Sunday, March 16, 2008

Passion Sunday

Is 50:4-7
Phil 2:6-11
Mt 26:14—27:66 or 27:11-54

The Passion of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. How are you supposed to follow that? I suppose it can be seen in one of two ways. After hearing the Passion, what’s left to say? Or, there is so much to say where can one possibly begin or end? What I choose to do is look at two specific areas. First, when Pilate realizes he is getting nowhere with the crowd and must give Jesus up to crucifixion, he washes his hands of the blood of Jesus, whom he regards as innocent. The people reply, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” For too many years this has been used as an indictment of certain people, blaming them for the death of Christ. How foolish of anyone to see this in that way. The passage says the whole people cried out “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” That whole people, and those children to come later are us, every single person who ever has or ever will live. The Christ died for our sins, yours, mine, everyone’s. As sinners we are responsible for the death of the Christ, our sins put Jesus on that cross. We all share in the death of Christ. We are all responsible.
Second, just before dying, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It sounds like a cry of utter despair, but it is not. This cry is the beginning of Psalm 22, which, in my Bible at least, is titled The Prayer of An Innocent Person. The beginning sounds like despair, but the Psalm ends in great hope. Verse 25 says, “For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.” The final verse says, “The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.” Hope, the Psalm ends with hope. Jesus was undoubtedly familiar with this Psalm. He spoke the beginning, but he knew the end. Surely many who heard him knew what he was quoting, and they also realized how the Psalm ends, not in despair or anguish, but in hope, that those to come would know of the deliverance that was theirs, brought through Christ.

Deacon John
Palm Sunday
March 16, 2008