Devotional for April 1, 2011 – Palm/Passion Sunday


Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background

This Sunday we will go through a whirlwind of emotions.  We travel with Jesus from a triumphant entry intoJerusalemthat marks the beginning of a new era of God and end with the death of the one we thought would bring that revolution.  Our week is full of deep emotion running from elation to disappointment, from betrayal to sadness, and finally death.  The people in this story do not expect what is about to happen.  The story ranges from a supreme hope for transformation to shock and horror about what is to happen.

Those who would have been hearing the story would have experienced everything as if it were news unlike those of us who have grown up with this story.   Try to step back for a moment and put on new eyes for what you will read in Mark.

This range of emotion gives us a broad scale of where God resides.  God comes in on a donkey and connects with the poorest of poor.  God knows what it is to sit around the table with friends for the very last time.  God knows betrayal and pain, sadness and despair, and finally God knows death.

We know that this isn’t the end of the story and this is why we mourn throughout this week. In order to get to the other side we have to experience elation to death.  We have to be able to bury what might have been for what could be to arrive.   What if you were part of this story?

Quotes for the Week

“But Palm Sunday tells us that […] it is the cross that is the true tree of life.” Pope Benedict XVI

“Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.” Thomas Carlyle

“A friend who dies, it’s something of you who dies.”  Gustave Flaubert

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” Susan Ertz

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” Mark Twain

“He (Jesus) changed sunset into sunrise.” Clemet of Alexandria
Mark 11: 1-11 (NRSV)

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples2and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it.8Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

 

11Then he enteredJerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out toBethany with the twelve.

Mark 15: 25-39 (NRSV)

25It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

 

Questions for the Week

Where are your emotions this week?

What in you needs to die in order to experience new life?

Where do you relate to this story?

 

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About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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