As we near the end of the season of Lent and prepare to remember all the events of Jesus’ last week leading to his crucifixion, we mark his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This year that falls on April 14. It is a strange kind of day with the rousing, parade-like atmosphere while lying beyond is the arrest, trial, and crucifixion. I saved a reading about Palm Sunday from a Word Alive! Bulletin cover a few years ago. I share it with you for reflection.
“The message of Palm Sunday seems full of contractions as we look back on it today. It was a day when great crowds cheered and praised God as Jesus rode peacefully into Jerusalem. How then could the Crucifixion be less than a week away? The people of Jerusalem were celebrating and proclaiming Jesus a king, and yet within only days they would be jeering and calling him names. What special meaning could this very intense event hold that Palm Sunday has become so sacred to us down through the ages?
The people of Jerusalem cheering alongside the road that day mostly saw in Jesus the arrival of the long-expected king they felt was promised from God to restore the earthly glory that had once been theirs. Because their expectations were focused on the establishment of an earthly kingdom, they were blind and deaf to the real message of Jesus. Palm Sunday, the final Sunday of Lent before Easter, calls us collectively as the church and individually as Christians, to examine our expectations before God. What do we see and hear in our hearts as the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem is again proclaimed?
Do our expectations, like theirs, focus on worldly visions of glory and grandeur, or do we hear the Lord’s call to submit our lives to God and spiritually journey with Jesus toward the Cross? Do we stubbornly expect God to provide us success in all we would choose to be about, or are we prayerfully seeking the Lord’s will and direction for our lives? Admittedly these are hard and demanding questions, but the call to honestly and truly examine our faith may well be the very thing that makes Palm Sunday so real and important to many who would seek to follow and serve Christ.”