Then Herod, Caiaphas, and Pilate, will ask him who he is, as Jesus is put on trial.

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1 Bristol Lutheran Palm Sunday Mark 11:1-11, Mark 14: Who is Jesus The question that the Jews, Greeks, Disciples, nondisciples, Samaritans, Romans, Mary and Joseph all wonder. Then Herod, Caiaphas, and Pilate, will ask him who he is, as Jesus is put on trial. The Roman guards will question if Jesus is Elijah, as he calls out from the cross. Jesus is complicated hard to figure out. And maybe we aren t supposed to figure out Jesus, God, and instead accept him as he is. The God who forgives. The savior who eats with sinners. The one who annoys and amazes us with grace. The God who is present in people we don t like. The Jesus who draws ALL people to himself even if we don t think those people did anything to deserve his love. We are those people, and they are us.

2 Who is this Jesus, they ask the one who turns our nation upside down with changes, radical hospitality and inclusion, and reinterprets our faith teachings? Who is this Jesus that promises to tear down the temple, and build it back up? The one who cures the sick, makes the blind see, and lame walk. We still ask this question. Is Jesus really there, in the outcast and vulnerable? In the government officials and CEO s? In the proud and the humble? In the regular everyday people? Yes of course! But that is the easy answer. Believing it, and living as if Jesus is there among us and in us and others all of us, is much more complicated. Jesus is hard to figure out. Jesus comes into this week as King, Messiah. A royal entry! He is exalted, cloaks and branches placed on the road before him. Shouts of hosanna ringing in our ears. The call to the one who would destroy the rule of the Romans. Hosanna, literally means save us now! There is this excitement, energy, and expectation at the start of the week. We even feel that in our worship this morning. Who is Jesus? Jesus is Lord.

3 But it doesn t take long for us to feel the shift of the crowd. The religious officials didn t like the attention that Jesus was getting and they looked to kill him, and hired Judas to betray him. They were scared that his wild ideas would create riots that would disrupt the festival. He did say he would be killed and three days later be raised. Jesus and his crazy ideas! Release Barabbas instead! The disciples, who were just part of that processional, now question what all the fuss is about. Why waste that ointment on him! The excitement has diminished. The confusion has increased. All of a sudden, Jesus as Lord, doesn t seem like such a sure thing. Jesus no longer is someone to be worshiped, but someone whose sanity could be questioned. Who is Jesus now? Maybe a lunatic. And it doesn t stop there. By the time Friday hits, Jesus is betrayed, and abandoned, Peter has denied him. The trials, the calls for crucifixion, sentenced to death. And maybe we see the crowds trying to reason this out. Jesus can t be crazy, his love, compassion, and healing were genuine, right? But if he is Lord, why couldn t he just save himself from this torture, and death? And why does he not just tell Pilate that he is God s son, and then prove it. No, he isn t crazy, but he can t be Lord either. Maybe Jesus was just lying.

4 The crowds are left confused, still questioning, still wondering. Disappointed that Jesus didn t turn out to be who he said. Lord, at the beginning of the week. To some a lunatic, to others a liar, by the end. Holy Week is a great microcosm of how we see Jesus. The crowds the follow Jesus during this week, the up and down struggles they go through, give us insight to how we perceive Jesus throughout the ebb and flow of our own lives. Their faith in the week was not perfect. Nobody has perfectly strong faith. We doubt and question. We have mountain top moments, and dark valley periods. Times when Jesus is clearly present, clearly Lord. Times when our lives of faith seem ludicrous. Other feelings that life is more of a façade, or we wonder if God s promises aren t real. And all those feelings are okay, good in fact. They are honest. And God can handle it. Even during the holiest celebrations, we may wonder and question, wrestle with confusion. Life tends to do that to us. And life isn t put on hold because of Easter.

5 But that is exactly why we hear and experience holy week. It is why we need to see and feel, taste and smell the grace of Easter. Not only this one week out of 52, or this season of the church, but all year round. Because it brings us back to the story of faith that we are grounded on. We don t pretend that Holy Week ends on Friday. Holy Week in fact goes for 8 days, Sunday to Sunday. And it is that eighth day, called the new day, that we trust will always be there. That is where God s promise is fully heard in the silence of an empty tomb. The crowds saw Jesus as Lord, as lunatic, as liar as he hung on the cross and breathed his last breath. And they still thought he must have been a liar, as the world was silent on that Saturday. On Sunday, the women saw Jesus and the other disciples said You are as crazy as Jesus was! But when others went to see the tomb, and when Jesus showed up later that evening they clearly saw him as Lord. Who is Jesus? For us, that may be seen and defined in different ways because our lives change day to day, moment to moment.

6 But Jesus is the changeless one. The one whom we worship. The God who connects us to God and to each other, intimately. The savior whose loving compassion runs deeper than the seas. The one who gives us life. Jesus, who understands when we doubt, question, can t figure him out, think he is lying, or just crazy. Because he knows there will be one day, when all will call him by the name we started with Lord.

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