During this Lenten season many Christians have walked the Way of the Cross. They have reread the passion stories and reflected on Jesus’ life and death in their thoughts and prayers. And now we commemorate Jesus’ death on that first Good Friday with petitions that set his passion, cross, and death between God’s judgment and our souls.
On Good Friday we find ourselves in the company of transgressors, of those who condemned Jesus, who ordered the crucifixion, and who died on either side of him. The evil of this world and its cost seem very close. And we find ourselves not just as bystanders who look in on these events, but as those who have also failed or lost our way. While we weren’t at the cross to hammer nails or thrust a spear, we know that our own sins need the healing of outstretched arms to embrace us with forgiveness.
Edwin McNeill Poteat in a poem reminds us that the passion of Jesus is not to be forgotten when the hosannas of Palm Sunday are over. It is entitled, “Palm Sunday and Monday”.
They pluck their palm branches and hail him as King,
Early on Sunday;
They spread their garments; hosannas they sing,
Early on Sunday.
But where is the noise of their hurrying feet,
The crown they would offer, the scepter, the seat?
Their King wanders hungry, forgot in the street,
Early on Monday.
That early on Monday is now the following Friday.
The palms have turned into whips. The hosannas are cries to crucify. We enter the devastating and glorious absurdity of the sinless one identifying with us in our faults – who honors our hosannas, and who lifts us up even when we forget. If we do remember, we take to heart Jesus’ call to us to take up our crosses too – to be the help and hope for others who forget early on a Monday.