Palm Sunday, 14 April

Luke 22:14—23:56

Then the assembly rose as a body and
brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this
man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and
saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” Then Pilate asked him, “Are you
the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” Then Pilate said to the chief
priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” But
they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout
all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether
the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s
jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that
time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see
him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him
perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus[c] gave him no
answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even
Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put
an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and
Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.

Pilate then called together the chief
priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this
man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your
presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him.
Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to
deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

Then they all shouted out together, “Away
with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” (This was a man who had been put in
prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate,
wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting,
“Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he
done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore
have him flogged and then release him.” But they kept urgently demanding with
loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate
gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they
asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and
he handed Jesus over as they wished.

As they led him away, they seized a man,
Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on
him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed
him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for
him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep
for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely
coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never
bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the
mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when
the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two others also, who were criminals, were
led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is
called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his
right and one on his left.  Then Jesus
said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And
they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but
the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if
he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming
up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews,
save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of
the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged there
kept deriding[i] him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and
us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are
under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned
justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done
nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into[k] your
kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in

It was now about noon, and darkness came
over the whole land[l] until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light
failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with
a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said
this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he
praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And when all the
crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they
returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the
women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these


gospel reading is a lengthy one, a total of 153 verses. It is an account of our
Lord’s passion, death and burial and some detailed explanation of it by St.
Luke. The details of our Lord’s sufferings at the hands of his fellow Jews on
that first Holy Thursday night in Jerusalem and the subsequent sentence of
crucifixion pronounced by a pagan Roman judge on one he had declared innocent
of ay crime, is well-known to any Christian, worthy of the name.

But thieves
and theoretical knowledge is not what makes a Christian or a follower of Jesus.
Down through the ages great men have lived and died and their deeds have
benefited others in many ways, for greater or lesser periods. However, the life
and death of Christ has not only benefited man’s life on earth, it has changed
the very purpose of man’s existence, for it has changed his relationship with
God and with his eternal destiny.

Through and
by the Incarnation, death, resurrection of Christ, we, who are merely human
mortals, have been made sons and daughters of God by divine decree, and heirs
of God’s eternal kingdom of heaven. Our human nature is raised to union with
the Godhead in the Incarnation. This salvation plan was eventually fulfilled in

Therefore, the life and death of Christ is
not just some record of history of the past, rather it is for all men and
women, not Christians only, a fact of the past which dominates and basically
affect rational man’s purpose I life today ad always as well as his day to day
mode of living that life.

There are millions on our earth today, who
through no fault of their own, have not yet heard of God’s infinite love for
them as proved in the Incarnation, but God will find ways of extending its
benefits to them if they do their part. There are millions too who have heard
the good news but refuse to believe it or to act according to it; those too we
can safely leave to the all merciful God.

But for ourselves, professed followers of
Christ, who during this Holy Week will be reminded daily of what God has done
and is continuing to do for us, our only answer is to beat our breasts in
humble contrition like some of the crowds returning from Calvary on that first
Good Friday.

We know we are utterly unworthy of the
unfathomable love that God has shown us. When we look at the crucifix and see
the Son of God nailed hands and feet to that cross, slowly shedding his heart’s
blood for us, what can we do but bow our heads in shame? If we did not jeer at
him and mock him openly as the Pharisees did that day on Calvary, we did so by
our coldness, our forgetfulness, and worse still by our many deliberate sins
against God and neighbour.

While we have reason to repent of our past
faults during this Holy Week, we have also every reason not to despair but to
hope. In the very height of his agony on the cross, our loving Savior uttered a
fervent plea to his heavenly Father, asking for forgiveness for all those who
had brought his death agony on him. Holy Week will be truly a holy week and a
turning point in our lives if we repent of our part and turn to our loving God.
Through the life, sufferings and resurrection of his beloved Servant and Son,
He has made us his adopted sons and daughters, heirs of heaven. He will not
fail us as He did not fail His Son. Amen.