“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel.”(Jn 12:13)
What a triumph! Jesus is welcomed into the city of Jerusalem like royalty!
The scene is set for the most intense drama of our human history.
And yet this “good King Jesus” would later say to Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”(Jn 18:36)
This is the mystery of dying and rising; the mystery of humiliation and exaltation; the mystery of suffering and glorification; the mystery of death in order to live eternally; and the mystery of defeat which is crowned with victory.
It is all of these things and more … it is the mystery of our salvation in Jesus Christ!
Sadly, it is also the story of our weak, fallen human nature. We can be a fickle lot, not too much different from the crowds who shouted “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday and screamed “Crucify him!” on Good Friday.
It’s a story filled with contradictions. What about you? What about me?
Are the “Hosannas” we give to our King empty or sincere? Are we willing to follow Jesus into Jerusalem … to Calvary … to the empty tomb?
If we sincerely pray the Passion, the account of Jesus’ suffering and death, we can follow no other path. And yet, when it is our turn to claim Jesus as “Lord and Christ,” we often find ourselves next to Peter in the courtyard saying, “I do not know him.”
Does Jesus say that of us? I think not!
Remember the great prayer of Jesus in John’s Gospel, “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”(Jn 17:24)
The remainder of this Holy Week and upcoming Easter season offer us the opportunity to recognize the great gift Jesus is to us. In one sense, each of us stands alone before Jesus Christ.
Like Judas, Caiaphas, Pilate, Pilate’s wife, Simon of Cyrene, the Roman centurion, Peter, Mary and all who had a role in the passion and death of Jesus. Will we stand there silently or will we profess our faith and offer to walk with him?
Each of us is called to decide whether we stand motionless before Jesus or whether we walk with him. Our attitudes and actions will speak volumes about that commitment.
A part of this is whether we’re faithful to Christian principles: principles of justice, of peace, of married life, of human existence. Jesus didn’t suffer and die to exempt us from suffering and dying, but to redeem us and show how to suffer and die.
Just so … Jesus didn’t rise, victorious over sin and death to bring a “happy ending” to the great story of our salvation. As Paul reminds us, “If then we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
"We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.”(Rom 6:8,9)
This gives us cause to rejoice this Easter Sunday and every Easter Sunday of our lives! Even if our “Hosannas” have been empty, our “Alleluias” can be joyful!
May you and yours be filled with the hope and promise of new life in Christ Jesus this Easter and beyond!