This Sunday is Palm Sunday and we can read about it in John 12:12-16: “The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him. They began to shout, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’ Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, people of Zion; look, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt!’ (His disciples did not understand these things when they first happened, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about him and that these things had happened to him.)”
As we read the gospels, we see the progression of Jesus’ ministry and popularity come to a climax with His triumphal entry. People were laying down their coats and palm branches. In a sense, they were rolling out the red carpet for Jesus. They were all praising Him and excited about the future. Many believed this was it: the realization of why Jesus came. His mission was being accomplished and now the credits could roll.
But we know the story doesn’t end there. God has a much bigger ending planned as it continues to play out in our lives even today. It’s hard to believe that, within a week of Palm Sunday, Jesus would end up being arrested, tried, and crucified. These same people who were praising Him a week earlier would turn and against Him and demand that Barabbas—a hardened criminal—be released instead of Jesus. What happened? What made the crowd so fickle?
This man that they were calling the Messiah had healed the sick and performed miracles. And on that Palm Sunday, it seemed He had the favor of the world on Him. But over that next week, Jesus’ ministry became more and more controversial. He overturned tables in the temple and drove people out with a whip; He spoke in confusing parables and talked about dying. The people began to doubt Him and the Pharisees fueled the doubt with their own deceitful desires.
This promised king wasn’t supposed to die: He was supposed to conquer the Roman Empire and be, well, their king. The problem was that they had their own idea of what God was going to do and how He was going to do it. And apparently Jesus didn’t meet their expectations.
We all have the tendency to put God in a box. We predict how He’s going to move in certain situations and it can challenge the very core of our beliefs when He doesn’t meet—or stay within—our expectations.
We need to ask ourselves: Will we be faithful when God doesn’t show up the way we want Him to? Have there been times when we’ve been disappointed with God and how things worked out? How do we respond? Do we trust that God is at work and will ultimately work all things together for the good of those who love Him?
Jesus’ death and resurrection is the very best news ever given to us. His sacrifice changes everything for those who put their trust in Him, but it didn’t seem like it at the time.
Heavenly Father, we seek Your strength to have faith for ourselves, our family, and our church. May we believe in Your will and plan for our lives, even when it doesn’t make sense. –Amen