Isaiah 43:16-21 Psalm 126 Philippians 3:4b-14
As the season of Lent takes us closer to the death and resurrection of Jesus, today’s texts sound different and distinctive notes. The Old Testament reading and the psalm proclaim, look forward to, and pray for God’s salvation of the people. The mood is joyful. The New Testament readings are not so clear. Paul’s letter to the Philippians announces the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ, affirming his faith in the resurrection, and – with a note of warning – calling for his readers to press on with him and hold true. In the Gospel, we see Mary’s love for her Lord, but also a foreshadowing of Judas’ treachery and the death of Jesus.
The pilgrimage toward Easter has taken us almost to Palm Sunday, which is next Sunday. It is so appropriate that we come to it with a Gospel message that prompts us to think of Jesus preparing for death. Previously in John 11, we experience the death and raising of Lazarus. And it is this event that precipitates the plot against Jesus’ life. The story seems to be about the death and raising of Lazarus, but just beneath the surface we see the deeper subject – the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. Next Sunday we will hear the “Hosannas”. We know what is to happen, but the disciples do not. A similar anointing story also appears in Matthew and Mark. Matthew