Yesterday I took part in a Palm Sunday service, marking the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week that would lead to his death. I listened to the story of those days: civil unrest in an occupied land; religious rivalries and political scheming; corruption and betrayal; false accusations and fake news; an innocent man arrested by night, then summarily tried and executed. Not for the first time, or the last time, a small life is swallowed up by larger forces of destruction. I listen and hear the raw emotions of those caught up in the events: fear, anger, bewilderment, disbelief and desperate loss. Life will carry on for some with barely a flicker of recognition of the disturbance; but for those whose hope is so suddenly crushed, how will another day be lived?
Traditionally Holy Week has been a time to enter into Jesus’ sufferings: to sense his pain and be willing to carry his cross as best we can. But the larger story is not our sharing in Jesus’ struggles but his entering ours. We wonder – and understandably – why and how God [if God exists at all] could allow such evils to happen. Where is this God when we are most lost? How could a supposed God of love allow the powerful to harm and thwart those who have no voice? What use is religion when even in this story it is conflicts of belief that fuel the venom of the crowd? I have no answer – nor does God – save this: that it is into the mess, hurt and harm that Jesus chooses to travel. This was his choice once, and is God’s choice always.
Resurrection is not in the picture yet, nor can imagination conceive it amidst such turmoil. There is further to travel into this darkness. Yet the God who created all things from darkness choose afresh to be here.