This has to be the most emotionally dramatically intense day of the entire church year. Joyful exuberance in a parade not fitting for a beauty queen but for the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, for the Messiah who came to save all the impoverished desperation-filled people lining the streets that day in Jerusalem. Come to think of it this wasn’t a parade to them at all. It was their victory march for life. Joy can’t even begin to describe it!
But then it all turns unbelievably quickly. Evidently this King of Kings, this Lord of Lords, was not immune from falling as a victim to greed and corruption. This Messiah, this Savior of the world, goes from having this uncontrollable mass of die-hard supporters to His own close friends betraying His life and denying even knowing Him. This Almighty Son of God with divine powers to heal and instill new life for all humanity was matched by those who lusted for such powers to manipulate human life to the tune of nails being hammered into His body, into His body broken for us. In an instant the story goes from exhilarating delight to down-right awful sorrow.
And yet the emotional roller coaster ride has not even come close to its biggest drop for the human heart. Oddly enough it comes when this God-in-flesh with powers beyond comprehension delivers the most humbling blow of all. After nails pierced, spits launched, mocking shouts unleashed, death invading upon Him, this Jesus Christ, Son of God, with an arsenal to pulverize, and an army of angels to conquer the universe, has the most divine comeback to bring us to our knees. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
There’s plenty of hatred running rampant in this country, and throughout the world for that matter. It’s not going away anytime soon, not in the next eight months come November or any time after that. It has become the natural response for us human beings, more common than love and compassion that was the default for the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. So I am all the more convinced this year as I ever have been, that when our Messiah cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing;” that wasn’t just for the Roman soldiers or Caiaphas and his men, but those words were meant as much for us as anybody else then and for the rest of time.
We still have absolutely no idea what we are doing to each other and what we’re still doing to the same Jesus Who died for us, with words deeper than nails can ever penetrate. The cry fills Heaven, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” So this week we, yet again, cling to the only hope we have from ourselves, to this God who arrives on the human scene not with hate or anger, but with a undeniably relentless love beyond anything we could ever imagine. Most definitely, thanks be to God for what’s about to happen next, the pivot point in the history of the world that we desperately need to hear again! To be continued. Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon