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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Welcome on this Palm Sunday. 

The Passion narratives are replete with studies in struggle and lessons for us as we complete our Lenten study of struggle today.

A woman – praised through the ages for her love and goodness, anoints Jesus. Her heart breaks with the struggle of knowing what Jesus was about to face. On top of it all she suffers abuse for her goodness. Her resolution to her struggles – to respond in love and allow God to take care of the rest. Let us always respond to struggle with love and faith in God.

Judas – he struggles with his disappointment. Jesus isn’t the Messiah he wanted. He was going to fix that by forcing Jesus to act. His resolution to his struggle – failure in achieving his ends, a failure of his faith, and a horrific death. Let us avoid the despair of Judas by seeing Christ before all selfish desire.

The apostles and disciples – they nearly all, except John, struggle with failure in their promises and pledges to Jesus. They fall asleep. They abandon Him. They run away. They deny Him. Peter weeps bitterly realizing what he had done. They all hide and struggle to understand. The resolution to their struggle came in the person of the resurrected Jesus Who they accepted with joy. Let us reflect on our sinfulness, the breaking of our promises and pledges to God, with confession and renewed resurrection faith.

The women – Mary and the other Marys stood by Jesus’ side the whole way. They did not allow their anguish to overcome their faith in and love for Jesus. Let us imitate them.

The others – the Council, the false witnesses, soldiers, guards, Pilate, Simon of Cyrenia – each of them struggles with their actions or lack thereof. Each of them struggles between the way of God and the way of their human masters. Let us always listen to what God calls us to do. Jesus is God and He is the way, truth, and life.

The pinnacle is Jesus because in taking on our humanity He took on all our struggles, pain, and suffering. In that He, though innocent, took on all our sin and through His struggle paid the price for our sin. His heavenly Father took it all out on Him so that our debt would be fully paid. Jesus suffered every trial – His struggle with His Father’s will, with every injury inflicted, with abuse and mockery, a feeling of utter abandonment, the loneliness of death – All so we have life and hope greater than any struggle we face.