Saturday, April 12, 2014

Palm/Passion Sunday - It Wasn't Supposed to End Like This- Or Was It?

Reading for Palm/Passion Sunday John 12:12-50 and 19:23-42

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Just five days ago, they crowded around him, cheered into him as he rode into town triumphantly.  Crowds waving palms and shouting, as the prophet Zechariah foretold:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

Now five days later they are now they were scattered and silent at this unexpected end of his journey.
One by one they had abandoned him:
Judas leaving their final meal together, leaving early to betray him.
The rest of them running for their lives from the garden where he was arrested.
Peter, following to the high priest’s house, but denying he was a disciple

Now just a few are remain with him as he hangs on the cross,
The women standing, at the foot of the cross,
with his mother Mary,
and the disciple Jesus loved-
   some say this was John, some say Lazarus.

Imagine Mary’s pain watching her son die-
every parent who’s lost a child knows that pain.
She wishes it was her instead of him,
each stroke of the hammer driving the nails into his hand, his feet,
-the trusting hand she held, the baby feet she kissed -
was a sword piercing her to her very soul.

The women there share Mary’s a pain.
This is a woman’s lot -to stand watch in the dying hours,
to wash and prepare him for burial.

A bit further away are the chief priests and religious leaders,
witnessing this death, satisfaction on their faces.
They have done their duty -
the threat to the faith and the people is dying on that cross.
Joseph of Arimathea is with them,
Nicodemus is there too,
their faces saddened and puzzled.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

One by one, the disciples (except for Judas)
made their way back to the upper room,
an ordinary room now sacred to them
because it’s the last time they shared a meal with him,
It was their last happy hours together.

Peter, comes in last.
He’s unusually quiet,
They don’t know he’s filled with shame
filled with guilt.

They begin to talk.
He said he was going to the Father’s house
to prepare a place for them (John 14:1-6), 
- surely dying on a cross was not what he meant,
was it?
Could it be?

He said he would come back and take them to the place prepared for them.
How does someone come back from such a death?
What kind of place does his death prepare for them?
And would they even want to go?

He said they couldn’t follow now,
but that they would know the way,
because he was the way, the truth and the life.

He said that no one had greater love
than to lay down his life for a friend.
And now he was dying. (John 15:13)

He said to love one another
as he loved them. (John 15:12)
How could they love each other like that?

He promised the Holy Spirit would come,
and remind them of all he said,
and teach them everything. (John 14:26)
Where is that Spirit?
They want to make sense of this.

He told them to not be troubled, (John 14:1)
that he left his peace with them,
that they should not be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)
They have no peace.
They are troubled,
They are very afraid.
How could they not be so?

It wasn’t supposed to end like this!

But having loved his own, Jesus loved them to the end. (John 13:1)

Even while hanging there on the cross, he loved them,
cared for them.

He looked at his mother,
and the disciple whom he loved.

Woman, here is your son.
Here is your mother. (John 19:26-27)

It wasn’t necessary for Jesus
to make arrangements for someone to care for his mother
after his death -
he had brothers,she had other sons, to care for her.

This giving is intentional,
it’s the beginning of something new,
something birthed in the water and blood
that flowed from his side that day.

At the foot of the cross,
our eyes are on Jesus,
and then we look around
and see we aren’t alone.

There is a new family formed-
Woman, here is your son,
Here is your mother,
Here is your brother,
Here is your sister.

It’s a new family, a community flowing
through water and blood,
a community that surpassed any other on earth -
the family bonds of flesh and blood,
the loyal bonds of friendship,
         the allegiance to tribe and nation,
         or any other earthly tie.

Through the blood of Christ
and the waters of baptism
we become the daughters and sons of God-
loving each other as Jesus loves us,
sharing each others joys and sorrows,
figuring out how to live and love as Jesus taught.

This new community begins to come together
at the foot of the cross -
the women sharing grief at the cross,
bearing witness to Jesus suffering,
watching him being buried,
not being able  to prepare the body themselves,
planning to come back on Sunday morning.

The beloved disciple
gathering the mother of Jesus to his heart,
walking away together,
taking her into his home.

Joseph, no longer a secret believer,
boldly facing governors and powers,
professing his commitment
by claiming Jesus’ body for burial.

Nicodemus,no longer in the dark,
professing his faith in the perfume
of a hundred pounds of spices,
an extravagant, abundant offering of gratitude.

This new community begins to come together
in that upper room,
where they comfort each other,
share their grief,

trying to figure out what it all means.
Why did he die?
When will he come back?
How can a man defeat death,
only God can do that…
does that mean
they have been in the presence of God?

During Lent,
our eyes are turned to the body of Christ,
broken for us, the blood of Christ shed for us.
And at the food of the cross,
we also discern the Body of Christ
here on earth
this community of believers
entrusted by Jesus care for one another,
commanded by Jesus to love one another.
lean on each other in times of  trouble,
bear each other’s burdens,
support each other in those times when we can’t see any hope
     and all  we have are promises we don’t fully understand.

We are the beloved disciple-
Some say that John didn’t give this disciple’s name
so that the beloved community could see that
this most loved disciple
is them,
is us.

We are the beloved disciple,
    whom Jesus
knew fully as God’s good creation,
    beloved sons and daughters of the Father.
even in those moments when we betray,deny or abandon him,
         in those moments when we run away in fear
         in those moments when we have no hope
and can’t begin to understand his promises.

         loved us
to the end
by laying down his life for us.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you pull in the sayings of Jesus from other passages!