Luke 13: 31-38; 19: 28-44
From today’s passage, the Gospel of Luke, chapter 13, verses 31, we are reminded that Jesus and his disciples got bad news from the Pharisees—“Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” Yet, Jesus answers them in verses 32-35—“Go and tell that fox, Tell him I have three days’ work to do, casting out demons and performing cures. Tell him I have to do that, even if I have to die.
I will not stop my transformative work, because I care that much about the city and want it to flourish.” Then, Jesus addresses the name of the city, “Jerusalem and Jerusalem.”
Jesus speaks sadly—it is not sadness for himself, but sadness for the city. It is a city that distorts justice—stopping truth-telling artists and labeling people as the deserving and undeserving. It is a city that does not welcome a second opinion or an alternative voice that might imagine well-being for all. And I it is a city that people like it the way it is, and do not want to change the way it is. In addition, today’s other passage, chapter 19, reports—when Jesus came near the city, he wept over it, because he loved it.
Now, here we are again, Palm Sunday of 2023. Our city, in the state of Texas, might be Stephenville, Dublin, or Hico. Or, it could be any city. And here is the deal. Jesus still loves the city, enough to cry for it. Jesus still wants to heal the city. Jesus still wants us to stay here to do his ministry, demanding that we participate in the same three actions as Jesus does in the passage—loving, weeping, and staying.
Like Jesus loves the city of Jerusalem enough to go there, at risk, and be there and stay there to do the ministry, we are called not only to wave Palm branches by shouting “Hosanna” but also to go somewhere for someone, and to be there and stay there to do the ministry of the Christ. Like Jesus weeps for the city, we are called to face the city’s reality, and weep for it, to see it the way it really is, willing and able to tell the truth and not be blinded to the ways of the world.
Nevertheless, Jesus stays—it is more than weeping and crying for the city, casting out demons and performing cures. What can be today’s demons? Maybe, demons are forces that cause us to act against our own best interest, the invisible forces such as all kinds of “~isms”--sexism, racism, classism, and all kinds of “phobias.” Yes, those seem natural in the world, and we are even numb to those demons. That is why we are called to be a different community for the city.
In today’s passage, Jesus loves ancient Jerusalem with tough love. Likewise, we are called to concern about the city and love for the city with tough love--—naming and casting out today’s demons and forgiving others as we are forgiven; and gathering together for the common ground
that is Jesus Christ.
Let us keep celebrating Jesus’s arrival with Hosannas. Jesus still comes to love the city, to the weak, to tell the truth, so we, as the city, welcome him with exuberant Hosannas. And let us keep standing as an oasis in the city and being an engine for the city—transforming the city and making all things new.
Thanks be to God.