Nothing could have stopped this Pascal mystery of God and humanity. No amount of super-good discipleship or wisdom or hindsight would make a lick of difference to God’s determination to draw all people to God’s self through Jesus lifted high and on a cross.
See, we are no different than the shouting crowds – those that do the right thing for the wrong reason or those who do the wrong thing for the right reason. There is no better class of improved people. There are just people.
And as soon as we think the good news is that we know better than those caught up in into the tragic events of that first Holy Week, we are mistaken. As soon as we think the good news is that we now know how to do the right things and for the right reasons we are mistaken.
Because it had to happen like this. When the Pharisees told Jesus to stop his disciples from such an embarrassing display, he said that were they to stop even the stones would cry out. So there had to be crowds who shout praise and friends who betrayed and followers who denied and women who wept and soldiers who mocked and thieves who believed. It would have happened like this even if the Jesus event were happening now instead of then. Even if we knew everything in advance – were we the ones on the street we too would shout Hosanna and a few days later shout crucify him. And that’s the good news when it comes down to it. Because these people of the Holy Week story are we people. And we people are the likes of which God came to save. God did not become human and dwell among us as Jesus to save only an improved, doesn’t make the wrong choices kind of people. There is no improved version of humanity that could have done any differently.
So go ahead. Don’t wait until you think your motivations are correct. Don’t wait till you are sure you believe every single line of the Nicene creed (no one does). Don’t worry about coming to church this week for the right reasons. Just wave branches. Shout praise for the wrong reason. Eat a meal. Have your feet washed. Grab at coins. Shout Crucify him. Walk away when the cock crows. Because we, as we are and not as some improved version of ourselves…we are who God came to save. And nothing can stop what’s going to happen.