Scriptures for April 17th: Matthew 21:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26-14-27:66 Theme: Palm Sunday Song: Were you There UMH 288
Matthew: This is palm Sunday – the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, depending on how you look at it. Lent is over, but it is not finished. Now we enter into Holy Week. Now we start the walk with Jesus to the cross. Now we relive the story of Jesus passion, in going through the most painful part of his life in order to being us salvation. We start the story with Jesus gathering his disciples together to share a meal. He initiates our communion practice of sharing his body and blood. He also tells the disciples that one of them will betray him. The passion story is told in all of the gospels. But only Matthew takes to time to explain the relationship of Jesus and Judas. Only Matthew tells of the struggle that Judas had in making that decision. It tells of how that decision and the guilt of betrayal is what killed him.
Only Matthew records the conversation with the soldiers, with Pontius Pilate after Jesus is arrested. We contemplate Jesus response, we listen for the guilt of Pontius Pilate, why would he do this? Pontius Pilate is one of the few people who had an extended conversation with and is not converted. He goes on with his life, totally clueless as to whom he is speaking. He even asks Jesus, are you the king of the Jews? But doesn’t understand that Jesus is the king of us all! He will rise above this situation. Matthew is the only person to talk about what happens when Jesus dies. He records the earthquake, the tearing of the temple curtain. Surely this is the Son of God. Matthew knows the names of the women who came to bathe the body. And this is the only gospel which explains that the guards are at the tomb to keep the followers from stealing the body and just claim that he is resurrected. That is where the story for palm Sunday ends, in anticipation of what happens to the body, if the guards were trying to prevent this from happening. We can celebrate that all things are possible with God. All burdens are boundaries are transcended in order to bring transformation to the world!
Questions: What have you learned about Jesus this Lenten season? What have you learned about yourself? Your faith? What effect does the passion story have on you? How do you feel about Judas? What about the reactions of the other disciples to Jesus? Do you see yourself or your own actions in those of Judas? Have you ever betrayed Jesus in your actions? What would your life be like if there was no transcendence of death? How will your life change with the resurrection this year?