Are Peeps the Best Easter Candy?
Easter is just around the corner! Be sure to look below for our special announcements concerning Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!
This Sunday is Palm Sunday – the Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, while people laid palm branches on the ground in front of him, singing, “Hosanna to the son of David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Hosanna is a Jewish term that means “please save” – it had come to be a joyful exclamation that God did and also would save his people. It was especially employed around the Passover Feast.)
It’s easy to get harsh on the crowd when we look back on the events that would unfold over the next week. The same Jesus who was welcomed to the city as a hero king would be handed over to Rome, the despised ruling power over Jerusalem, to be crucified just five days later. Cries of “Hosanna!” turned to cries of “Crucify!”
It would be overly simplistic to think that everyone who was in the joyful crowd on Palm Sunday was also in the angry crowd on Good Friday. Jesus didn’t just have the 12 disciples – he speaks of a group of 70 and another of 120. When he spoke, he had at points between 5,000 and 10,000 listeners. So, we know he had at least 120 and possibly several thousand who considered themselves active disciples of Jesus. So, to be fair, we need to note that Palm Sunday and Good Friday may have been, in fact, totally different groups of people.
Now, having said that, both the Palm Sunday and the Good Friday crowds had something in common – they had agendas for God. The Palm Sunday crowd wanted the restoration of their power through national deliverance from Rome, so they sang Jesus into the city as a king. The Good Friday crowd wanted to protect their power in the systems that existed, so they chanted him out as a criminal. They both, in the end, wanted to keep what they had and get more.
But, of course, Jesus wasn’t here to make winners and losers. He didn’t come to make some people more powerful and others less. He didn’t come to take sides or to declare winners.
He came to undo our pride, defeat our worldly independence from God, and win us back to his kingdom with nothing but love – the only true power and the only true wealth. He came to create a new humanity. A people free from the fear of death because we are the people of the resurrection. A people who can look at the darkness of this world without flinching (or pretending we aren’t part of it) because we are now children of light, citizens of the kingdom of light. A people who can be richly generous in empathy, compassion, and works of justice because we have been made rich by his grace.
So, as Palm Sunday approaches, it’s a good time to ask ourselves where our hearts are.
How often do we show up to God with our agendas already in place, simply seeking to bend God to our will instead of bending our will to his?
How often do we mistake our good intentions for God for God’s good plan for us (and others)?
How often do we subtly try to follow God by leading God to the good he should have wanted to do in the first place (instead of laying our plans at his feet and asking him for his)?
How often do we turn our eyes away from the needs of others because our needs are met?
How often are we more inclined to silence the voices that challenge, oppose, or expose us instead of honor their God-given glory (even if they are covered in their sinful ruin)?
It is good for us to be reminded that the default mode of our hearts is independence from God and competition with God. We are so blind to our stubborn rebellion that we will even oppose God in the name of God.
The holy week we are entering is a great time to once again get honest, be real, and seek repentance from our stubborn worldly sin. We have nothing to lose by giving it up and everything to gain. His plans are always better than ours. His weakness is more powerful than our greatest strength. His love is more satisfying than our comfort.
We will soon be entering the shared experience of mourning on Good Friday and celebration on Resurrection Sunday. Let’s prepare our hearts for it!