Ministry in Jerusalem

The reading this week is shorter to encourage rereading and contemplation. I invite you to notice a couple of things – first notice how the people welcome Jesus on Palm Sunday. Jesus does not enter Jerusalem on a charger to impose his authority on others, but a young, unbroken colt. He initiates conflict on behalf of the people, claiming that the religious authorities have turned God’s house into a “den of thieves” and criticizes the religious leaders and their practice at the end of Chapter 12, lifting up a widow as an example of faithfulness. He identifies with the people, and they identify with him.

As we read these events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion, particularly the ways the religious authorities try to entrap Jesus, recall that we live in a world full of crosses where the innocent suffer for the sins of the guilty. Think of refugees who didn’t start the war, people whose lives were destroyed by dioxins dumped at Love Canal, or miners who died because the coal operator didn’t maintain safe working conditions, or… The list of undeserved suffering is long. Some look at the world’s suffering and see God’s indifference. We look at the world’s suffering in light of the cross and are reminded of God’s passion. As Jesus heads to Jerusalem, fully aware of what will happen, he develops a bond with what my friend Roger Gench calls, “the ‘crucified class’ of his day.” Indeed, this is why the religious and political authorities found him dangerous.

One final thing, in Mark 11:11, notice the references to Bethany. It is about a mile and a half out of Jerusalem. That’s a fair piece of walking.