Messages of Faith
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CURRENT MESSAGE: Managing Expectations
We’re used to seeing Palm Sunday as a day of great celebration, and indeed it was and is, but not for the reasons we usually think. We associate the day with Jesus being King and riding into Jerusalem with children waving palm branches in his honor. The Gospel story in fact tells a slightly different story. It tells a tale of great expectations and Hosannas on Sunday, and the jeers of ‘crucify him’ on Friday from some of the very same people!
It’s a sobering reminder about what happens to a group of people when you raise their expectations of triumph through the roof at the beginning of the week, and dash those hopes so thoroughly by the end of it. The crowds turned ugly and they willingly handed Jesus over to the Roman authorities for execution by crucifixion.
So, what accounts for this rapid turn of events? Expectations. When people are disappointed, especially when they are disappointed over something they have held dear for a very long time, they tend to lash out. The problem was, and is, that Jesus did not come to meet either our expectations or those of the Jewish people. He came to meet our needs. And that isn’t nearly the same thing.
He didn’t come to slay our foes and lift us high as a champion. He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for sin. That’s because the real root of the human predicament isn’t our political problems but our sin sickness. The problem is our hearts. As Jesus says in Mark 7:20-23, from out of the human heart comes war, adultery, murder, slander, and all manner of human misbehavior.
No one was looking for a crucified Messiah in Jesus’ day. But Jesus never intended to come as the kind of king that would run the Romans out of town. Jesus came to die on a cross for sin: even the sins of the enemies of Israel.
Even today we have a tough time understanding this. We tend to think force will be the final solution to our problems, but the last week of Jesus’ life tells us this isn’t so. We could win each and every battle with our political foes and still lose our souls.
Today, when we hear the loud Hosannas, and sing with joy about the coming of our true King, the Prince of Peace, we need to remember his words when he said: “if anyone would come after me, let them take up their cross and follow me”. And that means away from the cheering crowds, all the way to Golgotha.