At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11
in your tender love for the human race
you sent your Son to take our nature,
and to suffer death upon the cross:
in your mercy
enable us to share in his obedience to your will
and in the glorious victory of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
- Isaiah 50:4-9a
- Psalm 31:9-18
- Philippians 2:5-11
- Luke 23:1-49
- Isaiah 65:17-25
- Hymn to the Risen Christ
- Acts 10:34-43
- Luke 24:1-12
A Thought to Ponder
Palm/Passion Sunday – Luke 23:1-49
The Blessing and Procession of Palms: Luke 19:28-40
Typical of his Gospel, Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem portrays the coming of a Messiah of peace. The kings of antiquity rode horses when they came in war, but entering Jerusalem on an ass indicates the “kingship” of peace and service that Jesus has come to exercise. The crowds who welcome Jesus into the city greet him with words similar to the song of the angels in Luke’s nativity narrative: “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Another uniquely Lucan detail is the fact the people do not wave palm branches as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Luke’s crowds place their single most valuable piece of clothing – their cloaks – on the ground to honour Jesus. The holy poor of Luke’s narrative place all that they have at the disposal of their Messiah-king.
The Passion: Luke 22:14 – 23: 56
Throughout his Gospel, Luke’s Jesus has preached the joy of humble servanthood. In his final hours, Jesus exhibits that same great generosity, forgiving spirit and abandonment for the sake of others. Only in Luke’s account of the Passion does Jesus heal the severed ear of the high priest’s servant. He does not rebuke his disciples for falling asleep during the garden watch. He urges the women of Jerusalem not to be concerned for him but for themselves: if such injustice can befall the innocent Jesus (the “green wood”), what horrors await an unrepentant (“dry”) Jerusalem? At the Place of the Skull, Jesus’ crucifixion becomes an occasion for divine forgiveness: he prays God will forgive his executioners and promises paradise to the penitent thief crucified with him. Even Jesus’ final words on the cross are not words of abandonment but of hope: Luke’s Crucified does not cry out Psalm 22 (as he does in Matthew and Mark’s narrative) but prays Psalm 31:5-6: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Luke’s Jesus is the Suffering Servant whose death for the sake of humanity will be exalted in the Resurrection three days hence.
Reading 1: Isaiah 50:4-7
Reading 1 is taken from Deutero-Isaiah’s “Servant songs,” the prophet’s foretelling of the “servant of God” who will come to redeem Israel. In this third song, Isaiah portrays the servant as a devoted teacher of God’s Word who is ridiculed and abused by those who are threatened by his teaching.
Reading 2: Philippians 2:6-11
In his letter to the Christian community at Philippi (in north-eastern Greece), Paul quotes what many scholars believe is an early Christian hymn (Reading 2). As Christ totally and unselfishly “emptied himself” to accept crucifixion for our sakes, so we must “empty” ourselves for others.
There is a certain incongruity about today’s Palm Sunday liturgy. We begin with a sense of celebration – we carry palm branches and echo the Hosannas (from the Hebrew “God save [us]”) shouted by the people of Jerusalem as Jesus enters the city. But Luke’s account of the Passion confronts us with the cruelty, injustice and selfishness that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. We welcome the Christ of victory, the Christ of Palm Sunday, but we turn away from the Christ of suffering and of the poor, the Christ of Good Friday. These branches of palm are symbols of that incongruity that often exists between the faith we profess on our lips and the faith we profess in our lives.
Luke portrays, in his account of Jesus’ death, a Christ of extraordinary compassion and love, who forgives those who betray and destroy him, who consoles those who grieve for him, whose final breaths give comfort and hope to a condemned criminal who seeks reconciliation with God. The broken yet life-giving body of the Crucified Jesus calls us to embrace that same “attitude” of Christ, that we may bring the same healing, reconciliation and hope to all the broken members of his body.The Gospel calls us to take on what Paul calls the “attitude of Christ Jesus” (Reading 1) in his passion and death: to “empty” ourselves of our own interests, fears and needs for the sake of others; to realise how our actions affect them and how our moral and ethical decisions impact the common good; to reach out to heal the hurt and comfort the despairing around us despite our own betrayal; to carry on, with joy and in hope, despite rejection, humiliation and suffering.
In our remembering the events of Holy Week, Jesus will turn our world and its value system upside down: true authority is found in dedicated service and generosity to others; greatness is centred in humility; the just and loving will be exalted by God in God’s time.
Today’s liturgy confronts us with the reality of the cross of Christ: by the cross, we are reconciled to God; by the cross, our lives are transformed in the perfect love of Christ; by the cross, Jesus’ spirit of humility and compassion become a force of hope and re-creation for our desperate world.
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Sermon[cpm-player skin=”device-player-skin” width=”450″ playlist=”true” type=”audio”] [cpm-item file=”https://greenwoodanglican.files.wordpress.com/2023/06/7668e-palm-passion-sunday-c.m4a”%5DPalm Passion Sunday C[/cpm-item] [/cpm-player]
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