Palm Sunday 24th March

“Behold I stand at the door and knock”

It was no mistake or lack of balance which led the writers of the four Gospels to devote about half their pages to what we now call Holy Week, 7 days out of the 7,000 of Jesus’ adult life, one week out of a thousand. For, as the saying goes: ‘this is where the story really begins’. This is the climax, the show-down, the high noon. Jesus has come, knocking on the door.

Jesus comes to the city. Jerusalem symbolised all the potential in the human race for good and ill. And Jesus challenges our own society, our leaders and would-be leaders, our opinion-formers, everyone with power, to open up to him. To those who would keep religion and politics apart Jesus brings his central challenge of building the kingdom of God, acknowledging the rule of love, upholding the values of justice and human rights. Jesus is knocking on the door of the city. Can we hear this as voters, as citizens, as neighbours?
You cannot silence this knocking by killing him, remember.

Secondly, Christ Jesus is knocking on the door of the church which bears his name. Our calling as a church is to stay alert to our task and by so doing stay in touch with Jesus.  He can be discerned in many ways by us in our town; when you love even the least of these, said Jesus, you are loving me. The church of Jesus needs to open the door to his knocking; we need to pause and accept that following him is neither easy nor cheap – and then we need to do it with faith, hope and love.

So Jesus challenges society and challenges the church. But thirdly and powerfully the knocking is very personal, very individual. Holy Week demands a personal answer which only individuals can give. Jesus deals with us one to one, you and me. The greatest story ever told is nevertheless at this moment a story about each of us.  ‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?’ This quotation from the Psalms has been used from the very first time the story of the Passion was written down. Yet face it we must; the crucified Jesus demands a response. Is this actually the truth about God and about me?
What excuses will you make when you open the door and face your Lord? I was a victim of circumstances, of heredity, of upbringing – what will you say? “I did it my way!”  Jesus will hear you out with infinite patience and then ask again: “But who do you say that I am?” An answer is required. In your own words from your own heart.
This is your opportunity. When Jesus comes knocking provocatively, tearful yet determined, loving beyond our imagining, an answer is required. Yes or no; for or against. Everything to play for: who is he and who am I?  Listen to that knock.  Will you dare to open to him?
And yet this is much more profound than a challenge; Jesus is making an offer. Amazingly the key-holder is knocking!
Let him have what is his. Let him be the Lord of your life and mine, the Lord of Jerusalem and every society, the Lord of this church and of the whole Church.

Revd Peter Brain