Martin Leckebusch’s rendition of Psalm 129 focuses on triumph, truth, and trouble. Today we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His Passion; triumph and trouble indeed. But what’s the truth?
For many, Jesus’ death is about His sacrifice in our place. On Him the sins of the world were laid and, by taking our place, Jesus suffered the punishment due to us. Many Biblical writers, and Christians since, held that our sins were such that death was the price that had to be paid. However, in great mercy, God – in Jesus – took our place and suffered for us. By Jesus’ wounds we are healed.
Others hold that on the Cross the Devil thought he’d won. Inciting the religious leaders to jealousy, Satan had ensured they tried Jesus and sent him to His death. Here evil reigns supreme and the loving kindness of God isn’t enough to defeat this injustice. And yet, the Devil was tricked and, by raising Jesus from the dead, God redeemed humanity from the grasp of the Devil and from death itself.
Others still, hold that the penalty for confronting the powers of the age was Jesus’ death. He’d unsettled the Establishment, called them whitewashed tombs, overturned their tables in the Temple and, by riding into Jerusalem at the start of Passover, fulfilled ancient prophecy that was tantamount to revolution. He had to die but, through his resurrection, God vindicated Jesus and the struggle for freedom from all forms of sin.
The events of Holy Week are a mystery to us; Christians have been reflecting on (and arguing about) their meanings since the earliest days of the Church. Like the Psalmist we can see the triumph and the troubles but take longer to reflect on the truth of it all. With the Psalmist we trust God will save us and we hope for kindness from on high but know, if we know anything at all, that the path to that loving kindness runs through Calvary.
Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world. Amen
The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister for Digital Worship and a member of the Peedie Kirk in Orkney