The King Comes Anyway…

Full Text

I find it ironic that in an age full of irony with a people tuned to understanding layers of meaning taking place Palm Sunday in some quarters is being transformed into Passion Sunday. Well not at St. Mark in West Henrietta. Since we have been reading from St. John’s Gospel, I took the Triumphal Entry text for this week.

The King comes anyway is a refrain used. Everyone at that first Palm Sunday was clueless. The King came anyway. And truth be told we are usually pretty clueless ourselves. The King comes anyway. He comes in waters of baptism. He comes in bread and wine. He comes in the simple proclamation – do not be afraid, daughters of Zion. The king comes anyway, full of grace and truth. We ask in are prayers that he come to us also.

5 thoughts on “The King Comes Anyway…

  1. Speaking of raising from the dead, during the Tenebrae readings, at Christ’s death “the earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised from the dead…” Who are these holy people and what is the significance of this passage in Matthew?

    1. A couple of thoughts –
      1) earthquakes, dead being raised, rocks splitting, these are all symbolic ways of talking about THE Day of the Lord. Apocalyptic language, especially judgement language – like the moon turning to blood. It is an OT prophetic way to say exactly the scope of what happened on the cross. There will be another earthquake on Easter morning when the stone is rolled away.
      2) One of the ways of explaining the creed’s “he descended into hell” is that part of that descent was the release of the OT patriarchs, prophets and saints from sheol. (I’m not endorsing this one because I think it is too limited in a time based thinking i.e. the OT had to wait until Christ came in time). You can see this passage as a basis of that statement. At his death the sacrifice was complete and many OT holy people were released from Sheol.
      3) The simplest way (and how I generally see it) is to take it as something like the raising of Lazarus. Point #1 was the purpose behind the miracle. These things were physical proofs of larger reality. (And note the Matthew didn’t write the moon turned to blood or something that would be different than anything that Jesus had already done.) Who they were? Holy people around Jerusalem most likely anonymous because if it was John the Baptist or some prophet that would have been noted.

      This passage runs into the modern skeptical mentality, and nobody else has it – not the gospels, not Paul, not an extra-biblical source. It fits with Matthew’s overall Jewish/OT mentality. The reader schooled in Daniel would have understood these signs. And to me none of them are so wild as not to have happened. The synoptics don’t mention Lazarus, but they have the widow at Nain’s son and the little girl. It doesn’t stretch my mind too much to see pious dead people come alive, go tell their loved ones the significance and then return to the grave. To have some of those people talk about it – especially after Pentecost – and to see it reflected in a Gospel. But like all the signs – they are a call to faith in the one who did them. They point to the larger reality and this one on the Cross really is the LORD.

  2. “One of the ways of explaining the creed’s “he descended into hell” is that part of that descent was the release of the OT patriarchs, prophets and saints from sheol. (I’m not endorsing this one because I think it is too limited in a time based thinking i.e. the OT had to wait until Christ came in time”

    You mention Christ’s descent into hell as per our creeds. Here is a post on this topic written from the perspective of the Catholic tradition. The question at hand is, Why did Christ descent into hell upon his death? Note, toward the end of the post, the comment about Lutheranism. Please comment.

    1. The Lutheran Confessions have this short paragraph in the Epitome of the Formula of concord. That paragraph references a Luther Sermon that cane be seen at the second link. The third link is a Lutheran Witness Q&A that also tackles it.
      Formula of Concord Paragraph
      Luther’s Sermon
      Lutheran Witness

      The way I take that post really represents the places where the “theories of the atonement” start to break down. If you are so solidly for a penal substitution theory (Christ Suffered our penalty for sin), then you end up at Calvin taken to a logical extreme. If you are so solidly for a Christ the Victor theory (Christ triumphs over our great enemies) then you probably end up at Rob Bell/Origen. The Greek Orthodox (and your link sounds more Orthodox than Roman) like to talk theosis – atonement is made “in Christ” as we are made more like him. All are valid way to talk biblically about the work of Christ, but all also breaks down when pushed too far.

      As to Luther, and I would say the Catholic church, these theories of the atonement are just that. They are biblical ways of talking about what Christ did, but no theory can encompass perfectly what Christ himself alone did. I’m not sure where the author gets the idea that Luther says the Father hates the son. My guess would be some Good Friday type sermon on the cry of dereliction and the darkness. This is not the Father hating the son, but accepting the sacrifice being made. The son becomes the scapegoat or the passover lamb. The sins of the world heaped on him which the Father judges. But that debt is paid with “it is finished”. Luther’s conception of what that descent article captures is more that the descent is when Christ bound the devil and stripped him of all power. It was a triumph parade. (The reason I back off saying the releasing of the OT saints is because a biblical way of talking about them is the bosom of Abraham which is not hell.) In Luther – as in the Church Fathers – I find all of the theories of the atonement at play.

Comments are closed.