Reverend Rob Lamerton
4 April 2004, Palm Sunday / Passion Sunday
The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, or, as the movie is called "The Passion of the Christ": what is this passion? We mostly think of passion as strength of feeling "She has a passion for her work"…
But originally, the word comes from the Latin passio, meaning "suffering" and so it is the suffering of the Christ.
It is in each of the versions, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John … one long narration—quite different from the other gospel stories which are short stories connected by the author. The passion stories differ from the other parts of the gospels in their continuity and their agreement, but of course they each give their own slant to the message.
Each of the four evangelists has his own distinctive view of the passion.
Mark emphasizes the isolation of Christ
Matthew brings out the royalty of Christ in fulfilment of all he had spoken of from the Old Testament—But the royalty is a paradoxical royalty—the reversal of all the accepted royal images.
John too presents a royal Christ.
But Luke takes a different line—instead of tragedy, Luke's theme is pathos—that quality which evokes pity and sadness!
Luk's is a story of Jesus the martyr // the opposition which began in his home town grows to its hateful worst.
Luke also portrays Jesus as the one who goes out to others in sympathy—this he does in words of warning to the "Daughters of Jerusalem", in his cry "Father forgive them" and in his words to the criminal "Today you will be with me".
We must note also the severity of Christ's death. Luke appears to absolve the Romans from any guilt disconnecting Pilate from responsibility and describing the conversion of the Centurion.
The suffering and Rejection of Jesus in the passion contrasts with the expectation and hope of the welcome only a few days before.
The welcome in Luke's gospel mentions nothing of palm branches! Nor are there hosannas. Instead, the people place their cloaks on the path and Jesus rides a colt which recalls the welcome of the ancient king Jehu.
Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heaven.
>Here Jesus is welcomed as the Messiah, the anointed one—which makes his rejection a suffering all the more pitiful and sad!
It was of course his upsetting of tradition and challenge of age old traditions in Temple, Priesthood and authority which his welcomers found unacceptable.
How fickle and without thought are the crowd who find that Jesus has a different agenda to the one they had imagined—I wonder if they had interviewed him about his plans before his arrival if they would have gone along with the parade!
How quickly the mood changes—how fickle we human beings are when things don't fit with our plans and expectations, but that is what this Holy Week is about.
In these events we see judgement
Not just for the Jews—and that has been our failure over many years to blame the Jews—blame someone else for what is a human problem, my problem.
The judgement is on
Dark times for Jesus call us to look into issues for us—looking into our own darkness:
And the darker aspects of our national life
And in our darkness making choices which allow God's light to find ways to improve.
This week reminds us that hard choices taken now have a lasting effect.
taking easy options will bring no real lasting change.
This is after all the crunch time of lent before the pain leads to the dawn of Resurrection.