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Peters: To truly commit to Jesus, we must understand his sacrifice and his love

Palm Sunday marks Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week. All of Jesus’s teachings culminate in this week, and we experience both the greatest and lowest moments in only a short period of time.

In the Gospel, we read of how a massive crowd of Christ’s followers openly comes out to praise God and declare him to be king. The Pharisees, of course, are quick to decry them all, wanting nothing to do with God’s plan of salvation. In Luke 19:40, Jesus replies, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

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This is a moment that cannot be stopped. Christ must enter Jerusalem as the glorious king, he must die as the Pascal sacrifice, and he must rise again to save us all from death. All events in human history led up to it, and there is no moment that could ever rival its importance. It is the fulfillment of the covenant, the promise of salvation. And yet, not everyone cared or understood.

Just as then, there are two sides before us: those who will risk everything to follow Christ and those who will deny Him to retain their power in society. We must make the choice before we can precede forward. Everything in Lent to now is about preparing our bodies, our minds, and our souls to make a choice, and now we must commit.

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How can we truly commit unless we fully understood his sacrifice? How can we truly commit unless we fully understand his love?

To help us prepare, there is one more addition. Palm Sunday comes with two Gospel readings, and the second describes the Passion, from the Last Supper to the Crucifixion. We are brought into those final moments, the suffering and the pain, to remind us just how much Christ loves us.

We cannot be ready for the joy without recognizing the pain. We cannot be ready for the resurrection without understanding the death.

We, at the beginning of time and throughout our lives, sin. We are imperfect. We are flawed. We act selfishly. We spread hate.

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Yet we were created for something more. Although God punishes us for our sins, those punishments are the results of our sin. It is our crime, and we deserve to be punished, and yet God loves us anyway.

Christ is God, yet Christ came down and was born of woman because he loves us. He suffered as we suffer, but he did not deserve to suffer. He died as we die, but he did not deserve to die. He did all of this because he loves us.

He took the punishment of our sins unto himself to show us that there was a greater way. He went to Jerusalem knowing that it was filled with the Pharisees and the doubters and the betrayers. He went to Jerusalem knowing that he would die.

He did all of this for us, and now is the time we must embrace him fully and commit to a life with Christ, a life with love.

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