This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter are all here at last. In this week’s blog, I want us to revisit the story that we celebrate every year on the Sunday before Easter.
If you’re reading this, you probably are familiar with the story. We have all seen the flannelgraph of people waving palm branches and laying their cloaks on the ground before Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. You’ve heard that they shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (v.38)
And each year, you are reminded that the same people who were singing His praises as He entered Jerusalem would be shouting curses at Him only five days later.
Every time I read this story in Luke, I wonder how this transition came about. How did those who were praising Jesus transition into calling for His death in the same week? They were looking for salvation! They were looking for a Savior! And when they finally got one, they killed Him. What’s the problem? What happened between Sunday and Friday?
The problem is simple: The Jews were looking for the wrong kind of salvation.
At this point in history, the Jews were in a kind of exile. They were under Gentile rule. The Romans were ruling over them, and their hope had been that the Lord would deliver them a king that would march into town and take their freedom back. They were looking for salvation from their exile.
So when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, they thought “This is it! Finally we have a savior! Finally God has sent someone to break us from the rule of the Romans!” So they shouted His praises! They were excited for the exodus that was surely upon them. But by the end of the week, it was clear that this was not the kind of salvation that Jesus had in mind. His salvation wasn’t political, or social, or even physical. He brought to them something that no other king could have given them: A spiritual salvation.
They wanted a ruler, but what they got was a blasphemer. (At least in their eyes.) They wanted a revolutionist, and what they got was a bloodied man in Roman custody, rejected by their own leaders, and nailed to a cross between two criminals.
Today, I can’t help but wonder: Are we just like those in Jerusalem?
When we pray or sing the praises of God, are we expecting a salvation from the exile we are facing? Are we expecting God to change our situation, to make our lives better, or to bring into our society our version of a “good” world? Do we expect the wrong kind of salvation?
If we were to put ourselves in the shoes of the Jews, would we have acted any different? I would hope that I would be fighting for Jesus, shouting “No! He’s the Savior! Don’t do this!” But in reality, I think it’s more likely that the words of the hymn would ring true: “ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.”
There comes a point in everyone’s walk of faith that they must come to terms with the fact that being a Christian doesn’t mean that their life is going to be easy. And it doesn’t even necessarily mean that their life is going to be good. And when we are faced with this reality, we have a decision to make: Are we going to keep on believing that God is going to one day rescue us from our circumstances, or do we accept that our view of salvation may not be what God has in store for us? Do we accept that being a Christian may mean finding joy in the Lord despite our circumstances? Being a Christian doesn’t bring us salvation from our circumstances. Instead, it brings us salvation from our sins. God never promised us that we wouldn’t face exile or tribulation, but He did promise us that He would walk with us through it.
This week, I want you to really examine your view of God. As we proclaim Jesus as the King of kings, what kind of salvation are we expecting?
Hunter, Creative Arts Director