The Sunday before Easter and the beginning of the Holy Week is Palm Sunday, also known as the Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. In the Gospel of Mark the event is described this way: “Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:7-10)
So, what happened? Within just a few days the jubilant blessings of “Hosanna” had turned to blood-seeking cries of “Crucify Him”. We find this same Jesus… once celebrated and revered by large crowds, now hanging on a cross, with only his mother and a few close followers there on his behalf. Where did everybody go?
I’m sure that most of his closest followers were in hiding, afraid to share Jesus’ cruel punishment. But, I suspect that others who were one time followers of Jesus had turned away because he did not meet their expectations. You see, the Jews knew the scriptures and prophesy well…and were anticipating a messiah who was an earthly king, like King David, who would come restore the temple and rescue them from Roman oppression. Jesus was indeed there to do those things, just not in the way they expected. The heavenly Kingdom Jesus came to deliver was far greater than they would ever have imagined. And, Since Jesus, did not match their narrow definition of the Messiah, they missed out on him entirely.
I fear that many of us are still missing the Messiah today because of our false expectations. Do we really understand just how good the Good News is? Do we follow him because we believe doing so will make our lives easier, or do we recognize that we will each have to take up our own cross? Are we asking Him to build our own, personal kingdoms or are we looking for opportunities to build his? As we wave our palm fronds this Sunday, I pray that we do it with a real and deep understanding of who it is that we worship and what His death, resurrection and coming Kingdom mean for all of humanity.