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Lent reflections (6)

March 17th, 2008 by isaac · No Comments

This is the last of the unedited Lenten reflections I wrote of the Mennonite publication, Leader Magazine. Here are the other ones: Lent 1, Lent 2, Lent 3, Lent 4, Lent 5.

Lent 6: Matthew 21:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Philippians 2:5-11.

Jesus has traveled throughout Palestine proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, and it seems the entire people of Israel have come out to rejoice in their new King—another “Son of David” that will save the people from the foreign dominion of Roman occupation. They spread their coats and lay down palm branches as they welcome Jesus into Jerusalem where he will take his rightful place on the throne of his ancestor David. “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matt. 21:9).

But what they do not yet realize is that this Jesus is not the savior they hoped for. This Messiah, this Son of David, will ultimately shatter their hopes and dreams as he is lifted up onto a very different throne: not the glories of Jerusalem’s palaces; instead, Jesus will take his place outside the city, at the place of death, Golgotha, on a cross between two other convicted subversives. The revolutionary hope of the masses of Israel is crushed as Jesus’ body is crushed under the heel of the religious and political powers. And the people are left bewildered at the cross, maybe remembering the promises of the Psalmist: “Let Israel say, ‘His steadfast love endures forever!” (Ps.118:1-2). But how can God’s love that sustains Israel look like that disfigured Messiah on the cross?

The Psalmist continues, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (v22). How can this be? The apostle Paul helps us unravel the mysteries of the cross: “Although he was in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Our hope is strange; it looks like a cross. But as we walk into the depths of that blood-stained cross, we can begin to see glimpses of a radical hope, a hope too mysterious for words, the hope of Christ’s resurrection.

Tags: theology