Palm Sunday starts out full of promise and hope as Jesus entered Jerusalem acclaimed the longed for Messiah:
“Hail, Son of David, our king and Redeemer of the world! The prophets foretold that you would come and save us.”
This promise seems a stark contrast to the passion gospel. It shows us human nature at its best and its worst. It’s full of failure and courage, despair and hope. In tense and uncertain times Jesus’ actions threaten a precarious status quo. That is always a dangerous thing to do, as the danger becomes more apparent and more threatening his disciples respond differently.
Judas tries to control the situation and force a response. Peter over promises, assuring Jesus he will never leave him, and then denies him. The other disciples numb themselves with sleep or run away when the danger becomes too much. Even Jesus, having deliberately chosen this path, has his moment of uncertainty as he prays:
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by.”
It’s tempting for us to assume that we would never behave in such ways. We would be the disciple who would stay loyally by Jesus’ side throughout the passion. This most challenging gospel calls us to greater honesty than that. It demands that we read it without judgement, and with compassion and honesty.
If it is to be transformative for us we have to be honest about our own failures, the times when we turn away or choose distraction over engagement, or when we give in to despair because hope seems impossible. Then, with those first flawed, brave disciples, we can call to Christ to “come and save us”.
As we begin our Holy Week where do you need to be aware of the Christ to comes to save you?