Sermon of the Week
The Wrong Answer: Money on the Wrong Horse
Keywords: Palm Sunday, Theodicy, Suffering, God With Us,
Welcome to Holy Week.
Every year we prepare for Easter
with a retelling of Jesus’ entering Jerusalem,
that great city.
The details differ in the various gospels,
and if you’re familiar with Palm Sunday
and have heard the stories before,
you may have noticed that Luke’s take on Jesus’ triumphant entry
is somewhat stripped of things that we might otherwise expect:
Here, there is no donkey. Luke says there’s a colt, which is a young horse.
There’s no crowd shouting Hosanna!
There aren’t even any palms, at least not in Luke’s account;
you have to go to the Gospel of John for those.
Things are a bit different for Luke.
There comes Jesus, entering the city on what should be a wild horse
one that has never been ridden before,
but somehow, Jesus is measured, and in control.
The observers lay down their cloaks on the road.
That’s a sign of respect, adoration,
reserved for the King or his agent.
The undertones are obvious to everyone.
People start singing, drawing from the Psalm we just read
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord…
But Luke seems to be offering a somewhat muted description
of Jesus’ long awaited entry into the holy city,
perhaps so as to not overshadow the events of the week to come.
No shouts calling for salvation.
No pesky branches all over the road
for the sanitation workers to haul away.
Luke knows that the events of the coming week
are important for us to attend to,
so better, maybe, not to put too much into this parade.
This will be a week of incredible SUFFERING for Jesus:
then the betrayal by his disciples,
then trial and beating,
and finally… the cross.
A week of incredible SUFFERING.
It may not be a bad idea, then,
when we gaze upon what is going to happen to Jesus this week
for us to ask ourselves what that means for our own suffering….
Suffering is a particularly painful subject for believers and nonbelievers alike.
But the issues are different for the nonbeliever.
For instance, to whom is the unbeliever’s question:
“Why did this happen to me?” addressed?
If you don’t believe in a God who creates, sustains, orders, and heals,
then why on earth would you even ask?
To whom would you ask, “Why?”
It’s painful to ask that question to an empty universe,
and to hear no answer, no EASTER, in response.
But for believers—whether yer rock solid most days
or, like the rest of us, you have your ups and your downs
for those who affirm that God is something real in our lives…
Suffering is a somewhat different matter, all together.
In our times of inevitable suffering,
in the parade of pain that is the evening news,
or at the clinic
or sitting next to our broken friend
believers sometimes, maybe often, ask:
“Why, God, did this happen?
Not just WHY. But: “Why, God?” [Read more…]