The Border Watch called this article ‘Salvation Accomplished’.
The idea was to cross the themes of Palm Sunday with thoughts about the public reaction to the recent death of former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
News of the death of Malcolm Fraser has evoked a varied range of responses. In contrast to Gough Whitlam, who occupied a fixed position on the political and social spectrum, Mr Fraser has been considered to have changed his attitudes over the decades. Senator David Leyonhjelm’s characterisation that Mr Fraser “was a right-wing extremist when I first knew him and he was a left-wing extremist when he died” is blunt, but understandable to those of us who witnessed the fury expressed against him in the seventies and the esteem afforded to him in his later days, by pretty much the same people; along with the present day ambivalence of those who lauded his achievements in decades past.
This can be seen as tributes to Mr Fraser seem to be partitioned to acknowledge the times when his actions most closely aligned with the values of those speaking, while cordoning off the periods where principles diverged.
On the weekend many Christians will recall the celebrated arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. To mark his arrival the crowds laid down palm branches and sang out a welcome acknowledging him as sent by God. They recognised his riding a donkey as a fulfilment of a divine promise of a ruler who would arrive in peace, not conquest.
And yet, less than a week later, those same voices cried out in condemnation. They would be satisfied with nothing less than Jesus’ death.
It’s easy to understand the condemnation Jesus received by the political class, who would take no chances with one who they perceived may have been a threat to their power. In the same way, the religious class also desperately wanted to rid themselves of the one who threatened their positions as conduits to God.
But why the crowds? Why did those who would have crowned him at the beginning of the week cry out for crucifixion by its end?
Had Jesus changed his positions or attitudes during that week? Not in the slightest.
Jesus was rejected by the masses because he would not take up the sword and become a military conqueror; nor would he provide for them assurances that by either bloodline or effort that they were right with God.
Public opinion turned on Jesus because he would not be the political or spiritual saviour the people desired.
The Bible shows us, however, that he was the Saviour that the public needed.
It’s not so much that God’s salvation was not what people expected, as that the salvation God sent was rejected with extreme prejudice.
But, paradoxically, his condemnation and crucifixion were the means by which salvation was achieved.
Christians spend weeks each year in special focus on God’s achievement of redemption through the self same actions by which humanity was seeking to reject that salvation.
In doing so we celebrate a wisdom and love that overcame our rebellion and lostness. We give thanks that Jesus did not change to be what we wanted, but instead changes us to what we need to be.