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Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion Reflection 2016

Each day this week, we’ll offer a short reflection on a reading, or a portion of a reading, for Holy Week. We hope that you find this to be helpful as you observe this week of the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus for us sinners.

Participants in the conference put on by the Network of Young Lutheran Theologians worship together in a monstery outside of Prague, Czech Republic in February 2016 (Craig Donofrio).

Participants in the conference put on by the Network of Young Lutheran Theologians worship together in a monstery outside of Prague, Czech Republic in February 2016 (Craig Donofrio).

–By Elizabeth Ahlman

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people” (Matthew 26:1-5, ESV).

After several parables consider the Kingdom of God and the end days, Jesus once again predicts His death by crucifixion to His disciples. Shortly after adoring crowds threw palms at His feet, and waved them in His honor, Jesus states again that He will be delivered to death. On Palm Sunday, we often focus on the triumphal entry (which reading is used for the Palm Sunday procession), but this Sunday is also the Sunday of the Passion, and the Gospel reading for the service reflects that. This is just a portion of that whole reading.

This excerpt sets the tone for the week. Holy Week focuses on the lonely way of Christ as He faithfully marches to the cross. Even as He predicts His passion, the chief priests and elders plot His arrest and death. They think the outcome is up to them. They think they know what they are doing. But it is God the Father and Jesus who determine the events of Jesus’ life and death. Caiaphas and the elders are only pawns in the Father’s hand, being used to bring about the greatest good: the salvation of the sinful world through the death of the sinless Son.

And we reap the fruits of that greatest of gifts as we live in the Baptismal lives gifted to us in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit — lives that walk the lonely way, confessing the Christ who knew His death was near and went willingly to it for us and for the life of the world.

Let us Pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You sent Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, to take upon Himself our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross. Mercifully grant that we may follow the example of His great humility and patience and be made partakers of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect of the Day for Passion Sunday from The Lutheran Service Book: Altar Book, p. 504.

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