In the readings for Palm Sunday, Jesus rides into Jerusalem triumphantly. The people hailed Him as the Messiah but by the end of the week He hadn’t lived up to what they wanted, expected, even demanded of their Messiah. Then they turned Him out, handed Him over to the enemy and had Him murdered.
But Palm Sunday isn’t about re-creating history. It’s not intended to be a simple re-enactment to teach a lesson that needs to be re-taught year after year. It’s meant to be a new experience every year. It’s real, new, and happening now in the present, not the past.
So many times in my life, I have welcomed Jesus as Lord and Savior. The great Messiah has come to set me free and save me in my distress. Yes, it’s the “knight-in-shining-armor” Jesus for me. But before too long I realize that Jesus doesn’t come on a white horse to rescue me and He isn’t wielding some magic wand to poof away my troubles. He has granted miracles in my life but they are not every day occurrences, nor are they meant to be. And when He doesn’t instantly provide relief from my struggles, I often grow disenchanted, even sulky. Jesus isn’t living up to my expectations. I had accepted the relationship that He so freely offered but now I want to renegotiate that relationship on my terms. For me this is what it means to be a “spiritual spoiled brat”.
How quickly I will turn my back, deny, and even betray His love for me. Once again I hand Him over to be nailed to the cross of my sins. But once again, He is willing to accept me and forgive me in my ignorance and brokenness. Having been fully human, He understands my failings and forgives me, even when I would condemn myself.
Year after year, Palm Sunday reminds me of my rejection of His love. But the important thing for me to remember is that the story doesn’t end on Palm Sunday. This is just the beginning of Holy Week. This is a time set aside to reflect on Jesus’ great act of love and forgiveness that culminates on the glorious Easter morning in His triumph over sin and even death itself. Palm Sunday is not a call to condemnation, but an invitation to examine my deepest relationship with Jesus. It’s a chance to take time out of my crazy life to look at all the glorious moments of true connectedness during the past year but also to look at all the saddest, darkest moments of doubt and betrayal. It’s an invitation to journey through all of Holy Week and to be reminded again of Jesus’ amazing, unfailing love for me.
The rituals of Holy Week are a guide for me to walk through those darker moments, not to remain stuck in the darkness, but to break through into the light of His love, again. Some times those will be big, dramatic soul-flooding breakthroughs. But most years, it will be in small quiet revelations that could easily be missed if I didn’t take the time out from life’s insanity to look for them.
So what’s the big deal about Palm Sunday? Nothing – unless it’s part of the journey of Holy Week.
May God bless you this week, however you choose to journey with Him.
Peace & Blessings,