Palm Sunday

This morning I was reading in John about the story of the triumphal entry of Jesus. This time of year is set aside for remembrance, so I make a point to do so. I think it is important…at least to me. The thing is, that each year when I look at these passages something different jumps out at me. It really is a section of scripture that has so many powerful images that you could study it over and over and never get all that is packed in there. I mean Jesus knows he is going to die. He knows how. He knows what is ahead. These are his last words to his followers, so I know they are his heartbeat. If you are facing death, the things you say are the important ones. Trust me on that.
However, as he speaks those followers totally miss what he is saying. From the perspective of Jesus it is clear, but their eyes are not open yet. They do not get the importance of his words. They do not know this is his last lesson. I think we don’t give the disciplines much credit here, but from the beginning of their time with him in the upper room he is talking in riddles. He starts by washing their feet. I kind of agree with Peter on this one, I think I would hesitate to let Jesus kneel before me and wash my feet. Ever the servant, he is giving us a picture of the kind of love that he embodies, moving with compassion to clean the dirt that clings to us. Even now, he offers and so many times, I refuse to be humbled by such an action. I would rather walk around dirty than to allow him to wash me, crazy as that sounds. It is my stubborn pride, which holds me back from receiving all that he has for me. Yet he loves me still. I so relate to Peter here, but I also see the ever patient Jesus loving him despite his boldness, despite his stubbornness, despite his constant pushing. I hold on to the fact that Peter was created that way. Jesus saw and loved the diamond in the rough…as he does with us all.
After the foot washing, Jesus talks in circles. At least that is what it must have seemed to the disciples. He is saying all that is to come, and they totally miss it. How frustrating it must have been for Him to hear. As if to little children he says, “How can you not get it? You have been with me for years?” I know that feeling. I teach students who are not always able to comprehend, even when I have taught an idea multiple ways over a long period of time. There are days when I have to walk away to gain perspective before going back one more time to try again. Yet, Jesus knows they will not get it and even though you can sense his frustration, he plows ahead, giving them more instruction in one night than they have ever had at one time before. It is his hope that they will remember. He even says it, “I have said these things to you that when the hour comes you may remember.” Always the prophet. Speaking the future to those who cannot see.
My favorite section is John 15. This whole “I am the vine” section is about the secret of bearing fruit…abiding. Once again, the disciples do not get the point of the story. He is telling them they must abide in him. In their minds, they have been abiding with him for years. To even suppose that he would be apart from them isn’t on their radar. They are still trying to figure out what he is talking about and where he is going. He is giving them all that they will need to hold onto in the days ahead and they do not have eyes to see. I sometimes wonder how they ever remembered it all later. I picture them huddled together saying, “Didn’t he say something about this? What was it again? Something about grapes?” Then the words start to come and Peter says to John, “You better write this down so we can remember it.” The Holy Spirit steps in here, just as Jesus said, “When the Spirit of Truth comes he will guide you into all the truth, for whatever he hears he will speak. He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” And so the words of Jesus are declared and written, despite the fact that the disciples were, on this night, clueless.
How deep must Jesus have felt this burden for these guys. He was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, which included them…and us. To leave the ones he had invested in when they appeared so unready must’ve been so difficult. I wonder sometimes if he still feels that way about believers, both those within the church and those outside it. We still do not fully get what he was saying. We no more abide in him than the weeds in the vineyard. We go our own way, do our own thing. We do not live in his love, towards ourselves, or each other. We do not wash each other’s feet. We don’t even know where the bowl is. All the while, the world around us is watching, mocking, and pointing out our flaws…because we act as if we do not have any. The reality is that Jesus’s prayer in John 17 has not yet been answered. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you love me.” He is waiting for the day, just as we are.
The beauty of the Easter season it that it reminds us he hasn’t given up. He didn’t die for nothing. In the midst of fickle humans who blow like the wind depending on the latest events, he set his course. He did not alter it…not once. He saw the future, which included me and you, and he followed through to the end because he loved us so. That is something to celebrate, despite our weaknesses. Despite the fact that we do not always “get” it. Despite the fact that unity in the body seems forever away, and his bride is not yet without spot or wrinkle. His words, as always, bring hope… “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Full joy is not circumstantial…it was calculated 2000 years ago when he rose to share it with us all.

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