The Last Week by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg can be a very helpful book for preachers during Holy Week, but it is only helpful to a point. Crossan and Borg, as leading scholars in the Jesus Seminar, approach their text with certain HUGE assumptions that the vast majority of Christians, no matter their tradition, just can’t fully get behind. While their scholarly understanding of the socio-political climate in 1st century Palestine is really helpful in understanding just what the events of that week did and did not do to bring Jesus to his Friday afternoon death on a cross, their total denial of all things supernatural means that they miss a whole lot of what is going on behind the scenes.
For example, as best I can tell from my own memory and from a Google Books search, there is no mention of Lazarus in The Last Week. It seems as though his resurrection from the dead, coupled with John 11:53, “So from that day on they planned to put him to death,” are too hard to justify, so they seem to ignore it instead.
Another instance of ignoring the supernatural comes in the story of Palm Sunday. We’ll hear Luke’s version during the Liturgy of the Palms, this Sunday, which includes a quirky little back and forth between Jesus and the Pharisees. “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.'”
I’ve never heard a sermon on this short interaction, but it might prove an interesting entree’ into Holy Week. As socio-political forces were ramping up toward Jesus’ death, so too was that fine line between the eternal and the temporal being blurred. It’ll get fuzzier and fuzzier, the difference between the here and now and the God’s divine Kingdom, as the week goes on, but our first taste of it comes from the lips of Jesus, “the stones would shout out.” Politics puts Jesus on the cross, but it isn’t just politics. A cosmic battle is fixin’ to unfold, and the tension is mounting as Jesus rides a donkey through the East Gate that fateful Sunday afternoon.