“The stone rejected by the builders is now the main foundation stone . . .” (Psalm 118:22)
No one likes rejection.
Before the teen years end, a boy or girl we once gave our wholehearted love to will start dating someone else. It’s okay though, our former flame will say with words that burn, we can still be friends . . .
I sought a job in Oregon once that seemed perfect. My wife and I had moved to the Northwest for her new position at a university and—truly feeling God’s guidance during phone and in-person interviews—I felt humbly confident my future employers would offer me the position. Then came the final phone call . . .
At a ministry conference in the 1980s, I attended a relaxed Q & A with guest speaker Alice Walker of “The Color Purple” fame. As a then young pastor (and longing to be a published author), I asked her how often she’d been rejected in her early career. I can still picture Ms. Walker thoughtfully nodding, and then—gazing at me—saying, “Never.” For a brief, darkish second, I despised her. Why was there always someone who never experienced . . .
“Many people spread out their clothes on the road while others spread branches cut from the fields.” (Mark 11:8)
Today I read Mark through John’s eyes.
Only the Gospel of John mentioned palm trees.
Mark and Matthew were branches, with no palms allowed.
And Luke? Well, Luke didn’t know, didn’t care, or got the memo late about the greenery. There were no palms in the third gospel, just cloaks scattered on the ground when Jesus entered Jerusalem.
Palms, like other elements in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, were symbolic. For example, the bread and wine shared during the “last supper” were common parts of a meal that became essential symbolic elements. Don’t forget the iconic gold, frankincense, and myrrh in Matthew’s version of Jesus’ beginnings. After Bethlehem’s gifts, there was the high-in-the-sky symbol of a dove descending. And if your literal-leaning faith prefers to interpret the gold at Jesus’ birth in the clutches of a flesh-and-blood magi or a visible and heaven-sent bird at baptism soaring in the clouds above the Jordan River, at the least we can agree those—and other Gospel events—have become symbolic.
“When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking ‘Who is this?'” (Matthew 21:10)
Who is this?
Jesus? Is this . . . who?
Jesus . . .
This, who is!
All the wide streets, narrow alleys and beaten paths emptied more debris and people into the roiling, boisterous crowd. Wind swirled. Branches chattered. Banners fluttered. Officers barked orders. Soldiers tightened grips on swords and spears. Shopkeepers closed early or doubled their prices. Whores beckoned from the shadows. Thieves rejoiced; so many pockets, so little time. Children played a dozen variations of tag. Dogs snatched food from unsuspecting hands. Over there, two were joined by two more when a fistfight erupted. Not far away, a cripple was trampled. Down a few steps, a woman stabbed a man with his knife. A beggar snatched a purse of coins left on a table. A priest fondled a woman and was kneed in the groin. And they shouted . . .
I need . . .
You can’t have . . .