Palm Sunday is already a distant memory as we roll on toward Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, right? Seems like it usually is easily forgotten for another year. Yesterday, we celebrated how the people called out their praise, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Yes! The King of Israel!” (Msg, Jn 12:12-15) But by Friday, the same people will be chanting his name, and this time, it’ll be for completely different reasons.
It’s incredible to consider the way the mob mentality works. Jesus is The Messiah, not just because of how we read the Easter story but that’s what these people actually think one Sunday when they spread out their cloaks for him to ride over. There were probably people who weren’t sure about all of this who moved along with the praise. And then on Friday, with a few well-placed whispers by the religious leaders and a couple of disappointed souls who were upset Jesus didn’t prove to be the armed Messiah to save them from Rome, these same people chose Jesus to be executed over a terrorist.
It’s insanity, isn’t it?
Actually, we do it to Jesus all the time. We miss the point of what it means to be church, and we crucify the new, the reforming, the prophetic, the Christlike all the time. We do it when we show up for church and spend the rest of the week complaining about everything we don’t like about church to our unchurched friends. We do it when we give lip service to the love of God and then walk out judging gays, the tattooed, the ‘other’ denomination, the ‘those people.’
But it’s not just what we do outside of the church. Just a few weeks ago, I walked out of a Bible study where we’d discussed this very thing and into a buzz saw of epic mob mentality, a list of complaints about what everyone else wasn’t doing right in church. One minute, I’m the theological leader of the church and the next, I’m the idiot that can make everyone do what everyone at church should be doing. (Note, I don’t think I’m Jesus, but it didn’t even take me from Sunday to Friday!) You can’t have it both ways: your theological leader can’t also be your kicking can.
Here me out though: the Easter week doesn’t end on Thursday. Or Friday. Or Saturday. It ends and begins on Sunday. The day after the week ends. It begins with a new beginning, a new opportunity, to be resurrected and to be like Jesus. It means that our screw-ups throughout the week, our betrayals (seriously, check out Peter’s denial and reinstatement), our crucifixions of Christ, they don’t have the last word or the word after that.
No matter what the mob does, Jesus rises. And if we keep our eyes on Jesus, if we’re all in on what it means to love the Lord your God with your whole heart (and love your neighbor as yourself), we rise, too.