Matthew 21: 1-11 – Jesus’ 15 Minutes of Fame

Palm Sunday Procession, Moscow, with Tsar Alex...

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[Reflections on the Gospel Lectionary Reading for Apr 17, 2011]

On the Christian calendar we celebrate Palm Sunday one week before Easter. As a child, I was struck by how swiftly things changed for Jesus. On Sunday he’s being hailed by the people and is the darling of the crowds. Within a few days, the crowd is calling for his execution.

This pattern of adulation followed closely by disparagement is one we see often in our society. Yesterday’s hero is quickly forgotten. Many achieve short-lived fame, but a restless crowd quickly moves on to fresher candidates. Today’s reading from Matthew makes me wonder, “Why did Jesus outlive his 15 minutes of fame?”

This is a critical question for those who want to see the man from Nazareth as just an ordinary man.  He wowed the crowds, but eventually he died as a convicted blasphemer.  His disciples were on the run and in hiding.  How did a faith that would survive more than 2000 years start from here?  Ultimately, everyone must find their own answer to this question.

I have learned that fake things do not last. They may make a big splash, but they fade.  Jesus was not a fake. His claims proved to be true. He was crucified for being a fake, but that conviction was overturned on the day that his tomb was found empty. His enemies tried to accuse his followers of stealing his body, and this testifies to the fact that his tomb was indeed empty. Only God has the power to resurrect the dead, and so when Jesus was resurrected, then those who had eyes could see that Jesus was who he claimed to be.

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  • Jim Wheeler  On April 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I am curious about one aspect of the story. Do you think the disciple Thomas went to heaven when he died?

    • jwhester  On April 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Despite my certainty that one shouldn’t speculate about another’s ultimate fate, I believe that Thomas will share in eternal life and the promised resurrection. So, no I don’t believe that his doubts prevent him from going to heaven.

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