Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week- the week that we pause and reflect on Jesus’ last days before Calvary, the tomb, and the Resurrection.
On Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, publicly proclaiming for the first time His identity as Messiah. We remember the people waving palm branches, and laying their cloaks on the road as He traveled.
We remember the people welcoming Him as their King, their Messiah, singing joyfully, “Hosanna! Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord!” The excitement, the worship, the triumph. The pharisees didn’t like it, but Jesus, knowing the enormity of this public announcement He was making told the pharisees that if the people were silent, the stones would cry out His praise!
It was a triumphant moment.
But then the glory of that moment turned to great sorrow. The Gospel of Luke tells us that after the glorious parade, Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept- literally, He burst into tears.
The thing that caused our Lord such sorrow was the spiritual blindness of the people of Jerusalem, and perhaps some were the same people who had just celebrated Him. Sadly, they lacked belief, not understanding who He truly was, and this, Jesus knew, would have grave consequences for them.
Throwing their coats on the ground as Jesus passed was a sign of submission to a King. Singing “Hosanna” in praise, was literally a cry of “Save us, now!”
But why did they? Luke says it was because of all the miracles they had seen (Luke 19:37).
I wonder… what about me?
It’s easy to toss my cloak on the ground, caught up in emotion and excitement as Jesus passes by. It’s much harder to deny myself and follow Him when the cost seems so high compared to my way of doing things.
It’s easy for me to cry out to Him, “Save me, now!” But if I’m honest, that cry is usually a prayer to be spared the consequences of my sins, rather than a cry to be delivered from the bondage of sin.
Jerusalem was being visited by the King of Kings- by the Incarnate God. They accepted Him as a great rabbi/teacher, as a miracle worker, not understanding that this visitation could bring great blessing or great judgment.
I ask myself, how often have I celebrated the great things He has done for me, without celebrating Him? How many times have I been overcome with gratitude for His gifts, without expressing great gratitude for the Giver?
Don’t I know what it feels like to be loved only for what I can offer, and not for who I am? I think that’s how Jesus felt in that moment, and He was grieved deeply- not for Himself, but for what the people were missing by refusing to live in relationship with Him. It was this missing relationship, this inability to truly know Him, that was the reason for His journey to Calvary.
Our God loves us deeply, lavishly, extravagantly, and unconditionally. We experience it everyday, yet, how do we love Him? Think about it, what can we do for Him? We can’t give Him anything that He hasn’t created. Even the very faith to believe in Him was given to us by Him.
All we can do is love Him. Not loving merely what He does, but Who He is. This love isn’t expressed in flowery words and beautiful hymns, but in humble, selfless, extravagant obedience. This is how we honor Him and lavish Him back with our love.
As I observe Holy Week this year, I want to love Him better. I pray He will teach me how.