Devotional for March 24, 2013 – Palm/Passion Sunday


Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background

This week is full of drama, emotion, thrill and intrigue.  Most of us would love to just go from Palms to Easter morning.  Celebration to celebration.  But when we do this we miss what gets us to new life.

It all begins with a grand revolution. Jesus is coming back into Jerusalem and the people think that things will be overturned.  In fact, the people are so sure of this new state of things that they throw down their cloaks (in Luke it is coats rather than Palms) and they cry out to their new king.  It is so loud that the Pharisees ask Jesus to quiet them.  Jesus responds that even the stones would cry out for this new revolution to begin.  The politics are shifting and changing.  This is a big commentary to the higher ups and will ultimately cause Jesus’ death.

What unfolds is a story worthy of great drama.  Might this even be one of the first reality TV shows?  Jesus shares a meal with his friends and then one of his best friends betrays him. Not only that but betrays with a kiss! A sign of love!  Serious reality drama!  Betrayal is followed with denial and deep mourning.  Would we also deny this revolutionary? Hard to know what we would have done.

This week also brings death and loss of hope for a time.  Jesus is sent all over the place to be tried.  Interesting characters find their way into Luke’s story – Simon of Cyrene, the daughters of Jerusalem, Pilate and Herod – all to play a part of this drama along the way.  They all represent the range of emotions packed into this one week.

This week ends in death after much suffering.  While this isn’t the end of the story, we must realize that it is all part of the story before new life.  The range of emotions shows us the humanness of the situation and if we gloss over to resurrection we lose what this story could mean to us.  So good luck this week!  Be gentle with yourself as you experience all emotions today and throughout.  And know that the end is only the beginning here.

Quotes for the Week

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” ― Dorothy Day

“To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.” ― Malcolm X

“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” ― Anne Lamott

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” ― Woody Allen

Luke 19:28-40 (NRSV

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen,38saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Luke 23: 44-49 (NRSV)                                                                                                                                                It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Questions for the Week

Are you in a hurry to get to Easter? Why?

What do you learn by rereading the story again?

Do you relate to a piece of the story? What moves you?


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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