Isaiah 50:4-9a, Philippians 2:5-11 and Luke 22:14-23:56
Jackson Browne had a popular hit back in 1978 with Running On Empty. The rock musician both celebrates and bemoans life on the musical performance road perhaps at the loss of enduring relationships: you keep going as tho you are just “running on fumes” as when a gas tank is about empty. Going on when your resources or sustenance is about gone is also a definition.
In our texts today, we hear of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at Passover with his full intent to fulfill his mission in life. Paul goes into depth in the Philippians passage telling us that Jesus was “self emptying himself” of all his strong divine attributes for his mission. He would, so to speak, empty himself of Godhood for this divine saving mission. Running on empty indeed!
I don’t think I could ever follow and serve God if God required ONLY a mere human to die for our sins. Why this prophet/man from Nazareth should die for us seems a cruel plan…..unless God is also involved in the suffering in the Son of God, or God the Son! It is therefore a hard to explain notion of the Wholly God and Wholly Human on the Cross. But what is being said is that God is in this atoning Suffering fully as much as the fully human man Jesus!
Having said that (as scripture does) I have hardly reached a clear reasonable understanding! But the response is finally gratitude and joy as Easter later confirms that God does not abandon the Savior who Suffers for us!
Palm Sunday celebrates the fact that we were on the right path to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, but not quite on the right road when most everyone abandoned Him at the Cross and lost all hope for a few days.
Such is the human condition. Faithful but flawed, believing but unbelieving when we ourselves often find that “we are running on empty.” Jesus completed his journey without the divine attributes of power to avoid pain and suffering. The Rest of the Story comes later! And in power!
Join with millions this coming Holy Week to prepare and follow a Suffering AND Risen Savior!