April 13, 2014

Reading Matthew 21:1-11; Matthew 27:27-31 (NRSV)

I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?

The Good News is that God is Good, All the Time. The bad news is that God’s goodness is not a magic bubble that keeps out pain and suffering.

Today’s two readings place the good and the bad in sharp contrast. The first scene fulfills prophecy: the king comes to Zion. Excited people shout “Hosanna!” as they welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. They lay down cloaks and branches in his honor. The second scene happens days later, after the arrest of Jesus. Again, people exclaim, “Hail, King of the Jews!” But now the branches are a crown of thorns and a reed with which to hit him on the head. Instead of laying cloaks on the road, they strip Jesus of his clothes and place on him a scarlet robe as a mockery of royalty. The triumph of the entry into Jerusalem has turned into betrayal, humiliation, and torture.

These two scenes show us good news first, then very bad news. But that’s not the end of the story. After crucifixion comes the overwhelmingly Good News of resurrection. Jesus has risen to show us that whatever the bad news, Good News has the last word.

Let us pray. God of Good News first and last, thank you. Forgive us for forgetting, in times of suffering, that you’ve been here. May our actions share your Good News with the world. Amen.

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