Plot twists force us to rethink everything in light of what’s been true from the beginning. This is what makes plot twists so interesting. In the prologue of John’s Gospel, Jesus is the “Word” that changes everything. He is the new twist to the plot that redefines everything.
“All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” The tempter invites Jesus to secure the cooperation of the nations through the tried and true way of political force; to use questionable means – the ways of the world – for good ends. And the force of the temptation – its main allure to Jesus – was that this kind of power works!
After the masses abandon Jesus because of his “hard” teaching, Jesus turns to his twelve disciples and offers one of the most touching, heartbreaking, and haunting questions of his life: “Do you also wish to go away?” What do you do when Jesus’ teaching is hard to understand? Can you love the God you don’t understand?
One natural reaction to the rising waters and crashing waves of affliction is fear. When storms suddenly arise in our lives, we all too quickly assume, like the disciples, that God must not care for us. If God did, we assume, there wouldn’t be a storm in the first place. We cry out to God, “Don’t you care?” We forget who is in the boat with us.
What savior are we celebrating this Palm Sunday? Are we just as ethnicly focused, nationalistic, or violent in our desires? Do we, with our branches, herald the god of our nationalistic self-interests or the God who blesses all nations? the god of our military war machine or the God of peace? The god who blesses America or the God who blesses the world?