After a ministry of concealing his identity, Jesus allows the people of Jerusalem to greet him as the Messiah on Palm Sunday. There is a real change of direction here., as if we are again picking up the loose threads from his earlier manifestations: his manifestation to the shepherds, that we celebrate at Christmas; or to the Magi, that we celebrate at the Epiphany; or in the Temple, that we celebrate in the Presentation; or at the River Jordan, that we celebrate as his Baptism by John; or his manifestation on Mount Tabor that we celebrate on the Second Sunday of Lent and on the Transfiguration. Now is the time for his manifestation as the Son of David–and the Son of God–in Jerusalem. During the events of his final Passover, St. John’s Gospel will have Jesus say, Once I have been lifted up from the earth I will draw all to myself. We often understand that as “all people” but the Greek text simply says “all”: all people, yes, but all things, all of creation, all time, past, present and future. That is to say, the cardinal moment of salvation history has come.
Yet what we see on Good Friday appears cloaked in obscurity and darkness, just another routine execution of a nobody. Father, they know not what they do. Indeed! Who knew? Who needed to know? It was enough that the Son of Man knew, he who, as is underlined by St. John, freely embraced his death on the cross to save the world. For this I have come to this hour; and Jesus would not escape from it. In John’s account of the Pasion, the arresting police force that come to arrest him falls down powerless before Jesus: they could have been prevented from arresting him, but he freely turned himself over to them. This is one of the oddest manifestation of Jesus’ identity; he shows what he could do, but he chooses powerlessness. It could have been a turning point of faith for anyone there, but for a moment, faith is eclipsed and even the apostles flee.
Instead of a moment of power, it’s a moment of submission to the powers of this world on the way to annihilation. But it is also a moment of submission to God’s will, a moment of glory, that bringing God into the depths of our limits and the consequences of our sinfulness to annihilate the constriction of sin. Jesus, recognized by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God, assumes the role of the Passover Lamb and is sacrificed, not to preserve our life but to give us new life. He opens up a way for us through his broken flesh–through our broken flesh and broken lives–to receive the fullness of life not by evading death but by passing through death with him. What seemed as an inevitable dead-end becomes the gateway to God’s life, which is God’s love.
from a Chapter Talk by Abbot Robert, 13 April, 2014