For Holy Week and Easter we take the readings out of order from St Luke’s Gospel to fit with the season.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.”’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’ As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’ Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; 46 and he said, ‘It is written, “My house shall be a house of prayer”; but you have made it a den of robbers.’ Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
Today, Palm Sunday, is the day we remember how everything began to unravel for Jesus. Up till now he had been clear, those who had been healed or witnessed miracles, should not tell anyone about them. Because, ‘His time had not yet come’. Not that everyone listened to him, when the leper was healed, he began to ‘talk freely, spreading the news’. As a result, Jesus could ‘no longer enter a town openly, but stayed outside in lonely places’. On Palm Sunday far from being in lonely places, Jesus had ‘Set his face towards the city of Jerusalem’. The crowds were buzzing, proclaiming ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’ But Jesus, the once reluctant hero, didn’t stop them, despite the Pharisee’s protestations, he declared, ‘I tell you if these were silent, the stones would shout out’. His time had now come and there was excitement, tears and anger. It was an emotional day and for him, there was no going back. On this Palm Sunday perhaps we should consider, have we gone public and shared what Jesus has done for us? Or have we been silent, leaving it to the stones to shout out?
Lord we celebrate Palm Sunday, when you rode into Jerusalem, heralded as King of Kings. We praise you. Help us to speak up for you, to go public and share your great love. Forgive us Lord for the times, when we, like the stones, have been silent. Help us today to acknowledge you in all we do and say. Amen
The Revd Sally Willett, minister of West Thamesmead Community Church and Evangelism and Renewal Advocate for the Group for Evangelism and Renewal in the URC (GEAR).