An Earth Shattering Encounter With Jesus
When I was preparing yesterday's Palm Sunday sermon, I uncovered something in my study of Matthew 21:1-11 that was incredibly interesting, and I wanted to find a way to fit it into my sermon.
But I realized pretty quickly that adding it in would mean several minutes of teaching that really didn't support my main point. As much as I wouldn't mind preaching for forty five minutes, I decided against it. After all, a wise person once said, "The mind can only absorb what the posterior can endure."
The passage of Scripture from yesterday's reading that struck me was this one from Matthew 21:10 that went something like this: "When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, 'Who is this?'"
The key word there is "stirred," which is also translated as "the whole trembled shuddered" or "trembled." The Greek word is seio, which is the root word for words like seismic or seismology.
So, in other words, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, it was as if the entire city experienced an earthquake. I included all of that in my sermon yesterday, but here's the extra bit:
That same word was used in Matthew's Gospel to describe what happens when Jesus dies in Matthew chapter 27. I've underlined the word that stands in place of seio:
50 Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. 51 Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks were split apart.
The reason why this was so interesting to me was the way the Gospel writer chose to connect the seismic shift that went through Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the actual earthquake when Jesus died. This was not a coincidence.
What does this mean? Quite simply, it means that what happened on Holy Week two thousand years ago, was earth-shattering. It shook the very foundations of not only Creation itself, but also the foundations of the lives of all who encountered Jesus--whether they believed in him or not.
You and I still have these earth-shattering encounters with Christ. When Jesus "shows up" in our lives, his arrival can shake our foundations, turn us upside down and break apart all of our old ways of thinking, doing and being.
We need this kind of movement in our foundations. We need to be shaken from time to time and be confronted with the radical path to which Jesus calls us to journey with him.
May you experience the earth-shattering presence of Christ in your life as you journey with him through Holy Week. May you discover new strength and courage to persevere as you follow Him toward the Cross.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.