My wife and I were at our church on Palm Sunday when we encountered something new. I’ve read the four Passion Week accounts of the Gospels many times in my life. Whether reading them aloud, or in my head, I never came across a certain dramatization of it. But this past week, this time, it was different.
We read through the Scripture readings for that morning, working our way through the triumphant Palm Sunday narrative. In the Anglican tradition, worship is more of a whole body tradition and is not a pure spectator sport as some church services have been set up as. On Palm Sunday you are given a branch, to wave in the air. The palms are there to help draw you into the story, to place you on the road to Jerusalem, seeing the Messiah ride up into the city. Palm Sunday is a triumphant day, as the Messiah finally arrives on the scene to set up his Kingdom. Sadly, that’s not the case.
A few short days later in Jerusalem, shouts would come from the crowd again. While the congregation at my church cried out similarly in joy when Jesus came to the city, the congregation would flip a few minutes later.
The reading from Luke 23 was read with several voices. A narrator, Pilate, and Jesus all were voiced by three different people, yet the part of the crowds were played by, well, the crowd. It was here that I was placed among the people who shouted “Crucify him!”
How often does that happen though? How often do I flip from praises to curses? How do you line up?
I don’t like being put in that spot. Admitting that I would be in the crowd, chanting “Crucify him!” Wanting a murderer to be set free, and this Jesus guy to be put in his place. I know if I was in the crowd, I probably would have joined the others. I know if I was put in the sandals of Peter, I too would have fled from my faith.
I readily admit my weakness to you, because I know while my weakness is great, the strength of the Risen Lord is far greater. Where I am strong, he is stronger still. The Risen Lord that we celebrated on Easter ascended to the right hand of his Father, and one day he will return again and put the world to rights. Even when I yelled “Crucify Him!”, this gracious God would let me come back into his fold. For the crucified Christ is also a forgiving Lord.