And so it begins. This week of sorrows and the greatest triumph of all. Today, we waved the palm branches and heard the children sing hosannas just as they did when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. At that time, the disciples had no concept of what lay ahead for their Lord though Jesus had tried to tell them many times. Think with me for a moment what that day was like from Luke 19:28-44 .
Jesus had told his disciples to go and bring back a young colt for Him to ride upon. Everything happened just as the Lord had told them it would. They returned with the colt and threw their cloaks on it for the Lord to sit upon. Then, the disciples and crowd began to place their cloaks on the road that He might ride into the beloved City of David. Amid cheers and shouts of rejoicing which would have made most of us feel confident, Jesus wept for Jerusalem. He wept for the people who did not believe. He knew the cheering would soon turn to jeering. Instead of a golden crown worn by a king, He would wear the crown of thorns. And in His sorrow He spoke what would happen to this city. In verse 44b, He said: "And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation." This prophetic word was carried out when the Romans utterly destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him, and as He later told Pontius Pilate (recorded in John 18:37b), "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world - to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." But many would reject that truth and call for His destruction. What emotions must have been stirred in His heart seeing the children and crowds welcoming Him in triumph. Yet, Jesus knew the fickleness of the human heart.
At an earlier Passover celebration after Jesus had done many signs, people also believed in Him but the scripture teaches us in John 2:24-25 that man was not to be trusted: "But Jesus on His part did not entrust Himself to them because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man." He knew our sin nature. He knew that one minute we would sing hosanna and the next minute call for His death. From the foundation of the world, man's innate wickedness had proven itself over and over again. For this, Christ had come to set us free. He came to remove the sin that Adam had brought upon the human race. Those whom the Father would call would come and receive this amazing gift of salvation. First, however, He would be offered up as a sacrifice. This is what He knew would come to pass as He rode on the donkey into the gates of Jerusalem. So what can we learn from this story in scripture?
First, we must realize, as our Lord did, that momentary fame passes quickly as we walk in this world. We cannot entrust ourselves to the whims of man, but we can trust in the Lord who has a plan for our lives. Our primary goal should be to find out what God's plan is for our life. Serving Him and seeking His approval is what we must focus on. He will never disappoint us, but people and society as a whole will let us down.
Secondly, we must come to grips with the reality that the Christian life is not a smooth paved highway. There will be bumps, dips, and yes, even sink holes that will permeate our lives from time to time. If our Lord and Master had to face tribulation, we, His servants, will also have to walk through times of trial. The difference is that we have Christ living within us who will give us the strength to face whatever comes our way.
Finally, we know the end of this story that began with palm branches and hosannas. It did not end on the cross. The story continues with the resurrection and the defeat of death. Our Lord is alive! He is alive! And we who believe will live with Him forever! This is what our hosannas should be all about. Now, we must tell the story to others who have not heard or do not know this Jesus our Messiah.
And so it begins. This week of reflection, repentance, and rejoicing. Let us take each moment to thank God for the gift of His Son who died in our place to pay for our sins. He has broken the chains of sin and death. We are free to live for Him. Selah!
What does Palm Sunday and holy week mean to you? I would love to have your thoughts on what the Lord is showing you. Please leave a comment.