The worship service this morning began with a reading from Mark’s gospel relating the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We could have stopped there with the scripture readings. But then those who couldn’t make the Thursday and Friday services would have missed hearing the Passion story.
Hearing both the passion and the palms allows us the opportunity to reflect and meditate on the entire narrative. The most important reason for hearing both is to understand the relationship between the death and resurrection of Jesus. To understand the resurrection, we must contemplate the passion of Jesus. We should use each day of this Holy Week to meditate on the mystery of the cross before we hear the glorious Good News on Easter Sunday.
Last week we reflected on what we would say if someone came to us and told us they wanted to see Jesus. And we thought about how we would respond, what would we say, what is the most important message we could give them.
Today I have something more to say about that. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians beginning in chapter fifteen, the first important thing everyone should know. It fits right in with what we are to reflect on this week. The Messiah died for our sins, he was buried, he was raised from the dead on the third day, and he presented himself alive to Peter and then to the Twelve. It’s almost too simple don’t you think?
But that’s it. Jesus was killed, buried, and resurrected. And the part that matters the most is the cross. It’s just a piece of wood but oh, what a piece of wood.
It is precious to some and a stumbling block to others. You either believe in the power of the cross or you don’t. But it’s there and people still talk about it.
Some where a reminder of it around their necks and others keep replicas of the cross in their homes or where they work.
As Max Lucado says in his book, “No Wonder they Call Him the Savior,” “No one can ignore it.” He said, “The bottom line of the cross is sobering: if the account is true, it is history’s hinge. Period. If not, it is history’s hoax.”
Friends, that’s why the cross is what matters. That’s why it’s important for all of us to hear what happened in Jesus’ life in those last days. Not only do we need to hear about Peter’s denial of Jesus, we need to hear how Pilate hesitated, and hear of John’s loyalty. We need to hear what happened in Gethsemane when Jesus prayed and when he was arrested.
This week, along with many people all over the world, let’s re-examine this time in history. Read the account again in each of the gospels. Listen to their voices, get a mental image of their faces. And most important of all look at the One, we call our Savior. See if you can find the part that matters most.
Thanks be to God. Amen.