“Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild.” This was a hymn written by Samuel Wesley and it presents a lovely picture of our Savior. And there are certainly moments in Jesus’ life when that gentleness shone through: when he welcomed the children to him, when he protected the adulterous woman, and when he dined with the tax collector, Zacchaeus.
But there were other times when Jesus was anything but gentle or mild. For instance, on the day we know as Palm Sunday, shortly after Jesus rode a donkey down the Mount of Olives to the adulation of the masses, he went into the temple area and turned the place upside down. Literally. If you want to see a furious Jesus—a Jesus gone postal—watch as he chases the money-changers and merchants out of the temple with nothing more than a rope in hand. It must have been a jaw-dropping sight!
Now what—or who—provoked such indignation from “gentle, mild” Jesus? Well—the same people that provoked Jesus throughout his entire ministry. It was the religious folks. The upstanding, Bible-believing, rule-following, tradition-worshiping, go-to-church-on-Sabbath, religious folks. And more particularly, it was their leaders! Their elders—their teachers—their pastors. If I want to find myself in a gospel story, the closest I will come is when I read about the “scribes” or “Pharisees.” THESE were the senior pastors of their time. And THESE were the guys that really got Jesus’ goat!
We’ve been talking about Jesus as a subversive leader. Well, when we arrive to the last week of Jesus’ life before his crucifixion, he ain’t subversive anymore! No more covert Jesus. The gloves come off. He’s “In-your-face” Jesus. And to me, this glimpse of Jesus—when he finally admits what his followers had suspected all along: that HE was the long-awaited Messiah—and is ready to face the consequences…this glimpse is inspiring—and daunting—and a little bit frightening.
Join us this weekend as we begin the journey with Jesus through what we call Holy Week. Join us for worship on Palm Sunday at 8:30, 10:00, or 11:30 am as we marvel at the not-so-subversive Jesus. Join us for precious Maundy Thursday communion service as we gather with him and the disciples in the upper room. Join me on Friday on Facebook and YouTube as we pray together throughout the day that we call, oddly, “Good.” And finally, go online now and reserve your seats for the celebration of the day that changed forever: Easter! (If you are a regular Chapel Hill attender, consider coming to the 8:30 or 11:30 am worship services to make room for newcomers, who we anticipate will attend the 10:00 am service.)
A year ago, we were hunkered down, hiding from a virus. Now, we are coming out of that virus tomb! It will be a glorious Holy Week.