Walking to Jerusalem

WALKING TO JERUSALEM
Randall Tremba
April 1, 2012
Palm/Passion Sunday
Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church

Mark 15:1-39
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

* * *

If you listen to this sermon with one ear, by the time it’s over you may have an urge to occupy Wall St. or Washington DC or maybe even Martinsburg. You may feel inspired to participate in the life of Christ in some meaningful way in the world of power, politics and inequality.

If you listen with the other ear, you may hear of possibilities in the smaller world, the world you live in daily—the world right under your nose, your neighborhood, maybe your own family.

And if you can listen with your third ear, you just may discover something about your spiritual journey, that journey to the center of your own heart.

Good luck with all of that, especially the “third ear” part.

If you dare, take the hand of Jesus
and go with him to Jerusalem.
Along the way,
visit friends and challenge power
Turn water into wine
and be extravagant with praise.
For Jesus bids us live a dangerous love
and, in love, he leads us along the way.

Amy Mears

Over five Lenten weeks we have collectively “walked to Jerusalem” (6,000 miles!). We walked in part to imitate Jesus. And so today on Palm/Passion Sunday we might want to reflect a little deeper on the significance of such a walk.

At a certain point in time, as the gospel puts it, Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem and starting walking that direction. Apparently, his humanitarian work in the outlying, impoverished province of Galilee convinced him to go to the financial and political hub of the nation. Something was rotting in the heart of the nation and Jesus was not about to let it go on without a challenge. You may recall the table-tossing tirade while he temporarily occupied the money-changing sector of the Temple Mall.

Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem and started walking.

It’s the kind of walk you take after you’ve handed out hundreds of meals, blankets, and band-aids, and put up hundreds of bodies in homeless shelters. Sooner or later the Good Samaritan is going to get tired of picking up broken and beaten bodies along the Jericho road and start asking why there are so many broken and beaten households and communities, especially in a country that can afford to spend billions bombing another country to smithereens and then billions more rebuilding what it just demolished.

I wonder if you have a name for that kind of behavior. Do you?

Jesus detected something rotten at the core of the nation and starting walking. He walked to Jerusalem and certain death, not because he had no choice—but precisely because he did.

Despite what you may have heard, dying wasn’t Jesus’ wish—living was. But not just any kind of living. He refused to live a half-life. With a nearly unshakeable conviction that in life and death he belonged to God, Jesus lived boldly. He lived a dangerous love.

If you dare, take the hand of Jesus
and go with him to Jerusalem.
Along the way,
visit friends and challenge power
Turn water into wine
and be extravagant with praise.
For Jesus bids us live a dangerous love
and, in love, he leads us along the way.

Are you listening with all three ears?

Like the rest of us, Jesus was born into a world not of his making. It wasn’t the world he wanted any more than it’s the one we want. But it’s the world that is. It’s the only world we know. And choices must be made.

Over the past several weeks I have heard from many of you. You have told me stories about your lives and your children’s lives. You have told me of being knocked down and out and waking up in a world you never wanted. But there it was.

You woke up after great devastation or great disappointment and asked yourself: what am I going to do now? Crawl in a hole and die? That’s one option. And many of us have been in that hole.

Jesus chose life. In a broken and fearful world he chose to spend his life for all its worth doing justice, practicing kindness and walking humbly with God.

Jesus chose life. Not by escaping into a dream world but by being present, fully present with others in this world. Not fixing the world; but loving it. Mercy; not condemnation. No matter what comes down, we can at least be kind to one another.

Jesus chose to spend his life doing justice, practicing kindness and walking humbly. And that particular choice in that particular time and place led to capital punishment, death on a roadside cross, imposed by an Empire to deter other subversives. Jesus was convicted and executed under political charges—subversion and sedition.

What else could the Empire do? The Empire would be damned if it allowed anyone to question its authority or its right to protect the privileged few and exploit the masses. The Roman Empire wanted world peace and it would kill anyone who got in its way.

Jesus walked to Jerusalem and certain death, not because he had no choice—but precisely because he did. Dying wasn’t his wish. Living was.

By the way, Mel Gibson somehow missed the true passion of Jesus in his gory but wildly popular movie, “The Passion of Christ.” Jesus was passionate alright. But his passion was for life. He had a passion for releasing people from tortured lives, releasing people from shackles and crippling conditions, from despair, hunger, blindness, guilt and shame. And believe it or not it’s a passion in your heart as well, if you just roll the stone away and let it come alive.

Are you listening with all three ears?

Like the Roman Empire Jesus also wanted world peace but he would not use violence to get there. His way was to feed the hungry, heal the sick, teach the unenlightened, befriend the outcast and forgive, forgive and forgive. But he also didn’t hesitate to speak truth to the powers that be.

Jesus walked to Jerusalem.

He was not afraid of their threats or the consequences of loving boldly. For long ago Jesus had discovered and took to heart one simple truth: in life and in death, we belong to God. And not just any god. We belong to the One who lifts up the fallen, mends the broken, feeds the hungry, and brings the mighty to their senses; not by violence but by love. Mercy. Not condemnation.

And if we belong to God, who doesn’t?

* * *

When we are living, it is in Christ Jesus,

and when we're dying, it is in the Lord.

Both in our living and in our dying,

we belong to God; we belong to God.



Through all our living, we our fruits must give.

Good works of service are for offering.

When we are giving, or when receiving,

we belong to God; we belong to God.



 'Mid times of sorrow and in times of pain,

when sensing beauty or in love's embrace,

whether we suffer, or sing rejoicing,

we belong to God; we belong to God.



Across this wide world, we shall always find

those who are crying with no peace of mind,

but when we help them, or when we feed them,

we belong to God; we belong to God.