This Sunday we read of Christ’s passion. But it’s not just his passion we remember, it’s that of all those around him—people who had no idea who he was. We wouldn’t have a Passion Sunday if it weren’t for the fear and hate those people built up over who they THOUGHT he was. Everyone seemed to make up their own profile about Jesus—criminal, conquering king, rabble rouser, crazy person—every identity but his true one.
His entry into Jerusalem riding on an ass was met at first by a cheering crowd of people who were expecting someone who would save them from Roman oppression. He turned out to be the kind of leader they needed but didn’t want: a servant God who – after they killed him — would teach them how to love. When Christ told them he would raise the fallen temple in their midst in three days, their disappointment turned to derision and then to hate.
Shouts of joy turned into demands for his death.
His supporters soon denied him; fell asleep on him; walked away from him. Betrayed him.
All of this he knew would happen. It was his destiny. The Passion is full of Jesus’s predictions and premonitions about his fate and that of all around him.
However, there was one tender moment that might have come as a surprise to him amidst all the rejection and betrayal he expected. The woman who anointed him with oil, and drew some anger to herself as a result, was a Godsend.
“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor,” the angry around him cried.
“Why do you make trouble for her?,” Jesus responds. “She has done a good thing for me. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
This moment was an oasis of love in the middle of a desert of hate. It might have even given Jesus some of the comfort he would later seek in the Garden of Olives—a gift his own sleepy disciples would deny him.
This Sunday when you raise your palm leaves, raise your passion too. Make it love this time.