We have worshipped and celebrated at our own community festival. We sang praises, waved branches, and watched a donkey and disciple struggle with the humble task of servanthood. We began to make the turn toward the cross and now we walk intentionally through this Holy Week. A huge celebration helping us to make our way into Jerusalem with Jesus.
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.
There is a great deal I do not understand about what I’m seeing in the present but sometimes it’s only in retrospect that we find clarity. Hindsight is 20/20, they say. I never really understood Palm Sunday as a child. I remember having these enormous worship services in my large downtown church. I remember hearing my parents sing the Easter portion of “The Messiah,” “The Holy City,” or “Ride on King Jesus” complete with orchestra and a 100-voice choir. It was a tremendous celebration with palms and children, a parade to beat all parades. But as an adult, looking back at scripture, I now understand how much I needed Jesus to ride into my heart.
Jesus, Savior, Messiah, Son of God, choosing a donkey, a humble colt to ride on. No mighty white horse, with a King’s crown or warrior sword. No prestigious people moving the riff raff out of the way. The streets were lined with ordinary people and children, probably poor and working class, faithful followers standing in the streets to lay down their coats and branches. They were hoping for a King of a new empire to rule with equity on their behalf. No timpani’s, no drum lines, no large choirs or marching bands. Just ordinary people yearning for freedom and fairness, for justice and to be remembered by their God. For the Jesus who had been healing, teaching, feeding 1000’s and bringing hope to life, to come and take his place on the throne.
But now we watch understanding he came to be a different kind of King. Not king of a city, but King of our hearts, of this world. We receive all of those things, but it comes not out of might or ruling, but through the glimpses of the Kingdom yet to come, the reign of love yet to be. The throne he took was a cross, the crown was one of thorns.
The palms we wave today become the ashes we place on our foreheads next year. Because at some point, we all move from our place as parade goers, to the crowd who wants Jesus to do things our way. But our way doesn’t always win. Our love sometimes fails. Looking back, we can see that, but we can also see the way Jesus will take us this week, will be the way love forever wins.
Holy God, help us to lay down our branches to have hands free to receive bread, cup, cross and love. Help us to follow each day, watching where you go and hearing what you say. May the time spent with Jesus in Jerusalem, help us look back at how we have needed him to be our King, and how his love has never failed us. May we trust in you and walk as closely as we can. Amen.