A Choice to Follow Jesus or Execute Him
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. It's also a day when we'll be commemorating the arrival of Jesus in Jersualem on the Sunday of the week that he was executed.
As part of my sermon preparation this week, I've been thinking a lot about what it took for Jesus to make that trip.
He'd heard the threats by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, who were trying to figure out ways to get rid of him. Jesus threatened their power. His teachings held a mirror up to them and they didn't like what they saw. So they decided to kill him.
But he went anyway. He knew what he was facing, not only from his opponents but also from the crowds who were gathering there for Passover. His arrival would draw a line in the sand.
The great Henri Nouwen once wrote:
"Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here."
This Sunday I will once again tell the story of that moment when Jesus entered the Eastern Gate of the city of Jerusalem, when a hyped-up crowd waved palm fronds, shouted and sang--believing that a revolution was about to begin.
They would soon be disappointed to discover that the revolution they thought was going to happen, wasn't meant to be. The crowd wanted a revolution that would make the Hebrew people great again. They wanted to be first among nations. They wanted to cast off Roman oppression by any means necessary.
Instead, the revolution Jesus brought was one that required radical change within the hearts of people bent on power, might, acclamation and preeminence. The revolution Jesus brought was light, life and salvation for all people in all nations, everywhere.
Jesus still arrives in our lives offering us a choice. Will we follow him, or will be among those who crucify him---over, and over again. Will we embrace a salvation that is for all, or cling to our notions of restoration and rescue of only a privileged few?
Will we be Jesus' disciple or his executioner?
As you journey symbolically this week toward Jerusalem with Jesus, make a decision as to which choice you will make. May you choose to follow Jesus, whatever the cost. May you embrace a wider Gospel with a bigger story--the awesome story of God's great, saving grace for you, me and all of Creation.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.