by Maria Rudolph
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But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ (Luke 23:21).
Today is Palm Sunday, and if you went to church this morning, you watched the crowd lay down coats and palm branches in front of Jesus, who triumphantly entered Jerusalem. You heard them shout ‘Hosanna (meaning “God, help us”)! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (John 12:13). In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 23, verses 18, 21 and 23, we witness three times that the crowd is now chanting another chorus: ‘Away with this man! Crucify him!’ It even says that they shouted with one voice (23:18), and their shouts prevailed (23:23). How quickly the hearts of people can change. What we feel so passionate about one day can change into quite the opposite the next.
That is why it is not good to heed the words of the novella The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly’. In fact, if we followed ‘our hearts’ as many contemporary books, films and opinions teach us, it would be a potluck whether we get it right or make a disaster of any given situation. God teaches us that we must look to Jesus Christ for everything. For absolutely everything. So we don’t see things with our own heart, but with the heart of God, revealed to us through Scripture. The prophet Isaiah tells us (Isaiah 55:8,9) that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and God’s thoughts higher than our thoughts. By walking to the cross and allowing the gruesome crucifixion to take place, Jesus knew that the very people who condemned him to death needed the forgiveness he was about to win for them. ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).
God was willing to take responsibility for us in Christ, even when people stirred up by priests and Scripture teachers themselves were unwilling to take responsibility for Christ. When we are unwilling to take responsibility for Christ in our own lives, he still died for us in our unworthiness and took responsibility for us anyway. You are called by Christ to take responsibility for your faith, for the actions that come from your faith. You are called to take responsibility for the mission of the church and be an ambassador of the gospel by how you have been gifted, equipped and called by the Living God. Yet even when you and I fail in this responsibility due to our weak human nature, Christ still takes full responsibility for us. Even when sometimes the priests and Scripture teachers of our time lead a chorus of condemnation of the call in and for Christ, Christ takes responsibility for us all, walks to the cross, lays down his life, and unites us all in himself. Thanks be to God. Hosanna, God help us. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Where do you think you fail in taking responsibility for Christ?
Loving Jesus, you have walked to the cross and taken full responsibility for me and all my sins and shortcomings. I am overwhelmed and grateful and have nothing to offer you in return except my whole life, my being, myself. Take me and use me. Embolden me to take responsibility for you, and comfort me with your peace when I fail to do this once again. I give you my all today. Amen.