PalmB21. Isaiah 50:4-7. I have been given to understand that this excerpt from Isaiah is a selection from what are called the “Servant-of-the Lord” or Suffering Servant oracles. Their purpose was to call the Hebrews enslaved in Babylonia to maintain a firm resolve and confidence in the Lord despite the abuses that they were suffering. The Hebrews were living in a situation where they were subject to great humiliation and degradation. This reading is given to us this Palm Sunday when the Passion of Jesus is read to invite us see Jesus as the Suffering Servant of the Father, as one called by his Father to endure his suffering and humiliation with a deep resolve and faith because in the end the victory would belong to God.
Mark 14:1-15:47. This gospel reading is titled as the Passion of the Lord. The word ‘Passion’ here is to be understood as to what had been done to the Jesus by others. It is the noun that refers to the passive voice in grammar where the action is done by others to Jesus. He was viciously humiliated, tortured and killed and yet maintained his resolve to fulfill his Father‘s will for him. Jesus had surrendered himself to be the sacrifice that would redeem the human race from our sins: past, present and future. His self-sacrifice or submitting himself to the Passion satisfied the debt we had accumulated and will accumulate by our sins. 1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” The Old Testament Law required a continuous line of sacrificing animals or offering up cereal offerings. With Jesus’ Passion all that was done away with once and for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)
Love means many things in this world; however, for the followers of Christ, the crucifix is our definition of love. Jesus went to Gethsemane with Peter, James and John. He “began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death.’” Realizing the horror he was about to undergo, he was so extremely distraught that he thought he was going to die then. Jesus “prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, ’Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.’” The savagery of Jesus’ passion was real but so was his love for his Father and what his Father wanted of him. The whole purpose of divinity taking on human presence in this world was to accomplish our redemption because of God’s love for us. True love demands doing whatever it takes to be loving. The old saying is that freedom isn’t free. True love, more often than not, demands sacrifice, giving up what we want for ourselves so that others might have what they need. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Philippians 2:6-11. Jesus humbled himself by rejecting any heavenly exemption from deprivation or suffering, “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The love for us given to Jesus in his humanity by his divine Father enabled him to endure the horrific humiliation on his way to the cross and the cross itself. “Because of this, God greatly exalted him” and so we adore him and worship him confessing “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”