Really tragic books or really tragic and sad movies are always more difficult to get through the first time. You don’t know how it will end, which makes the tragic and sad events much more tragic and sad.
Once you know the happy ending it’s a little easier to get through the second and third time. Not easy, but a little easier.
So also, we know the end of the Passion of Jesus. He lives.
We cry out, “Hosanna! Save us!” And we are not surprised when He says, “I am. I did. I will. I am Jesus. My name means Savior.”
[We know the end when we confess our sins. We are forgiven and freed.
We know the end of every bit of suffering we have gone through, are going through, or will go through. It will end. We will not. We have been baptized into Christ and are in Him forever.]
Still, it’s not pretty or easy to hear the Passion of Jesus for second time or thousandth time. We see ourselves in it. And we don’t come out looking very pretty.
We see how our greed can too often control us as it did Judas.
We see how our jealousy of others and the desire to control others using force in the Jewish leaders coming out with swords and clubs.
We see our pride, “O, what strong faith I have! How great of a Christian I am!” in Peter’s “Though they all forsake you, Jesus, I will not.”
We see the result of our pride ending in despair in Peter’s hard fall. Faith in self will always end in failing self and God and others.
We see ourselves too often fleeing the Christian confession in the disciples of Jesus. When things get tough, the tough get going, and we find ourselves too often going the wrong way with the world and with our sinful desires.
We see our rage boiling up and spilling over as it did the crowds that got all worked up by the Jewish leaders and yelled “Crucify! Crucify!”
We know the end! We know how this story will end. We know how this sermon will end. But that still doesn’t make this easy to hear. It’s still not pretty to watch. Our sin, though not counted against us, is still nonetheless quite ugly
That’s a good recognition. It reminds us that we still need to cry out, “Hosanna!” We still need Jesus to save us! We still need Him and His Passion and cross. And we still have Him!
We gather to hear the voice and story of a living Jesus, who was willing to save us and still us and still does.
We gather to eat and drink the living body of Jesus and drink the living blood of the One who truly was and truly is the Son of God.
He forgives us. He lives for us. He gives us with His willing Spirit. The Spirit is willing.
And so too do we hear our Christian faith, weakened by the flesh, but willed by the Spirit in the Passion story, too.
We don’t want to deny Jesus. We are willing to die with Him.
“Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, eve death, rather than fall away from it?” – we were asked on our confirmation day I, do, by the grace of God.
The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
We confess that Jesus and His death is the reason we live and move and have our being as did the woman who anointed Jesus’ head for burial with an expensive ointment. And our Lord calls her confession and your confession a beautiful thing.
We do desire to hear the Passion of Jesus and receive the Lord’s Supper even if it for the thousandth time because it helps us remember how this all will end.
This life is not pretty. It isn’t easy to get through. But we do know that’s God holds us in His hand, guides us as Good Shepherds do through the valley of the shadow of death, until we reach the Father’s kingdom and reside there forever.
We do want Jesus’ blood to be upon us and our children as the crowds cried out, they in rage, we in begging for mercy and certainty. For, His blood cleanses us. His blood assures us that God is at peace with us. His blood gives us the confidence to keep going until the end.
And we do find ourselves in the Christ who was mocked with the words: “He trusts in God; let God deliver Him.”
We’re comfortable there – trusting in God to deliver us because we know this story, we know this passion, we know His cross, and we know the end.