Church of England Diocese of Exeter Meshaw

An homily for Palm Sunday

28 Mar 2021, 11 a.m.

Palm Sunday

Mark 11: 1-11

Palm Sunday in late March. Outside it is sunny with broken cloud, a temperature of 7<sup>0</sup>C with little or no wind. Not a bad day for early Spring. By comparison the weather in Jerusalem today is about the same with very poor air quality. A weather warning is in place for those who have difficulty breathing.

Today, as we remember that last entry into Jerusalem that Jesus made, we recall the joy of the crowds as they welcomed him. They cheered and paved the way for him with branches. Here was the person they had dreamed of as coming, the one who would free them from the Roman occupying powers. He would remove the Roman hierarchy and restore to them their own land.

What was going through the mind of Jesus at this time? He was making his way along the road with crowds of people on both sides, shouting. In the midst of the noise he may well pick up the odd word or phrase, “Hurray, our champion, go, sort them out”, and so on. Was he thinking just how far from the reality they all were.

Several of us may well have been in a similar situation where we are thinking, “If only they knew”. Deep down we have a secret. It is something that we wish to keep to ourselves. Perhaps we have arranged a surprise, or bought a gift without disclosing its true price. The world will not be changed by this information being withheld, no one will be advantaged or disadvantaged. On the other hand we may be party to some secret which would affect others if its true nature was revealed.

Jesus rode on the ass through the crowd. At this time he was being hailed as a champion. The people did not understand his real mission. Better for now to leave them to their own thoughts. The time will soon come when they will learn differently.

He knew what was in store for him. It was not going to be a civic reception as may be laid out for some great figure. Instead he was going towards his death. The Cross was at the end of this journey. A death full of pain and humiliation. The ass may have been getting tired and startled by the noise now. Maybe Jesus was having another battle. Not just the noise and clamour but an ass getting worried. He had to maintain control. All of these thoughts would have been running though his mind. If the weather was like today at least he did not have any rain to consider, and the possibility of slippery roads.

As this Holy Week begins I will try to look at Jesus in a greater depth. What was going through his mind, how was he feeling? I will try to visualise the events taking place around Jesus.

The ideals of the crowd were wrong and had to be corrected. The ass was a beast ridden upon by royalty, yet here was Jesus riding such an animal. It directed the mind of the crowd towards thinking that its burden was a person of note. They were looking for a king who would bring about change. This would have been known about by Jesus.

The whole series of circumstances was painting a picture full of misunderstandings. The people had been waiting for so long for a conqueror that now he was here they were going to let everyone know about it.

How easy it is to misunderstand. We look at the evidence set before us and make our decision. Thankfully, most of the time we are correct. But once in a while we get it wrong. We grasp the wrong end of the stick and the assumptions that we then make are based on incorrect information with the result that we are lost. Jesus knew that the crowd had got it wrong. Jesus had tried to put across his true identity but in such a way that the wrong ideas that prevailed were corrected. But the people did not accept his explanation.

In entering Jerusalem as he did Jesus showed courage. Instead of making the journey in secret and trying to avoid the authorities who were trying to arrest him he made the ride in full view of everyone. To try to change the accepted ideas of people is to court disaster. And this is just what Jesus is doing. He is making the last appeal of love.

In this brief moment of the life of Jesus we can see the danger that making wrong assumptions can bring about. Jesus acted in love for the people about him. That love was extended to all people when he took the Cross. As we travel through this Holy Week we shall share in the understanding that the Cross brought to us all.

Collect for Palm Sunday

True and humble king,

hailed by the crowd as Messiah:

grant us the faith to know you and love you,

that we may be found beside you

on the way of the cross,

which is the path of glory.