Irony: the word of the day. Jesus comes into the monstrous bustling city of Jerusalem in this victory parade, but in hindsight it might as well have been a funeral march. Shouts reign from the crowd fit for a king they actually approve, but he's riding on a donkey that puts Him on the same social status level as everybody else. And from that same crowd lining the streets are these hands grasping palm branches, raised high in the air praising and thanking God that finally there was indeed hope for the under-privileged masses. Finally, God had heard the prayers. Finally, the Messiah had arrived on the scene to save the world.
And yet, irony: those same hands that gripped onto beautiful palms turned into fists of fury in order to demonstrate their absolute insistence that that Messiah be crucified. How quick we humans can change. How little it takes to get under our skin. How instantaneously we switch sides to supposedly protect our own welfare and reputation. How much we're willing to throw wonderful children of God, even God's own Son, under the bus of horrible punishment, as long as it isn't us.
The debate rages on to this day: was it Pilate, the Jews, the higher ups of the Temple hierarchy that are responsible for Jesus' agonizing, torturous death? Nevertheless, irony: the humanity God sent the Son to save, ends up doing nothing to stop His death. Humanity did this. We did this.
Far too many hands could have pulled Roman soldiers away from pushing Him down as He carried the cross. Far too many hands could have tugged on their religious leaders to tell them to stop, and instead they joined in the chant of "Crucify!" with their arms raised to the sky, before Jesus' hands were nailed to a cross.
And yet, irony: out of death came life. Out of pure hatred and evil came even more mercy and love. Those very same clenched-in hands that did nothing to stop the brutal death, would soon enough be asked to open just enough to receive a piece of bread, and a drink of wine. Those very same hands that supported the punishment fit for a terrifying criminal would still end up receiving the body and blood of salvation.
Irony: that our hands that get so closed up out of frustration and anger against the world and even this very God of sacrifice beyond our imagination; God wants our very hands to take the bread and wine, the body and blood, and taste the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. We taste the humbling irony that humanity ended up not having the power over the King of Kings. We do not have the final say in judgment. The mercy of God will trump us every single time, in spite of us. And that story of mercy, grace, and new life is only just beginning this week. Thanks be to God for what happens next! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Dennis Smith, Interim Pastor
Office: Tue - Fri: 9 a.m. - Noon