I had just come down from the hills where I’d spent a couple of days deepening my relationship with God through silence, meditation, worship and community. My heart was tender and I felt grateful for the opportunity to reset, refocus, and realign my priorities. Maybe that’s why it was so jarring to encounter an individual who definitely had NOT just come down from the hills wearing a retreat glow!
Exiting the highway to get something to drink, I realized my purse was in the back of the car and I wasn’t thirsty enough to pull over and get it out. So I made a legal U-turn to just head back to the highway, and immediately had to slow down because the car in front me was driving slower than expected, while at the same time a small white truck was barreling up behind me at an excessive rate of speed. (Get the picture?)
From the rearview mirror, I watched as the truck raced up behind me, stopped inches from my rear bumper and proceeded to lay on his horn for the entire duration of the red light that we were now waiting on. Honestly, my first thought was, “This guy is really, really mad! Like, I wonder what’s going on with him that he is raging at me when he was driving way too fast in the first place?
As his horn kept blaring (seriously….he didn’t let up) I wasn’t angry or afraid – just curious about who this guy was, why he was so furious and how odd it was we were in such opposite emotional places, sharing the same road.
I’ve always been curious about the crowds that cheered for Jesus as he rode through the streets of Jerusalem. Their shouts of “Hosanna!” can be interpreted as a cry for nationalism and rebellion against Roman rule, and it can also be a true recognition of the person of Jesus who by now had caused quite a stir for doing miracles, including the recent raising of Lazarus from the dead. Truth is, the crowd was likely a combination of both Passover pilgrims and others who had seen first-hand the power of Jesus of Nazareth.
What we do know is that in just a few short days, no matter why they were celebrating Jesus, his own people’s allegiance and curiosity would take a dramatic turn, and shouts of “Hosanna!” would become the unthinkable and rage-filled demand that he be unjustly and brutally crucified….
I’ve always loved Palm Sunday – it’s a palm-waving, song-lifting, praise-filled opportunity to get to say in all truth, that we truly know who Jesus is….he is the Son of the Most High God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! What’s not to love about that?
And…..it always makes me a little sad at the same time, as I think of how fickle this crowd was and that Jesus knew they were. He was fully aware that the accolades were temporary, and the shouts of loyalty and dedication were short-lived and lifeless. He wasn’t the king they expected at all, but he was still committed to be the savior-king they so desperately needed.
I wonder if that’s why Palm Sunday always has a tinge of sadness around the edges for me? Even though I love and appreciate what Jesus has done for me, and know I could never, ever repay him for this gift of life, I also know there have been times when my own “Hosanna!” has turned to “Why?” and “How could you?” and “When will you?”
If only it was as easy to recognize my own moments of trying to make Jesus into who I think he should be rather that resting in his true power and authority! But even in those times, Jesus always, faithfully remains unshakable, is always for me and patiently waits for me to calm down until I can hear his heart quietly but deeply say to mine, “I’m still here….I always have been….I always will be….and you are mine.”
We all can lose sight of the fundamental truth and peace we have available to us through Jesus – my road-rage friend and I aren’t really all that different in this way. But what matters most is that no matter what state our heart happens to be in at any given moment in time, whether we are filled to the brim with grace and glowing from time spent with God or having a really bad day full of frustration and anger – Holy Week is for us all, as it leads us to the foot of the cross and into the empty tomb.
Jesus may not always show up in the way we expect, but he always meets us where we desperately need him to.
As we enter into this last week of Lent together, let’s lean into that truth!
Grace and Love,