It’s Palm Sunday. Lent is at its end. So is St Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
It ends, characteristically, with what is called a ‘doxology’ – a formula of praise that declares the goodness of God. In the case of Paul’s Roman letter, it also summarizes the kernel of what he has taught throughout the letter: that God has now revealed himself through Christ not just to Jews but also to Gentiles. It is only faith that matters now!
As Christ entered into the city of Jerusalem riding on the back of a young donkey, he was welcomed with cries of ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’. That, too, was a kind of doxology; the people of Jerusalem hymned his glory. But Christ, with his eyes already set firmly on Good Friday, knew only too well that his glory, the glory of Israel, the glory of the Gentiles, and the glory of God, all depended on his going to die on a cross. Christ knew only too well that the story of God’s dealing with human sin and his project of redemption for the world – the story of human sinfulness, the story of God’s gracious faithfulness, the story of Israel’s failure, the story of the Gentiles’ homecoming – could only play itself out the way it needed to if he himself endured spitting, public rejection, scourging, nails, and death at the hands of a conspiracy of Jewish religious authorities and Roman political might.
That is what Jesus pressed towards that first Palm Sunday: his own passion and death, and our salvation through his blood.
This is Paul’s good news. That in Christ, God has won. That in Christ, God has won – for you, for me, for Gentile and Jewish believer alike – an everlasting kingdom. That God has set Christ’s Spirit within us so that we might live like him, and that he might live through us. That, living in love and peace and self-sacrifice together, the whole people of God might make Christ manifest to every inch of the cosmos.
This is Paul’s Easter faith. May it be ours too.
These devotions were originally written for the parish of All Saints, Ascot and we are grateful for permission to republish them on Fulcrum.
Patrick is curate of All Saints’, Ascot in Berkshire. A musicologist by training, he is married to Lydia, a university lecturer, and dad to Madeleine. He writes (sporadically) at benedixisti.wordpress.com and tweets (even more sporadically) as @patrickgilday.