We were in Omaha this weekend, and for Palm Sunday we decided to attend a service at our old church. The sermon was on Jesus’ ‘triumphal entry’ into Jerusalem. I have read and reread and rereread that Gospel passage, so much that I hardly need to read it–but I’d forgotten something that the pastor pointed out: when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that donkey, everyone was waving palms and shouting “Hosanna!” (translation: “Save!”)…but Jesus was weeping. Weeping. Not waving, throwing candy and admiring the adoring crowd. The Gospel says (Luke 19) that Jesus saw Jerusalem and wept over the city. “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.” The crowds wanted someone to deliver them from the Romans, but Jesus wasn’t that man. A week later, most of the people in those crowds were calling for His death, screaming, “Crucify him!” That just breaks my heart–the fickleness of the people, and how they were so fixated on being liberated from the Romans that they neglected their own souls. They were blind to what Jesus was trying to show them.
Another thing that I heard that was interesting was that Palm Sunday falls during Passover, and that particular day was called “Lamb Selection Day”. Interesting parallel. Jesus was selecting Himself to die as atonement for the sins of all people….the sacrifical Passover Lamb. It was on that day, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, that the Jewish leaders decided to kill him. They, too, selected their lamb.
Last week, a man who was a Jehovah’s Witness came to my door to invite me to their celebration of Jesus’ death. The flyer said “find out why He was the most important man who ever lived.” It’s so sad to me–the key to the whole thing is that Jesus rose from the dead! Instead, this man celebrates his death. How anticlimactic. He beat death so that we can. That’s the whole hopeful point! Michael pointed out to me that C.S. Lewis said that, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
I love the dichotomy of Jesus’ humility and omnipotence. His humility draws me closer to His face….His power keeps me in awe. A “victor in the midst of strife.” Triumphal, indeed!
Sunday morning we sang the hymn below, and it hit me – I am like those crowds, sometimes. This is my prayer this Holy Week:
“Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it!
Prone to leave the God I love!
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.”