Greetings all, here is your e-votional for Palm Sunday weekend…
“As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’ Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.'”-Luke 19: 37-40
Palm Sunday is a tricky one. Since it’s now baseball season, indulge me in this analogy. Your team has been trailing the entire game but by the top of the 9th they have climbed back into contention. Then, with two outs, they club a 3 run home run to cap their improbable comeback and take a 2 run lead. You are euphoric. “What a game,” you think to yourself, “that was incredible!” Then, in the bottom of the 9th, your opponents, who trail now for the first time all night, load the bases and hit a grand slam to win it off your best reliever. That’s Palm Sunday. It looks great, but it’s a false positive. It’s not the winning hit. It’s not the clinching run. It’s not the culmination of the comeback.
It is, in fact, another reminder that in this world the underdog usually loses in the end. Jesus marched into Jerusalem a king. The disciples cheered and hooted as he made his way down the hill from the Mount of Olives and toward one of Jerusalem’s many gates. He was coming to claim his kingdom. This was the moment for which everyone had waited. This was the promised victory.
Except that we all know it wasn’t. It looked so much like a changing of the guard that the Pharisees panicked, likely trying to silence Jesus to prevent an uprising or Roman retaliation for a perceived threat. They needn’t have worried. This would be yet another rally that fell short. The adoring crowds would bail, the home team would win. Again.
We always celebrate Palm Sunday as if Easter comes next, and it doesn’t. Easter doesn’t come next. Prior to Easter comes betrayal, torment and death. Palm Sunday wasn’t THE win. It is a good reminder that in this life of faith we are never promised everything will work out for us. We all have our share of Palm Sundays; moments which seem like a win to us but ultimately are revealed as a false positive. They can be disheartening. They can make us question our faith. Those moments when defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory are the hardest to take.
As we prepare to make Palm Sunday this weekend, don’t be too hasty to leap to Easter, but remember instead that the life of faith, and life itself, are not always a straight line. Our lives are roller coasters of wins and losses, joy and sorrow. We don’t need to deny it or flee from it, but rather we ought to remember that even in these moments God is present. Even as we await the promises of Easter Sunday to be reaffirmed in our lives, we do so as people who remember that even our best days can point to something still greater.
Prayer: Holy God, we thank you for the blessing of your son Jesus Christ and the joy he has brought into our lives. We thank you for the gift of Palm Sunday and we ask that as we shout Hosanna this weekend that we would remember that our lives belong ultimately to you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.