How far will you go with Jesus?

– do you get excited by Palm Sunday? Why?

– is it the joy of the procession of palms with shouts of praise?

                           Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

                           Hosanna in the highest

– is it the thrill of Jesus entering the holy city Jerusalem in triumph? He always said that he must return to Jerusalem.

– is it the truth of Jesus being greeted as the Son of David, a prophet, the Messiah and a King?

– for all these reasons Palm Sunday is an exciting time

And yet our procession, our voyage, our pilgrimage does not end as Jesus approaches Jerusalem, but continues, taking a sudden turn. Jesus, looking across the Kidron Valley to the city of Jerusalem, begins to weep. And as our liturgy explains:

the path before Jesus led to self-giving, suffering, and death. Today we greet him as our King, although we know his crown is thorns and his throne a cross. We follow him this week from the glory of the palms to the glory of the resurrection by way of the dark road of suffering and death.

A turn to suffering and death? My question for you today as we enter Holy Week is; “How far will you go with Jesus?” How long will you stay with him?” Perhaps even more to the point; “How close will you get to the cross? How close? That is where Jesus is headed. Will you be united with him on the cross so that you may share with him his resurrection and new life? Will you follow him in the way that leads to eternal life? You have a lot of choices.

Will you be just a passer  by?

         You loved the palms and singing hosanna, but you do not want any part of the cross. As soon as Jesus heads toward Golgotha, the place of the skull, you pass by and leave him. No dark road of suffering and death for you. Unfortunately, if you just pass by and don’t go to the cross, you will not know what resurrection is or means. For you cannot have Easter without Good Friday.

Or will you be Simon of Cyrene?

         Poor Simon. Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time. Here he was a visitor to Jerusalem from Northern Africa. He happened to be passing the Governor’s palace, perhaps admiring it, when out comes some Roman soldiers with this man who has been stripped and is bleeding from his head with a crown of thorns on it. The soldiers grasp Simon and say “Carry this cross“. Simon knows he has no choice. So he carries it up to that dreaded place Golgotha, probably wondering if he too will die.

Do you come to the cross of Jesus because you have no choice? Because you feel forced? Because you feel afraid? That is okay. Or are you already carrying a cross? A burden? A sin? Are you suffering? No matter how you might be carrying a cross right now, remember God is with you. God always brings us through. Jesus is beside you. You are beside Jesus. Stay with him.

As we will see on Good Friday, imagine now Jesus on the Cross. How long will you stay with Jesus now?

Will you be a Bystander?

It is not easy to listen to what is going on. This is a dark road. People beside you deride Jesus, and shake their heads saying; “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!”

The Chief priests, scribes and elders are yelling; “He saved others, he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.”

The Roman soldiers have put up a mocking sign above Jesus’ head; “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.” They are dividing up his clothes.

The secular non-believing world cries out right beside you.

The secular non-believing world cries out right beside us right now. I mentioned Holy Week to someone a few days ago, and they did not know what I was talking about.

On Good Friday, and even on this coming Friday, will you stay with Jesus and be faithful to God?

Will you allow Jesus himself to remind you of the “Missio Dei”, the Mission of God?   

Or will you be like the two Marys and the beloved disciple?

Will you never desert Jesus and stay close with him all the way? Here you are so close you can see the town below in the distance, you see the soldiers leave with the clothing, you can smell the wine they offer to Jesus. You can read the sign above Jesus’ head. You can see Jesus’ blood falling down the cross to the earth. You hear his pain. And you hear him say to the bandit on the cross beside him; “Today you will be with me in paradise”. And you hear Jesus speaking right to Mary; “Woman, here is your son…and to the beloved disciple here is your mother.”  And you hear Jesus breathe his last; “It is finished.”

 Today I invite you all to continue to walk with Jesus through this Holy Week from the glory of the palms to the glory of the resurrection. Follow Jesus in the way that leads to eternal life.

Come close to the cross, come very close. Be with Jesus. And do just as Jesus did, commend yourself to God. Recommit yourself to the Lord, and on this dark road of self-giving, suffering and death, just wait. Wait in silence. Wait in silence.

Discover that walking the way of the Cross is finding the very way of life, life eternal. As the centurion said, “Truly this man was God’s son!”.

Thanks be to God.

Amen.

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