In the Shadows of Triumph

Isaiah 42:1–9; Psalm 36:5–11; Hebrews 9:11–15; John 12:1–11

Yesterday, we celebrated Palm Sunday. The Messiah, no, the King, no, God (!) entered Jerusalem! At churches around the world, children paraded waving palm branches. The triumphant entry is a big thing!

I remember being part of a multi- parade on Palm Sunday. We walked from one church to another. It was different. It provided some emotional and experiential context, but just as we read yesterday, the triumphal resulted in a quiet departure.

Traditionally, there are a couple of events that are “assigned” to . One of them is the anointing of Jesus by Mary. As Judas so kindly (sarcasm) pointed out, what she did was expensive. It could be seen as a waste. It was something used with a dead body, and Jesus wasn’t dead.

It was, however, a foreshadowing of what would happen in a few days (granted, no one understood that). It was a beautiful teaching point. In the midst of the smell of death (for the perfume was associated with that), Jesus lived!

This not-so-insignificant event was at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. A household that was already a place of significant events. This household seemed to have a pretty significant relationship with Jesus. The anointing of Jesus is also very intimate (which is telling, too) for only the immediate family would anoint the dead.

That Jesus went from the triumphal entry to quiet to the home of this family probably has lessons for us if we knew more. We can only presume and . As Jesus understood his time was short, he wanted to spend some extra time with this family that was significant to him.

Perhaps that is the lesson for us. We have spent the last year in a strange “space”. Time with was limited. Extend family was discouraged. We have learned some valuable lessons. Others are important, even for us introverts. As our times and interactions became limited, they became more valuable, and we began to choose which was the most significant to us.

It’s probably a good time to contemplate the quiet, the time before the darkness; the contrast between the triumph and the quiet. The time to celebrate, and the time to take a breath…and the of the .


  • Where do you “meet” Jesus most, in the triumph or in the quiet? Why do you think that is?
  • What do you see happening this week that will echo the emotional ups and downs of Holy Week?


Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the Cross, may find it none other than the way of and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [Monday of Holy Week Collect, Book of Common Prayer, 2019]