April 1, 2012: Palm Sunday – Passion Sunday

Posted on : Mar 30th, 2012 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday we begin the holiest week in the Christian tradition.  That’s why it is called “Holy Week.”  This Sunday, Palm Sunday, marks “the beginning of the end” for Jesus as he faces the reality of his own death.  All during Lent we have looked at various people in the Passion Story (the story of the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus).  We began with Judas who betrayed Jesus, Simon of Cyrene who was conscripted to help carry Jesus’ cross, Peter who out of fear denied even knowing Jesus, and Pilate who tried to “wash his hands” of his involvement in condemning Jesus to death.  As we looked at these people from the past, we learned that what “drove” them still “drives” us today.

This Sunday we focus on “Caiaphas, the High Priest.”  His title, “High Priest” is a reminder that he was Israel’s highest ruling religious leader.  As the highest ranking priest of the faith, one would assume he knew the “rules” or “laws” of the faith, namely the Ten Commandments.  So why then does he “Break the Ninth Commandment?”  The Ninth commandment is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20: 16

Why is it that so many members of the religious right do the same?  We have seen this in the struggle for LGBT equal rights.  We’ve seen this in many religious leaders’ protests against equal marriage.  We even saw this anew this week as one of the Republican Presidential candidates said, “Health care is not a divine right.  Only God gives divine rights.”  Hello????  Has Mr. Santorum slept through the gospel and the homily for 2/3rds of the Christian year?  If you read the gospels, about 2/3rds of Jesus’ interactions with people involve Jesus healing them in one way or another.  He cares about everyone’s health, especially the poor and powerless of society!  How could someone who claims to be a faithful follower of Jesus say something so blatantly untruthful?  Talk about bearing false witness against Jesus and the whole Christian faith.  That’s just outrageous!  But that is what happens when one wishes to bolster their position by lying about someone else.

Bearing false witness almost seems to be “sport” today.  Saturday (Mar. 24) a guy in Pasadena called 911 and told the dispatcher that he was being robbed by two young men and that one of the robbers held a gun to his face.  The caller confirmed with the dispatcher that at least one of the robbers had a gun.  When the police arrived, one suspect purportedly reached for his waistband, which the police “read” as a sign that he was reaching for a gun, and the police shot and killed him.  He had no gun.  The caller lied.  He bore false witness which resulted in the death of yet another young African American man. According to an associated press release, in an interview Monday with detectives, the caller admitted that he made up the story about the gun to speed up the officers’ response.

Bearing false witness can have dire consequences.  It did for Jesus.  It does for us today.  Ironically, one would least expect such action from religious persons or heads of religious institutions, but that is often where it comes from.  Why?  Why do we engage in such behavior?  We’ll focus on that this Sunday.

Blessings to you as we prepare for and begin this Holiest of weeks,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Luke 19: 28-40

Luke recounts Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Hosanna! Hosanna!

Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of our God.

Hosanna in the highest!

Jesus went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Beth’phage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here.   If anyone asks you, `Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this, `The Savior has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them.  And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Savior has need of it.”

And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their garments on the colt, they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road.

As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying,

Hosanna!  Hosanna!

Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of our God.

Hosanna in the highest!

And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

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