Celebration of Palms, Day 3 of 8. Tuesday.
I rushed down to the pier area of San Clemente because the sky looked brilliant. There is only a small window of time between when the clouds turn orange, then red, then purple, then die and turn grey. I arrived just as the oranges started. With digital cameras you can change the ISO on the fly and hand-hold and still get a clear image. But with film, you had one speed of film in the body (I exclusively used 100 ISO), and needed a tripod if you wanted a clear image. This is a day I was glad I had my tripod. It was the perfect mix of all the colors of dusk. A photographers dream sunset.
The palm stands alone starkly in contrast to the brilliant background. During Holy Week events in Jesus day, Tuesday was a day of verbal clashes. The religious leaders tried to entrap Jesus so they could arrest Him. On four subjects they tried to catch Him saying something just off enough to bring Him down. The leaders questioned His authority, asked whether they should pay taxes, whether there would be marriage in the afterlife, and what is the greatest commandment. Jesus answers to each subject amazed the crowd and silenced the critics. At the end, in Matthew 22:46, it says, “No one dared to ask Him any more questions.” Jesus also spoke a couple of stories where the interpretation isn’t exactly obvious that came down on the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. They were torqued by all this verbal affront.
This is the beauty of this day, and the person of Jesus. He knew the religious leaders were trying to trick Him. They knew Jesus was speaking against them. He was amidst a crowd who was hanging on His every word and was astonished at the things He said. The leaders were afraid of the crowd because they respected the teaching of the “rabbi” from Galilee. It was a riot ripe for explosion. And in all of it, Jesus stuck to His guns and His principles, and spoke truth, confronting as it was. He stood alone, starkly in contrast to the religious jargon and belief that the religious leaders were spinning. A palm tree does that—it stands firm in spite of wind and weather. It may bend and bow, but rarely breaks. This is a strength of the date and coconut palm: flexes but remains. We can admire that about Jesus. He shows His stout constitution yet also shows compassion and kindness. You don’t expect to see both sides in a person. So it’s also something we can aspire to: being resolute but also gentle and kind.
So I shall be naming Tuesday of Passion Week Confrontation Tuesday. Jesus standing alone against the tide of religious hypocrisy.
Photo by Mick Haupt | Shot on slide film, Canon A2 | San Clemente, CA