Prior to the birth of Jesus, the Jews had been subject to Babylon, Assyria, Persia, the Greeks and finally Rome. The Romans provided a measure of stability for the Jews but it was costly. The Jews paid high taxes and had restricted freedom. For centuries they were a dominated people. But they were a people who believed that they were special in the eyes of the Creator of all things and that they eventually would be free to worship God in the place and in the way God had directed (that is, by the way, God’s definition of freedom). Thus, they diligently sought the Deliverer promised through the prophets. So, it is easy to see why Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem very quickly became a very big event. The Jews in Jerusalem thought that their Deliverer had finally come.

But there were a number of problems with the way things were unfolding. Jesus didn’t appear to be the power player who would defeat the Romans and free the Jews. He was humble. He looked like a slave not a conqueror. He didn’t behave as they expected. They lost hope and confidence in Jesus. With that, they decided that Jesus could not be the great Deliverer after all.

The chief priests and elders would later mock him saying, ‘That is the Savior? He can’t even save himself!’ They got it all wrong. They had their own ideas of what this Savior should be. But we’re hardly in a position to criticize. Human nature being what it is, we often get things wrong ourselves.

What they missed is that Jesus had a debt to pay. That debt was so tremendous that only Jesus, the Son of God, could pay it. That debt was unlike any other was, is or ever could be. Three times Jesus asks God for another way to pay it. God the father maintains that justice must be preserved. The debt of sin must be paid or all humanity will go to hell. Jesus’ response echoes that of His Virgin Mother’s- May it be done unto me according to Thy word. And with resolve, Jesus moves ahead to be taken by His adversaries.

I paused when I reread what Jesus said to Judas when Judas gave the signal for Jesus to be apprehended. Judas greeted Jesus with, ‘Hail Rabi!’ and gave Jesus a kiss. In return Jesus calls Judas, ‘Friend.’ In fact, Jesus never curses even one of those who wanted Him crucified. Despite all the evil directed at Jesus, He still saw only friends.

And so it is with us. No matter what we have done or may do, Jesus sees us as a friend. When we sin we need to ask forgiveness and allow our Deliverer to heal us.

 

Dcn Greg