RCL A Palm Sunday
Saint Matthew 21:1-11, Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Philippians 2:5-11, Saint Matthew 27:11-54

You cannot participate in what we have just done together without facing the problem of points of view. The points of view are so wide-ranging that they cannot all be right. And we are under the obligation to make up our minds about them.

There’s Pilate’s point of view. He asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews, the principal accusation of the chief priests and elders. He asks Jesus their principal accusation, but he doesn’t believe it. He’s a political animal, weighing sensitively what the chief priests and elders want, what the crowd wants, and what he thinks he can do and get away with without anyone turning on him. The truth doesn’t matter to him. His concern is to practice the tricky art of the possible.

Then there are the chief priests and the elders who are jealous of Jesus’ popularity and aware that Jesus is bad for their religion-business, as Pilate perceptively understands. The truth doesn’t matter to them either. Their self-interest is what matters.

And then there’s the crowd, the mob, who want their own baser feelings and instincts to be salved. They want blood; crowds always want blood; and they want Jesus’ blood, for the chief priests and the elders have persuaded them so.

And so the decision is made, and that decision is a hot bucket of steaming garbage. An innocent man is condemned to die, condemned to the ignominious death of crucifixion to die alongside two bandits.

And then, the final point of view, coming not from a principal character, not from someone dignified with a name, not from someone who carries lots of weight. It comes from the centurion, who gives the final word, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”[1]

We cannot witness the raw and unjust force of power and keep our integrity without abominating the process and the result. A good man, God’s only Son, toyed with, unjustly sentenced and improperly killed only to be recognized by the few.

And we are the few though we called for his crucifixion just now. We recognize that we bear some of the responsibility. We are baptized into his death as well as into his resurrection. God has seen to it that the preference for something other than the truth can only last for a short time. In the end the wood of the cross itself becomes the rough doorway for the perfect will of God. The viewpoints are intense and wrong, but they lead to God’s perfect will. The ugliness leads to the beauty of God’s perfect will. The will of the flesh, the will of the crowd and the self-interested, only lead to the redemption of all who put their trust in him, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Once again we can put our lives in his hands. We can take his life for our own. We can be the people we were created to be.

[1] Saint Matthew 27:54.

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