Mark 14:1-15; 47 | Palm Sunday, Year B
Palm Sunday and a New Way of Seeing
The line that jumped out at me from this gospel was, “The chief priests and scribes were seeking a way to arrest him…” (v. 1) How often do I go into situations “seeking a way” to do whatever will serve my purposes? How often do I only look for what will prove my point? Most of the time, which is probably true for us all, no matter what side of any issue we are on. We look for, and see, what will prove us right.
The chief priests and scribes felt threatened by Jesus, and rightly so. He was upending the established order and they couldn’t really see how it would shake out. Things were going to be different and that was understandably scary. Only God knew what was truly in their hearts (they may not have known that either), but from their perspective, they had led exemplary religious lives, followed all the prescribed rules, and thought they were in the right with God. Jesus not only threatened their status, but He threatened the standing of the people they led too.
In their view, Jesus needed to go, because they viewed His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as an interloper who threatened their relationship with God and that of the people they led. When they saw the crowds lining the streets and waving at this Man on a donkey (think rock concert craziness), their worst fears were confirmed. Viewing the scene through the lens of their fears, they saw what they were looking for.
The problem is that EVERY issue has two sides. Every single one. Look at the Bible. Scripture, the inspired word of God, has been used to justify every dispute there is. It would be easier if there were just one way—we could just do that and be all set. But Jesus came to abolish that way of thinking, the old covenant. Even Old Testament people struggled to define a single answer— they had hundreds of rules to try to cover every situation. But they still couldn’t do it. Man will always find loopholes in a rule-based system. That’s why God sent Jesus. The old way wasn’t working.
God wanted us to think, not just follow. He wanted us to develop and grow our consciences. He wanted us to be able to spot our blinders and see how they might keep us from seeing another picture. The scribes and chief priests saw only the threat inherent in the Man on the donkey. They missed the salvation Jesus came to offer to all. They missed the bigger picture.
Sometimes, though, the bigger picture is in small things. A willingness to see another’s perspective can show compassion and crack a door towards reconciliation. An “I don’t necessarily agree with you, but I see where you are coming from” can go a long way. Palm Sunday is all about seeing things in a different way—specifically that death isn’t an end to fear but a beginning to look forward to.