the Sunday of passion, is that we take part in the Gospel. We become those that were excited in the courtyard, we welcome Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, shouting “Hosanna in the highest”, singing praises, and waving our palms and then we become part of those who then, turned on Jesus and turned him over to the authorities.
We feel the emotion as we recount the story of Jesus’s suffering and death. The crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem was also the same crowd that took part in his betrayal. We all know this lesson of excitement, a shared meal with their beloved teacher and master, then a betrayal for a few bits of silver and a denial of friendship.
No, no it will not be me! I would never deny you! I will never turn you over! “But they did!”
And it begins!
Jesus makes his entry into Jerusalem, and the crowds and the disciples are excited. The moment has come, Jesus has sent for his colt and the crowds are laying down their cloaks before him and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Everyone expected this, they have seen the miracles… Jesus is capable of. Feeding 5000 people on a few loaves of bread and a few fish. He brought his friend Lazarus back from the dead, he made a blind man see, that had been blind since birth.
The Romans and the Jewish religious authorities can no longer pretend that Jesus is not a problem.
He is dangerous. And his disciples, they traveled with him, they had their last supper with him, but now, they slip away into the crowds with fear.
On this Passion Sunday, we remember that Jesus suffered death on the cross for our sins.
Paul urges his readers to imitate Christ’s humility, who “emptied himself” and “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,” and to hold firm to their faith. (2:7–8).
As we began Holy Week, we set our feet on the road to the Last Supper, we give thanks, we go to the garden to pray, then to the cross, and to the tomb. The shape of Jesus’ life is fully realized and revealed in the passion, death, and resurrection. In our lives, this is celebrated and effected in Holy Communion. Like his disciples, we are asked to take this bread and wine eat and drink in remembrance of him.
Life in God is given in adoration and joy, thankfulness and acceptance, humility, and obedience. In our suffering, we may witness fully to the truth of our lives in giving up ourselves to God, receiving the good for what it is, rejoicing in the good, giving thanks, and adoration. In the love of God, we are with humility, dawning us in obedience to God’s command to love one another as Christ loved us.
Why did Jesus suffer? Because God loves you and Christ willingly went to the Cross for you.The Eucharist the Church’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself.
There are the words, “Take, eat” and “Drink this, all of you.” These words of invitation to get up and meet Jesus and partake, His very real presence, as we remember his suffering and death. The story circles around back from the passion to the table of The Last Supper, with an invitation to join Him once again.
We are now assured and we can also say, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”. There was no other way for sin’s penalty to be paid, and for us to be redeemed.
The Cross is the measure of God’s love.
The Rev. Lola Culbreath