The Passion According to Saint Luke
Try to imagine yourself as an educated member of the Roman Empire reading Luke’s account of the birth, life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, and at the end asking Luke: ‘If all that you write is true about the character and the behaviour and teaching of this good man who claimed to be a prophet of his god, how do you explain his death as a criminal condemned and crucified by the local Roman authorities?’ We can consider Luke setting himself the task of answering this question as he wrote for Gentiles the concluding section of his gospel, which described the arrest, trial and execution of his divine Master. The Passion According to Saint Luke is the reading for this coming Sunday, the final Sunday of Lent, which is called Palm Sunday and is the beginning of Holy Week in which we are invited to reflect on and pray about the painful death that Our Lord accepted.
Each of the four gospels contains a major concluding section devoted to describing the arrest, trial and execution of Jesus in Jerusalem, in which all follow roughly the same structure and chronology, differing only in minor details. It is thought, in fact, that the gospels all started simply as accounts of the Passion and Death of Jesus written down for the benefit of preachers and adult converts to Christianity, and that these in time were expanded by adding introductory sections to describe the teaching and deeds of Jesus in his public life leading up to his death. All of the gospels begin their Passion section by describing the final triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday.