Do you love the Palm Sunday story?
There is a Palm Sunday Chapel in Bethphage, just outside the old city of Jerusalem. It’s a Franciscan chapel situated on the road that passes by the Mount of Olives — a person might take this road to travel from Jerusalem to Jericho.
According to the gospels, Bethphage is the spot where the disciples procured a donkey for Jesus, which he then rode into Jerusalem as the people waved palm branches. If you and I were on pilgrimage in Jerusalem this Holy Week, we might walk this same road. (Incidentally, this is along the path pictured on the cover of my book.)
Entering this chapel made me feel like I had walked right into the Palm Sunday story. There were life-sized frescoes all around, in sepia tones. I asked a sister pilgrim to snap a photo to help me remember the experience. My expression is rather solemn, but I was overcome with emotion. While we were in the chapel, we sang a hymn, and then our guide asked us some provocative questions. A good question is valuable, so let me share them with you during this Holy Week:
Each Gospel writer used a particular lens for Jesus, a way of answering Jesus’ foundational question: Who do you say that I am? As we travel this Holy Week path, we must keep this question in the front of our minds. It is the essential question to the Palm Sunday story — and to every story this week. Who did the crowds think Jesus was? When we say ‘Messiah,’ what does that mean? A teacher to set them loose from religious law? A healer to cure their diseases? A liberator to free them from Roman rule?
~ Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land, pp. 127-128
We are all on a faith journey of some kind — Who do you say that Jesus is?