I am still in the throes of wedding planning and feeling exhausted. I’m republishing this post from last year’s Palm Sunday reflection because I think it’s still relevant.
Then the blind and the lame came to the temple, and Jesus healed them. Rings of children circled round and sang, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’ But the priests and scribes didn’t understand. When they saw the upturned tables, the walking paralytics, and the singing children, they were shocked, indignant, and angry, and they did not understand. –Matthew 21:14-15
The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem a week before his crucifixion creates a stark contrast to the events later in the week. Healings, children singing, the powerful called-out on how they treat people. What’s not to love? I suppose it depends on your point of view. To the ones healed, released from the torments of a dictatorial religious system, and the children who saw an opportunity to play in the temple area, they rejoiced and basked in their new-found freedom. To the religious leaders who felt their power and control endangered, I doubt they felt the same exaltation.
The religious leaders needed to find an opportunity and fast to get the focus off Jesus and his message of freedom from shame, forgiveness and equal standing with God. They will do whatever it takes to save their power and control … of course, for God’s glory …. Underlying the victorious celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem is the sinister plotting of those who fear losing their hierarchical standing with people and God.
Holy Week brings a sacred focus on Jesus’ passion, his suffering. God offers us a front-row seat showing us the lengths He’s willing to go to in order for us to know His true character of forgiveness, compassion and power–He will do whatever it takes for us to understand He uses His power and authority not to shame or create a king-of-the-hill game between all of us, but to level the playing field and bring liberty from unbearable life systems that crush the spirit.
The difference between the two attitudes of ‘whatever it takes’ challenges my own soul. Do I have the attitude of sacrificing myself to see freedom come to others? Or do I have the attitude of sacrificing others to ensure my own status? Meditating through Lent on Jesus’ life convicts me of my selfishness and self-absorbed comfort. My prayer has become that as we get closer to Good Friday, I will see my own narcissism and desire for status crucified on the cross with Jesus. As I reflect on Jesus’ last days and see the fickleness of humanity–one moment giving him glory, the next calling for his death–I clearly see my own changeableness and am humbled.
Jesus’ disciples must have relished His entry into Jerusalem. They sat at the top of the heap of this bold leader who exposed the arrogant rulers and elevated the oppressed. They probably celebrated, cheered and sang with the children and the ones healed. They exalted in the dawn of a new day where God would finally reign on earth and overthrow the evil governments! The day Israel had waited for since Abraham. This triumphal entry would prove to all their doubters and bullies that they truly were God’s chosen people!
But they soon would find out that wasn’t God’s point in the story ….
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