So, it’s the original Palm Sunday, Jesus and the guys are back in Jerusalem, and it’s going to be a long week. Many would not be able to spot it at the time, but this long week could be the most important week the world has ever seen, judged by outcomes. It would not so much be Holy Week, but World Crisis Week, the first the world would experience.
During this coming week, Jesus is going to pack in an awesome amount of his foundational teaching, he is going to deliberately ramp up his confrontation with the authorities to a red alert level, and then he will make the final act of self sacrifice to usher in a new age of personal forgiveness and renewal, justice and compassion, and to defeat the evil that was raging against him and the world.
The word holy these days is usually associated with piety, prayer, morality, patron saints, relics; it feels conservative, private, religious. That this cataclysmic week was named Holy is interesting. The pietistic flavour of the title removes it from its proper place in human history into the narrow world of religion – a tragic loss in a secular age.
Anyway, back to World Crisis Week, which all happened because Jesus decided it would. Imagine, however, if Jesus had done something different – perhaps taught some more insightful things, but before events turned ugly, had slipped out into the desert, headed for the Dead Sea, and joined a retreat with the Essenes. There he could pursue his theological studies (while doing some scroll-writing for the community – there were lots of scrolls still to do), and perhaps get back into a little carpentry and make the coffee table his mum had always wanted.
What would things be like now? Unrecognisable. Think of it like this and you get a glimpse of just how much Jesus has changed – and is changing – the world.
Crisis is good for us
And the crisis, or crises, continue. Jesus is always bringing crisis – to individuals, organisations, nations, religions (even Christianity). But they’re always crises with good outcomes: crises over whether to fight or forgive, to abuse or nurture, to take or to give, to hate or love, to cover up or confess, to go our own way or God’s.