Each of the four Gospels’ depictions of the first encounter with the resurrected Christ suggests a different lens for perceiving the risen one. In Matthew, Christ’s resurrection looks like a theophany—earthquake and blazing light—and Christ appears suddenly and vividly to disciples on the run and on the mountain. In Luke, the risen Christ is first encountered as a peripatetic teacher and finally recognized in the breaking of bread. Mark apparently included no straightforward account of the risen Christ at all.
And in the Gospel of John, Christ rises from the ground in a springtime garden.
Luke describes Jesus riding heroically into Jerusalem on Palm/Passion Sunday. According to archetypal imagery, is Jesus riding to heroic victory or tragic defeat?
Luke offers hints along the way that the trajectory between Palm Sunday and Good Friday is something other than utter failure, but they’re subtle hints: Jesus claims the authority to pardon even as he himself is hanging on the executioner’s cross; as he dies, he continues to discuss his kingdom and paradise.
Some preachers complain about the Palm Sunday lectionary, which puts together the “palm” and the “passion” Gospel texts. One complaint relates to dissonance: it’s not easy to pair a celebratory parade with a trial and execution. Another complaint concerns scope: there is too much theological ground to cover and too much liturgical time required.