Will We Remember?
Sermon by the Rev. Lisa Smith Fry
Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018
What does it feel like to know that something is coming—something that will be terribly difficult—and there’s nothing you can do can stop it?
Think about that.
How many of us can really say we’ve experienced this?
Jesus had a pretty good idea of what was coming. Now some say that he knew exactly what was going to happen. That he was clairvoyant. Or—he knew because he was God. But Jesus was also fully human. Most humans don’t know the future. Most humans don’t have the all-seeing nature of God.
If God deliberately took on our flesh to live as one of us, he wanted to experience our HUMAN nature. He probably didn’t know exactly what would happen either.
Here’s what he did know:
He knew there was a lot of tension in Jerusalem, especially during the high holy days—this was the Feast of Passover. Many many Jews were in Jerusalem.
He knew- at the best of times- Jews and Romans were not a good mix.
He knew he had been really pushing the Jewish religious leaders with his message, his teaching, and his actions.
He knew the Jewish religious leaders were searching for him to arrest him.
He knew there was a very good possibility that things were not going to end well.
And because of these things, he knew some sort of ultimate sacrifice was going to have to be made by him. But that was still hours away.
Listen to how this reading starts. A woman will make a gesture of great love on his behalf. She’s not a woman of “ill repute” or named Mary in this gospel. Some don’t like her gesture, and there is grumbling. Notice that in this earliest Gospel it doesn’t say exactly who doesn’t like it— it doesn’t say the grumbling was done by the disciples — as in Matthew and Luke, or by Judas– as in John. The writer of Mark’s gospel merely says that there was grumbling about her gesture of love. Where are we in this scene? The extravagant woman? The grumblers?
Then–notice Jesus’ quote about the poor–“the poor will always be with us” –but really pay attention to the whole quote. This is the only version in which it appears. Why do think the later gospel writers left part of the quote out?
Jesus knows it is tense in the city. He has found them all a place they can celebrate the Passover, but they will have to get to it by passwords and counter passwords. They eat their last supper together. The disciples probably don’t know that—though some are probably getting very worried.. but Jesus knows. Imagine that. Saying goodbye to beloved friends.
Jesus’ ministry wasn’t about building a legacy—like the huge temple Solomon built—or something you could visit, like a shrine. His legacy was his disciples. Perhaps he was wondering: “Have I taught them enough? Will they remember? Will they remember to love when the temptation to fear and hate will be strong? Will what I’ve showed them and taught them be enough?”
And it almost wasn’t. All 12 deserted him to die alone. And Jesus felt it. Hear his cry, “Why have you forsaken me? Even you, God?”
This is his story. This is our story. This is the story of the one who said to his disciples, “Do what I have done. Love is more important than hate, love is more important than war, love is more important than enemies, love is more important than your very life.”
And he sacrificed everything to teach us that.
Will we remember? Will we remember to love when the temptation to hate and fear will be strong? Will his teaching, life and ultimate sacrifice be enough to make us remember?
Let us listen to the earliest recorded written account of the final days of Jesus, the Anointed One. Let us put ourselves into the story.