Because so many people will have a Holy Week broken up by spring break travels and moments out of their usual context, I post this meditation on Luke's Passion as a sort of Prologue. If you can do nothing else before Easter, sit down and read Luke 22 and 23. Perhaps this framing will be helpful:
Passion Sunday Year C
We live in a world that loves a story of winners and losers, where history is too often the story that is told by those who came out on top. Truth gives way to truthi-ness, and the people with the loudest microphones set the tone of our narrative.
The story of Jesus’ passion, especially in Luke, can be read that way, as a story of mob mentality, a story of how fickle we are as human beings, how easily we turn against those who do not meet our expectations, how much we want to tie ourselves to a star.
But make no mistake. This is not a story about whether Jesus will win or lose, whether he will be a king as he is hailed to be on that Palm Sunday. It’s only about what kind of king he is, and who will recognize it.
We think we know what kings do: they rule, they wield the power of the sword; they set themselves on top and expect everyone else to take their place below. They meet with other kings and rulers and travel the world making royal appearances.The king’s language tells the story and the king’s judgment makes the law.
And here comes this king who does everything backwards. . . who does not defend his power, who eats with the lowly, who has no palace, no royal guard. Who relies on the hospitality of others.
And finally, this king pardons, not the deserving, but those who clearly deserve punishment. And dies between two thieves.
Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. . .
Finally, before his final breath, someone declares him a king in an unironic way – and it is this thief, who is going to die anyway, who understands that Jesus’ kingdom, when he comes into it, will not look like a walk off the cross.
When you come into YOUR kingdom, Jesus, remember me.
Remember me in YOUR kingdom:
The one where enemies are reconciled ( 23:12)
The one where strangers take up a cross and follow you (23:26)
The one where sinners are welcomed (23:42)
The one where power is not measured by might but by righteousness and mercy
Jesus says today you will be with me in paradise
For what is paradise if not a place where the righteous are declared innocent
Where the sinner is pardoned
Where even the barren are blessed (23:29)
Where enemies become friends
Paradise –is that place of rest where the righteous wait for the resurrection
And today we are welcomed too – for this week, for our lives –into that place of blessed rest where we know that Christ is king, and where we wait for the resurrection, for the new life only this king can bring. That paradise is here today, because Jesus stands among us.