Thought for the Week

Palm Sunday 5th April 2020

This week’s readings: Matthew 21:1-11 (Liturgy of the Palms); Philippians 2:5-11Matthew 26:14-27:66 (Liturgy of the Passion)

What a difference a week makes. At the beginning of the week, Jesus was welcomed and celebrated by crowds of people in Jerusalem. By the end of the week, the same crowd was baying for his blood.

What happened? The people were so pleased to see the great prophet, Jesus, as he came into Jerusalem. But the first thing that, according to Matthew, Jesus did was to go into the temple and overturn the tables of those who were buying and selling. And then he started healing people – in the temple. Later in the week the chief priests and Pharisees challenged him, asking by what authority he was teaching in the temple. Jesus answered them in parables.

When the Jewish leaders realised that Jesus was speaking against them in his parables, they wanted to arrest him. They thought that if he carried on as he was, they would lose control over the Jewish people, would be blamed by the Roman authorities for any trouble that ensued, and have such power as they had taken away from them. However, they were deterred from arresting Jesus because of the very thought of stirring up trouble with the crowds who, at this point, were on Jesus’ side.

Finally, the leaders got their chance when Judas offered to betray Jesus. This would be at night, away from the crowds, in a deserted garden. And so it was.

Later, Pilate engaged with the crowd to see if he could release Jesus, but the chief priests and elders stirred up the crowd, to demand that Barabbas be released and Jesus crucified. And so he was. All seemed lost when he was laid in the tomb. But, looking ahead, we believe that God turned it around, and Jesus rose to new life, enabling all of us to share in that life. (More next week …)

What a difference the last two weeks have made to us. We’re going through difficult times but all is not lost. There will be an end to this crisis. As we give thanks for the dedication of health care workers, and the love and support of neighbours and friends, let us look ahead with faith and hope to better times to come.

Sue Burchell