|Morgner, Wilhelm, 1891-1917. Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.|
One of the teaching methods in Incarnational Theology is to watch a truncated version of the Gospel of John. The biblical words provide the script, and the vivid images of familiar scenes such as the wedding at Cana, the healing of the man born blind, and the encounter with the adulterous woman who was drug before Jesus, transcend language barriers.
The portrayal of the “triumphant entry” in the film is almost comical. Jesus is tall; the donkey is short. Jesus’ legs almost drag the ground, and clearly there are detractors among those who provide a more jubilant welcome. In the fourth Gospel, this procession is placed at the midpoint of the book, and it comes directly after the raising of Lazarus. It was because of this sign that the Passover crowds thronged to see him.
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:13)
This prophetic act brings to boil the simmering conflict with Pharisees and temple authorities. They said to one another: “You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him” (12:19). Jesus well knows that he has limited time to complete the work God has given him to do.
The readings for this coming Sunday carry two titles: the Liturgy of the Palms and the Liturgy of the Passion, and they narrate the whiplash of emotions as Jesus enters Jerusalem to acclaim, only to be arrested and executed before the week is out. John’s version of these climactic events depicts a fully self-aware Jesus who discerns that it is his “hour.”
|Entry into Jerusalem, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.|
In this final days of Lent, we seek to follow Jesus ever more attentively, and we marvel at his courage. He will not be dissuaded from confronting the powers that oppose him, and he beckons his disciples to be stalwart. They are not, at first, but ultimately recognize him as the One through whom they meet God. Their story is our story, too, and we trust that Jesus prays for us, just as he did for them. Our faithfulness requires his support.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.