What is the holiest day of the year for Jewish people?
Passover?? No – Yom Kippur
And what does Yom Kippur mean – day of atonement
It goes right back to Leviticus. It is about holiness, it is about cleansing oneself, it is about confession, forgiveness and movement beyond guilt
Do you know when it is? September. Not April
What are the odds that Jesus knew when Yom Kippur was?
What are the odds that Jesus knew what Yom Kippur was about?
I reckon they were pretty good.
And my guess is that if Jesus wanted to deliberately associate his engagement with the authorities with the concept of atonement and forgiveness from sin,
I reckon he would have gone up to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur.
Or, to put it slightly differently, if it were that the whole thing of Jesus’ death was “planned by God” so as to enable us to be atoned – forgiven and reconciled –
why didn’t God plan it to be at Yom Kippur?
But Jesus didn’t go up to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, he went for Passover.
The gospels don’t spend time telling us about the background meaning of Passover
At the time of writing the gospels – especially Mark and Matthew –
were being written for a continuation/ off shoot of Judaism
and they all knew what Passover was.
It’s a freedom festival.
It’s a freedom from oppression festival.
As one writer puts it:
It is the blending of religious devotion and political aspiration
It’s a celebration of the fact that Israel’s bondage and oppression in Egypt was ended.
And, not surprising, it was a nervous time for the Roman occupying force in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem tripled or more in size at Passover,
and actions of rebellion against the occupying force were pretty common.
And one of the places of highest alert was the temple
So let me pose a scenario for you
A week or so ago we had the installation of the new Governor General
There was various bits of pomp and ceremony
showing we still have some strong British history
What do you think would have happened, if as the new G-G was in a procession
through Kings Hall and into the Senate
an alternative crew was processing, with a Eureka Southern Cross Flag
Across Kings Hall in the other direction
and a group of followers were singing songs about an Australian republic
And what would have happened if the next day
a group of them gathered again in Parliament House and started painting on the floor.
My guess is that they would have been arrested
In harsher countries they may have been disappeared.
And so in Jesus’s day,
at the beginning of the festival which celebrated freedom from oppression,
just as the big colonial power was arriving in Jerusalem with pomp and ceremony
Jesus and his followers staged a parallel, mock, procession
And the next day he heads into the place which was the source of collaboration
between powerful people in Jerusalem and the occupying force
and he symbolically shuts down the Temple
and then a day later he undermines the collaboration altogether
with a comment about the image of Caesar’s head on a coin.
It’s probably not all that fair to the Romans or to the Jewish leaders
to say that Jesus was killed for no good reason.
He was killed for a very good political reason – it was treasonous and it was subversive.
It’s just that he was killed for a reason which we would say, and say loudly and strongly
When Jesus Christ Superstar toured Australia last year in the “Arena” tour
it was set in an “Occupy London” type setting.
It was probably a pretty fitting sort of setting.
And if you had the chance to see it
you will have seen that the song about the “palm sunday” story – “Hosanna”
seemed very much like a time of protest
A couple of weeks ago a group of Christians from a range of different denominations
were arrested as they gathered for prayer at the office of the minister for Immigration
It was a deliberate connection of our faith and our public life
On Palm Sunday this year – next week – there is a gathering in Garema Place
called “Rally for Refugees – Break the Silence”
It’s organized by a range of groups –
including the radical political groups called the Catholic Diocese of Canberra Goulburn
the Anglican Diocese of Canberra Goulburn
the Baptist Church in Canberra
the Lutheran Church in Canberra
the Uniting Church in Canberra
and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
Throughout the years, Palm Sunday (which is next week – April 13)
has been consciously associated with peace marches
with public statements and actions about the way
that the Christian faith believes in a different sort of society
and that we need to be consciously doing something about it
including letting our voice be heard and our actions be seen
Greg Carey – a NT professor, comments
For Christians it’s essential to confess Jesus’ righteousness.
But it’s also important to consider how Jesus got himself killed.
Following Jesus requires not pious passivity but passionate pursuit of justice.
His path opens the way not simply to innocent devotion but also to insistent testimony