Lent.6–Palm/Passion Sunday

by admin on April 16, 2014

Reflections for 13 April 2014
Matthew 21: 1-11; Zechariah 9:9; 14:4; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Happy Holy Week. Last week of Jesus life and earthly ministry pre-resurrection. Palm Sunday—triumphal entry – TO – Passion Sunday—suffering and death.

Gospels = passions narratives with extended introductions. Notice the space devoted to the story therein. What is the point? The crucified messiah. This is the heart of Christian proclamation. The purpose of such proclamation in NOT information but transformation. The story of Jesus serves as replacement narrative for the prevailing stories we tell about ourselves and the world.

“Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.” Eugene Peterson

George Lindbeck: to become a Christian involves learning the story of Jesus well enough to interpret and experience your world and yourself in its terms.

Today I want to consider three passages and how they intertwine and more importantly how they propose an alternative way to live our lives. This alternative is already working. Proclamation is about the telling of and pointing to a realized reality. This is more than wishful thinking, this is real stuff. Jesus Christ alive in you and empowering you to live that qualitatively different life.

Remember…..it’s about progress not perfection. That is, giving up your schemes to the grace of God. 12 step thought: God is doing for us what we could not / cannot do for ourselves.

WHAT? (Matthew 21)
This passage begins Matthew’s fifth division (5 = Pentateuch). Jesus arrives in Jerusalem. Journey began back in 16:21from that time…. Jesus arrives, he challenges the religious leaders’ center of power (Temple—overturns money changer tables). He is willfully killed.

Think in terms of parades. Entry processions are important occasions for Imperial Rome: they displayed Roman political and military power. Jesus’ entry parodies this mindset. Riding a donkey instead of a warhorse, his goal is not domination, intimidation or greatness but humble service. Function of this opening scene is to exhibit Jesus’ royal status in a public way. Remember Good Friday—Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Steeped in irony.

The reality is that this was no large scale parade. Jesus acts out Zechariah.

V1⇒ Bethpage, MOO. Place of eschatological judgment and salvation. God will come and take care of these heathens and save us from them. But Jesus ministry already illustrates Kingdom of God. Remember the large scale cemeteries on Jerusalem’s east side?..…want to be first in line when the Messiah comes.

Vv2-3⇒ God’s eschatological king as he arrives to Zion will ride a donkey in marked contrast to the horse and rider (Egyptian and Babylonian/Persian military-industrial complex machines) Jesus fulfills Jewish expectation in Zechariah 9.

Vv4-5⇒ Zechariah 9:14 celebrates God’s defeat of Israel’s enemies and establishment of Gods reign. It is already underway in Jesus and will be completed in his return (Mt 24:27-31 Son of man comes in great glory). Zechariah was written mid-5th century BC. Greco-Persian wars; economic hardship; Jerusalem delayed in resettlement. “Trouble don’t last always.”

Vv6-7⇒ Jesus’ words prove trustworthy; the disciple obeys. It’s just as he predicted.

Vv8-11⇒ Journeying pilgrims celebrate with branches of liberation. (1 Maccabees 13:49-51; 2 Maccabees 10. Purification of Temple after Syrian Seleucids: Antiochus Epiphanes). Think in terms of political signs and sports pennants.

Hosanna = save us. Psalm 118:21-27. Psalter for Succoth. (think Passover, too).

Final irony: Jerusalem the seat of power for the ruling elite fails to welcome Jesus. Crowds have an incomplete picture of Jesus as prophet. He is Son of Man/God’s agent on earth.

SO WHAT?
1. Everything Jesus preached about—particularly in the Sermon on Mount, which for Matthew was Jesus signature message—is about to be tested for its validity. V5 “humble” is better translated as “gentle.” (Here Matthew is quoting LXX.) As a king coming into his conquered territory wouldn’t he be brandishing some sort of weapon? No sword. Is Jesus here living out his teaching in 5:39—do not resist evil? How would this play out for you?

2. Matthew heightens the effect of messiah’s entry by reporting that the whole city was stirred (v10). evsei,sqh pa/sa h` po,lij

Literally= earthquake. Seismic shift. C.f. 27:51 earth shakes at Jesus death. The city is shaken to its foundations. Remember as well in Matthew King Herod’s reaction to the news of a new born king. Matthew 2:3When Herod heard this he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him. Jesus has an unsettling effect on others. How does he unsettle you? What seismic shifts have occurred?

NOW WHAT?
Assimilating and metabolizing. How does the movement from Palm Sunday triumph to Passion Sunday suffering death and burial rewrite some of the story of you?

Romans 6:3-7 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

Oswald Chambers. My Utmost for His Highest. April 10/11.

Co-Crucifixion. Have I made this decision about sin – that it must be killed right out in me? It takes a long time to come to a moral decision about sin, but it is the great moment in my life when I do decide that just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, so sin must die out in me, not be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be earnestly convinced, and religiously convinced, but what we need to do is to come to the decision which Paul forces here.
Haul yourself up, take a time alone with God, make the moral decision and say – “Lord, identify me with Thy death until I know that sin is dead in me.” Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.
Co-Resurrection. The proof that I have been through crucifixion with Jesus is that I have a decided likeness to Him. The incoming of the Spirit of Jesus into me readjusts my personal life to God. The resurrection of Jesus has given Him authority to impart the life of God to me, and my experimental life must be constructed on the basis of His life. I can have the resurrection life of Jesus now, and it will show itself in holiness.

The idea all through the apostle Paul’s writings is that after the moral decision to be identified with Jesus in His death has been made, the resurrection life of Jesus invades every bit of my human nature. It takes omnipotence to live the life of the Son of God in mortal flesh. The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a Guest in a house, He invades every thing

Happy Holy Week. Have the mind of Christ.

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