Wait a minute! Why do we read that story today and read it again on Good Friday? I’ve had people ask me that question several times. Why do we read the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ on Palm Sunday and again on Good Friday? The simple answer is because the Passion is such an important story in our Christian faith that it bears repeating. After all, we couldn’t have the resurrection without the crucifixion and Jesus’ main purpose on earth was to be resurrected for our salvation. Isn’t our salvation worth hearing the story twice? It’s also important to realize that we’re reading two different accounts of the Passion. Today, we read the Passion according to Mark. On Good Friday, we will hear the Passion according to John. While the story is the same, the accounts are slightly different. If you’re wondering how the same story can be different, think of it like a family going on vacation. Let’s say that four brothers all go on vacation together to Disney World. For the sake of illustration, let’s pretend that the brothers’ names are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
While they are there, they are always together and are experiencing the same things. But each one has different events that hold greater importance in their hearts. For Matthew, maybe riding the monorail is most memorable.
For Mark, riding Space Mountain is unforgettable. For Luke, a ride through It’s a Small World keeps that song stuck in his mind for eternity. And for John, getting his photo with Cinderella is a dream come true (because John has always been a little different from Matthew, Mark and Luke!)
Although they all had the same experience, each one brings their own story back to share with others. The same is true for the authors of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They each have a slightly different story related to the same experience of Jesus’ Passion. In fact, some of their accounts even contradict themselves! For example, according to Mark, Jesus was crucified at nine o'clock in the morning and died shortly after his so-called "cry of dereliction" at three o'clock in the afternoon. However, John's Gospel still has Jesus before
Pilate at noon, with no other time frame given for the actual
crucifixion. All four accounts agree that Jesus was dead by evening of that day. For some of us, we might be concerned that these stories don’t align perfectly. But it is important to understand that our faith is not based on chronology. Our faith is based on theology. Theology is the study of God and the nature of beliefs. The order for which things occurred is not as important as understanding what happened. It doesn’t matter if Jesus died on the cross at 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock. What matters is that Jesus died on the cross for our salvation. Hearing multiple versions of the same story embeds what
Jesus did for us in our hearts, our minds and our souls. We hear one version of the story on Palm Sunday and a slightly different version on Good Friday. But as you listen to these various versions, don’t focus on the differences. Focus on what Jesus did for us. And give thanks to God for making this ultimate sacrifice for you and me! Lenten Blessings,