Today is Palm Sunday, and I don’t get it.
I don’t really get what we’re celebrating, really, or why we’re following the example of the people who didn’t get it. As we read the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, we see that the people waving palm branches and singing to celebrate Jesus’ coming had no clue what they were actually cheering for.
Those people, that day, understood nothing but were right about everything.
They celebrated the reign of a new king.
They celebrated the arrival of the messiah, as prophesied.
They celebrated, because, from that day on, everything would be different.
And everything was.
But it was also no different from any other Sunday before or since.
They were still oppressed by the Romans.
They were still waiting to be made whole.
They still slogged through days suffocated by desert heat, driven by hunger and thirst, and capped by the bedtime knowledge that tomorrow would be exactly the same.
Its hard to put myself in that moment of triumph when Jesus comes through the gate. I’m not falling for it. I can’t play along because I know how the rest of the week is going to play out for the Guy on that little donkey.
All the singing and all the cheering doesn’t change that
there is still a lot of dying to do this week.
They, the cheering ones, don’t know that they’re banking on someone whose death-row ticket has been fast-tracked. They don’t know that come Friday, they’re going to be left bereft and bewildered.
But on that day, they will get everything they ever wanted.
And most of them will have missed it.
Forget it. Hand me a palm frond. Let me join in. I am just like these people.
I sit at the gate and watch for God and wave my giant frond–each blade an expectation for who God will be, how He’ll look, and what He’ll do for me. I wave my expectations boldly, like I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m seeing.
And in part, I’m right. I do see God on the move.
But I’m cheering for the wrong reasons. I’m not cheering because I have seen a hope-restoring reminder of things to come. I’m cheering because I think I’ve finally gotten what I wanted. I am cheering because I think I know how the rest of the week will play out.
I know that there are promises–plans, even, to give me hope and a future, and I have that right.
The problem is that I have filled in my own fine print. You see, the promise of a good plan, the promise of a real savior, the promises of Love, Peace, and Freedom weren’t enough for me. They didn’t feel real unless they had details. So I deduced my own. I drew conclusions based on my inventory of my broken places and my circumstances. I did the “math” on what kind of “fruit” my “obedience” was supposed to produce.
When God comes, He will look like this. And He’ll do this.
Not four days after I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on things am I, too, left bereft and bewildered at how it all actually turned out. My Hope gets denied, betrayed, and arrested. My hope, the one built on those details, gets sentenced to death in the middle of the night.
Just because I know all the prophecies and promises doesn’t mean I have a clue what is going on.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
So I set this Palm frond on the ground. I let the Guy on the little donkey–the Guy who’s weeping for the City that still doesn’t get it, the guy who brought Lazarus back to life yesterday–I lay out the expectations so He and his donkey can trample the leaves.
So that nothing blocks my view and I can see Him in all his Glory.
So that I can see His Glory for the mystery that it is.
So that I can see that the Guy on the little donkey is a King–a King who is come to do exactly what He said He would do, only in His time, and in His way.
And so that I have my hands free to receive
more than I could have ever asked or imagined.