Seriously. Why? Why did it have to be this way? Why couldn’t someone have stopped it? Why couldn’t they have just avoided Jerusalem altogether? Why couldn’t Jesus have toned down his message, softened things a bit, once he knew some of the authorities were getting angry with him?
But these are only some “earthly” questions, practical ones regarding the historical events we just heard proclaimed in today’s Gospel passage. What about the really BIG questions, the PROFOUND questions. Why did Jesus have to suffer? Why did God choose this particular way to redeem the world, why did God choose this way to save us? (And what exactly do we mean by those words – REDEEM and SAVE?) Couldn’t God have chosen a different way? And if that’s the case, why didn’t he? And how does this make everything better, how does our God dying on a cross repair a broken world, repair broken hearts, and repair the relationship between God and his creation? BIG questions. The BIGGEST actually.
Why? Why? Why?
If you are like me, you’ve probably wondered about these sorts of things, wondered about what these events all mean – for our lives, our souls, and for the world. Sometimes we give ourselves simple one line “answers” to these questions in an attempt “explain” the inexplicable. But we know deep down that these profound questions cannot be “explained away”. In many ways they can’t be fully understood (in the fullest sense of that word), for they come from the mind of God, from his infinite wisdom and foresight, and as an expression of his incredible love for all his creation, and that means for you and me.
And so, if you have trouble wrapping your mind around the story we just heard, if you have trouble understanding all the “whys” that come to mind, if you don’t “get” what it all means or how it all “works” or what God was “thinking” – don’t worry – you are in a very good place spiritually. Those of us who feel we know all the “answers” are probably the ones who in reality understand very little. Some things are meant to keep us thinking, keep us in contemplation, keep us wondering about the questions that matter the most. The incredible story we just heard proclaimed is meant to keep us searching, keep us questioning, keep us on a journey, not stop us in our tracks.
And that’s what Holy Week is, a journey, a journey on which we take Jesus’ hand and walk with him, walk into the Holy City to the waving of palms and cries of “Hosanna”, walk with him to the Upper Room to share a meal with his friends, walk with him as he stands before the Sanhedrin and Pilate and Herod. And yes, we also walk with him up Golgotha, a lonely hill we would rather avoid at all costs.
And we walk with Jesus NOT because we understand everything, but simply because we believe in his great love for us, a love on full display in this story, a love so deep and so profound and so unbounded that we want nothing more than to respond to his love with love of our own, no matter how imperfect our love is.
And so we walk wherever he leads, not just today, but every day, hoping and trusting that hand in hand with Jesus is the safest place to be.
And so, I encourage each of us to make that sacred journey this week, placing our steps in his steps, our lives in his hands. And while we make this holy walk with Jesus, let’s keep on asking the BIG questions, the questions that matter most, keep wondering what it all means.
Who knows what we might discover?
Have a blessed Holy Week.