They Wanted the Kingdom Without the Cross

Posted on Apr 03, 2023 by Mark Muehl - Lutheran Spirit - Christian Living

With yesterday’s celebration of Palm Sunday, we enter into the holiest of weeks. It's a week when we often talk about walking the steps of Christ to the cross, remembering his passion, remembering his death.

Walk in his steps?

The reality?

We align better with the disciples during Holy Week. We scatter and hide, unable to be a witness. We scatter because this following Jesus stuff is filled with sacrifice not riches. Like the disciples, we find ourselves so tired, so burdened with our own lives that we miss the Life that is right in front of us (in His word, in His Sacrament, in the certainty of Heaven).

Maybe we connect even better with the Palm Sunday crowd? Palm branches waving looking for peace and victory. Looking for the world to change. No authoritarian oppression. No more looking over our shoulders to see if we will be judged for being a follower. The peace sought is peace on earth, a worldly peace, a peace without wars and fighting, a peace that gives a quiet life.

Victory? Yes, we want victory too. We love to win, we side with winners, we cheer on our winners. Those "Hosannas" of Palm Sunday includes anticipation of the winner's life.

Losers? We don't want to admit we lose or even become acquainted with loss. Loss of anything... including self and our life... no way. Bring it on Jesus. We want all the good stuff... now.

Passion Week, however, is the strong reminder that the kingdom doesn't come without the cross. In fact, the kingdom only comes through the cross. Jesus gives us the kingdom only through His cross. We see God's kingdom through the One who has lived life for us.

Instead of embracing his fame, Jesus humbly came into Jerusalem on a donkey. No special steed, no special clothes, no famous entourage. Just Old Testament songs, palm branches and throngs of people to welcome this King.

Though there were times in His life that he seemed cornered into certain death and walked away, in this appointed time he humbly took on all shame, pain and death by crucifixion. In a gory, messy, turn-your-head death that seemed like the end of a potential reign, Jesus died. He died for you; He died for me. Our sins. Our selfishness; our pride; our desire for glory. Our sins sent Him to the cross.

This week, we have this awkward tension of being on spring break but also knowing and needing to pour into Holy Week. Wherever you are, read the passion history in the Gospels. Get to church - on Maundy Thursday, on Good Friday, on Easter. This is the focus of Christian life - Christ’s death and resurrection.

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Peace and joy to you!