In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
The Entrance: Matthew 21:1-11
As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey — riding on a donkey’s colt.’”
The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Opening sentence and prayer:
Almighty and eternal God, when you sent our Saviour into the world, you gave us all an example to follow: in humble obedience he took upon himself a body like ours and gave himself up to death on the cross. In your mercy, grant me the grace to learn from the example of his passion and to share in the glory of his resurrection. I ask this through my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
A Reading from the Old Testament: Isaiah 50:4-7 (NLT)
The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will. The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me, and I have listened. I have not rebelled or turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.
A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 (NLT)
“Is this the one who relies on the Lord? Then let the Lord save him! If the Lord loves him so much, let the Lord rescue him!”
Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.
O Lord, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs.
Praise the Lord, all you who fear him! Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob! Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.
A Reading from the Letters: Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT)
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
A Reading from the Gospels: Matthew 27:11-54 (NLT)
Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him.
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.
Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd — anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you — Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)
Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”
Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death — we and our children!”
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.
After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.
The Death of Jesus
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
God, our strength, hear our prayers and make haste to help us.
+ For the Church of God throughout the world – that all Christians may celebrate these holy days with deep faith…. Lord, hear my prayer.
+ For the Jewish people, our brothers and sisters – that they may continue to grow in faithfulness to the covenant…. Lord, hear my prayer.
+ For the city of Jerusalem, where pilgrims gather and many faiths meet – that it may be a place of forgiveness and reconciliation…. Lord, hear my prayer.
+ For those who suffer torture and humiliation – that the sufferings of Christ, and his glory, may bring them hope…. Lord, hear my prayer.
+ For all those who have gone before us in faith, and those who mourn their loss – that they may journey through the valley of death to resurrection and reunion…. Lord, hear my prayer.
God of compassion, in the death and resurrection of Jesus you show your love for us: hear our petitions, and grant them, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Spiritual Song: “Jesus Remember Me” – Taize
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Categories: Life in Christ