We just celebrated Palm Sunday, the commemoration of Jesus’ big entry into Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day basically all of Israel was expected to leave their homes to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem (not unlike how it seemed all of Iowa migrated to Pasadena this winter to celebrate the Hawkeyes playing in the Rose Bowl). Jerusalem was thusly swelled beyond capacity by people from throughout Israel and the Jewish diaspora, and many seemed to have an opinion about the young phenom rabbi from Nazareth, Jesus. A large portion of the people cheered his entry into the city, seeing him as the new King that would rid Israel of Roman occupation, thusly improving their lives by removing unfair taxation, unjust laws, and foreign rule. They waved palm branches, a sign of victory, believing Jesus would soon bring tangible improvement to their daily lives. Others, namely the religious leaders, treated his entry with great disdain. They not only disagreed with his teachings, scripture interpretations, and actions, but were distraught by the mere thought of him replacing them in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people. They could not stomach the idea of this Jesus challenging their authority, and they really couldn’t stand his calling out of their own pride and hypocrisy. Then there were those completely confused by Jesus’ entry: his disciples. They could not comprehend why he would humbly enter on a donkey, why he resisted becoming king, nor why he would think death was any kind of an answer to the world’s problems. They wanted him to keep performing miracles and preaching with his tremendous parables, not to die on a cross like a criminal.
Here’s an interesting thing about every character in the Palm Sunday account: they all behaved rather poorly when Jesus’ entry did not fulfill their desires. The crowd ended up turning on him, demanding his death instead of that of the criminal Barabbas. The religious leaders plotted his death, begging the governor to crucify him. And his beloved disciples? One betrayed Him, one denied Him, at least one doubted Him, and all failed to understand Him.
Here is my question for you this Holy Week. How have you reacted to Jesus coming into your life? That’s a pretty serious question. Have you, like those on that Palm Sunday, chosen to focus on what Jesus seemingly can or cannot do for you, instead of focusing on the fact that He has saved you for all eternity? I think most of us have done just that. We fail to joyously celebrate Jesus’ grace for us, preferring to whine and wallow about the perceived imperfections of our lives. This Easter I urge you to wrap your arms tightly around God’s gift of grace and to never let it go. Let your joy in life, even in the darkest of moments, permeate from knowing Christ has saved you on the cross. Don’t miss the greatest aspect of Christ coming into your life: the gift of a perfect eternal life in Heaven.