I saw and heard on television, in New York a procession of doctors heading in to work in a hospital; and in all the apartments overlooking and on the sidewalks around spectators cheering and applauding them. It was absolutely remarkable. And it was right -- right to do and right to recognize them.
I then heard a description saying that these are the soldiers marching into battle. They go to fight a disease,and as they do so they are putting their lives at risk. In fact some of them will lay down their lives. It touches us because it is the best and the greatest part of our nature. And it touches us because the pattern is one we know. We have seen through the years acts of nobility and sacrifice -- acts that go completely against the urge for self preservation; and speak instead of the call to help the weak, rescue the helpless, and care for the vulnerable. We recognize that pattern. There are great books built around it; and one series in particular that many in school have read (all 7 books culminating in "The Deathly Hallows" where the hero goes to lay down his life).
We recognize the pattern and in this time of the year our hearts and minds cannot help but hear it calling us once again. It is the man going up to Jerusalem where he knew he would have to suffer. He was marching into battle -- not putting his life "at risk" because it was not a risk. It was a certainty that he would die. And he rode into Jerusalem.
There were the cheering crowds, but it was not about the cheers. There were the healings and the teaching, but it was not about miracles or gathering students. There was a battle to be fought, suffering to endure, dying to be done, sacrifice and atonement to be made, forgiveness to be gained, and death and hell to defeat.
No one who is not on the front lines in the hospitals right now can really understand. Vigilance and carefulness have to be constant. If they are lacking there could be sickness or death. Which brings up the third very striking image -- a group of medical workers who went up on the roof to pray, for themselves, their patients and every doctor and nurse in the hospital floors underneath.
To whom else do we turn in times when we see danger and nobility? To whom else can we turn when the pattern we see all around us reminds us so powerfully of the Lamb of God, who went up to Jerusalem in order to lay down His life for us, "who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made Himself nothing taking on the form of a servant ... And ... humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross ..." (Philippians 2:5-11) This is why He was riding into Jerusalem.
The cross of Jesus resets the whole creation, putting the pattern of the cross into every part of life. It ennobles everything where echoes and images of the cross have become part of the pattern of life. Deep down we know the truth of this, and we admire every example we see that reminds us of the cross, the central image of the love of God. That is part of the meaning of the words, "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow". (Philippians 2:10)
Today we honor and we pray for doctors, nurses, all medical workers and every other person who carries that image of God.
Lord Jesus, as You rode into Jerusalem You were going to win my salvation and set me free. You knew You were going to suffering and death in my place. Help me to see the pattern of Your life in those I see all around who are right now risking everything to save the lives of their neighbors. Bless and protect each doctor, each nurse and all others who are living the pattern of Your love. Amen.