Jesus of the Palms or of the Passion

And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: 

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”- Matthew 21:8-9

Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”-Matt. 27:22-23

At first Jesus was accepted joyfully.  They thought Jesus was a problem solver. They wanted a Jesus that would heal their illness, they wanted a Jesus who would be a political reformer, they wanted a Jesus….. They wanted a Jesus who would solve their problems. Jesus actually did all these things in his ministry but they wanted him to just do these things. The real Jesus had much more to offer. He is much more than just a solution to a crisis.

There is a danger in our ministry to preach “Jesus, the crisis manager”. The needs of the homeless are so overwhelming that there is temptation for us to present Jesus as a solution. However, this would be watering down the gospel to the level of marketing. The church is called to sell the Jesus product. Jesus is more than a product. Some people argue that we can use the tools of marketing in evangelism. I think we can only use these tools when we preach a different Jesus. The Jesus of the gospel was not selling anything. He won’t be reduced to the level of a product. A product is only good until it fulfills its purpose. This is what happened after Palm Sunday. Jesus was no longer necessary for the people’s purpose and He had to go. They killed Jesus because He outlived His utility for the people.

This is the problem with the “Jesus, the crisis manager”. Once the crisis is over or unsolved, Jesus loses His purpose. We cannot preach this Jesus to the homeless children and adults. It would be kinder to leave them in the streets than to give the false hope that Jesus is their crisis manager. Jesus does not want to fulfill this role and He won’t do it. Jesus is much more than this.

Who is Jesus then? Only Jesus can answer this question. The best we can do is to walk with people to the foot of the Cross. This is why I am a priest of a liturgical church. Good liturgy teaches me the meaning of evangelism. It is not convincing people that they need Jesus but it is walking with them to the foot of the Cross as we do symbolically during this week. The answer is at the foot of the Cross. Jesus came to fulfill one purpose and this was to hang on the Cross. St. Paul was right when he said that this sounds like foolishness to the world. It is a disappointment for those who are waiting for a social or political reformer. Yet, for those who can see and hear the Holy Spirit, they can testify with the centurion, “ Surely He was the Son of God.”

The best we can as do in our ministry is to walk with the homeless to the foot of the Cross and experience the Living Presence of God hanging on the Cross. This Jesus on the Cross is not a disappointment.