Approximately 40% of the first three gospels focus on the final week of Jesus’ life. This percentage increases to more than 65% when you add the gospel of John, from which this morning’s text is drawn.
Have you ever read a biography? It is clear the gospels are not simple biographies of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. If they were we would expect a more balanced account of the various times of his life; but this is not what we find in any of them.
A vastly disproportionate emphasis is given to the last week of Jesus’ life, as if to say to us, ‘Whatever else you may miss, please, don’t miss this.’ (“Looking at the Cross” Miller and McKim). This is one reason we remember the final acts of Jesus’ life during Holy Week, like the Maundy Thursday Foot washing service in which some of you participated.
It’s Palm Sunday, and on Palm Sunday Jesus was a huge hit with the crowds. Compare his popularity on that day with that of other prominent leaders, and Jesus wins hands down.
On the original Palm Sunday there was no doubt about where Jesus was “trending” (a contemporary term for growing social media popularity), at least among his followers. Coming up to Jerusalem from Jericho, Jesus and his disciples would have likely fallen in with hundreds of other pilgrims, increasing the population of the Holy City from about 40,000 to more than 200,000 for the celebration of Passover. It is significant and critical to remember that Passover was a time of celebration, but it was also a time of high tension in Jerusalem.
It is more wonderful than usual to see each other’s face in worship this morning. Last Wednesday afternoon, as the sunshine warmed my heart and shoulders, I remarked that winter might be ending without another major storm. The January 4th Nor-Easter had been tough and frightening, but it was behind us all now, and it was a relief to think we might be past anything close to it.
When I first heard the news of another approaching storm again last week I thought little of it. I have learned that winter storms are common here this time of the year, and what could top the January storm?
I begin this morning’s message with a reflection from the Upper Room daily devotional. It is the reading for February 23, 2018. The title is, “Uncomfortable with Grace”: God called Abram into a relationship that took Abram from his home and kindred. Abram left Ur not knowing where following God would take him. (or his family).
Do any of you like Roquefort cheese? Do you know that not just any sheep-milk blue cheese can be legally labeled Roquefort. To qualify for that name, the cheese must be made entirely from the milk of the Lacaune breed of sheep and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron region of France, where it is colonized by the fungus Penicillium roqueforti that grows in these caves.
Did any of you watch SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket launch last Tuesday? In a world of bad news this was literally a bright spot! The successful Falcon launch made history as the world's most powerful rocket since Saturn 5. Containing 27 engines, the rocket has a thrust able to generate more than 5 million pounds, something like the equivalent of 18 Boeing 747 aircraft taking off together!
Last week one of the newscasts I often watch opened the program remarking that there was so much “Breaking News” that particular day it was difficult to keep up with all of it.
The rest of the program was an attempt to do just that; and as I listened to first one political crisis, natural disaster, or human tragedy follow another my mind shifted and I began to think of all the changes and adjustments every one of us is forced to make to on a daily basis depending upon the information coming into our lives.
It's a scenario straight out of a drama movie. You have been kidnapped and blindfolded. After some jostling and being moved from place to place, you finally rip off the blindfold and discover that you have been locked in a room with 10 other people. No, wait, there's an 11th "person" -- a zombie chained to the wall.
A voice over an intercom tells you that there is a key hidden in the room that will enable you to escape to freedom, but to find the key you must work with other people in the room to solve puzzles and put together clues to its whereabouts.