Holy Week

By Rev. Patricia Parrish | 2024-03-21 | 3 min read

March 24th is what is traditionally known as Palm Sunday. Many congregations have rich traditions surrounding the celebration of this day in the Christian calendar. Often children will process into the sanctuary waving palms while adults hold their own festive branch or have one pinned to their clothes. Sometimes children’s choirs will sing, or crosses made of palm fronds will be distributed to those gathered to remember what is known as the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into the City of Jerusalem. We think of it as a festive time when the crowds finally realized who Jesus was/is and named him the “king who comes in the name of the Lord (Luke 19:38). Some have even likened it to a parade.

But for Jesus and for those who feared Him, it was a pivotal moment. The crowds were shouting things that Romans shouldn’t hear - like talk of kings. Such language could cause political retribution for the entire population. Therefore, those who feared Jesus begged him to silence his followers, but Jesus recognized this pivotal moment. In the previous weeks, he had told his disciples that He would be killed and that on the third day He would rise again. The disciples were confused by his words, but Jesus understood the significance of this moment. He knew that everything was about to change. And while the crowds were shouting with joy and those who feared Jesus begged him to silence them, Jesus stopped and mourned for God’s people:

“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God”. (Luke 19:41-44)

And then, he rode on. He rode on.

As a Pastor, I learned to refer to this day as Palm/Passion Sunday. The lectionary gives the preacher the choice of preaching texts about the palms or texts about the passion of Jesus. Perhaps they are right to do so, but the celebration of palms is always overshadowed by the events of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. As Jesus descended the Mount of Olives and looked over the city of Jerusalem, he saw those shadows. He acknowledged them; and he rode on. For him, this day, his life, was not about glory. It was about being one with the Father and being one with us. The Incarnate Son of God rode on to be with us, to be for us. Therefore, whatever the day or the season, the shadows fall away, and we begin to see the dawn of Easter. Thanks be to God.

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