April 1, 2012

Mark 11:1-11 I guess it wouldn’t have been unusual for the crowds to gather near Bethany, just outside Jerusalem. Especially in the days leading up to one of the great festivals, people would come out of their homes to welcome the pilgrims. There would have been lots of pilgrims on the road, making their way from the little towns and villages, going up to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. For many it would have been a long journey, something for which they had planned and anticipated, perhaps for years. They walked with their families and friends, camping beside the road, and sharing provisions with others that they met along the way. When the pilgrims got to Bethany they knew that they were almost there, and the excitement was palpable. Those who lived nearby came out to greet them, almost as if they were in a parade. And I imagine the people singing as they walked, singing the joyful pilgrimage psalms written especially for occasions such as these: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” And so Jesus came into Jerusalem. He and his friends joined in the procession and were greeted by the singing and cheering crowds as they went up to Jerusalem to celebrate God’s mercy and love at the Passover. But as the Gospel writers tell the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, they tell us in various ways that this was no ordinary procession. This was … Read more »

March 25, 2018

Mark 11:1-11 Mark 15 Philippians 2:5-11 “The Reason You Walk” It was the choir’s anthem for today, the American Spiritual “Ride On, King Jesus,” that got me thinking about Jesus’ journey through Holy Week. It was chosen innocently enough, as an anthem about the Triumphal Entry. But when Bill invited me to share with the choir about how the anthem would fit into the service on Palm Sunday, I started to realize that it was about more than just the Palm Parade. “Ride on, King Jesus,” we sang, “No one can hinder him.” And we pictured Jesus on the donkey and the crowds laying down their cloaks and branches like a red carpet for the King. But the repeated words, “No one can hinder him” seemed odd, because no one was trying to get in his way or stop him from entering Jerusalem that day. The crowds cheered for him and hailed him as their King! They cried out “Hosanna!” – “Lord, save us!” because they believed (at least for a moment) that he was the ruler who had come to save them from their oppressors. What I suggested to the choir was that the journey of Jesus in the song is not just the entry into Jerusalem. It points ahead to the next part of his journey, through betrayal, arrest, denial, and all the way to the cross. And do you remember who tried to hinder him in making that journey? His own disciples did! When Jesus told his … Read more »