Earlier this month I wrote on the sorrow of Jesus (you can find it here). But I am returning to these verses again because of the significance of the day. This is Palm Sunday. One week until Resurrection.
Palm Sunday is filled with tension. The crowds love Jesus, the Pharisees hate him. The atmosphere is joyful, but Jesus is sorrowful. Why such contrast, such disconnect?
Jesus knows that the praise is fleeting. And I guess that’s what gets me. Jesus is going to the cross—willingly—for a bunch of fakes and frauds; for fair-weather friends and liars. The crowds are declaring Him Savior, but soon they’ll be crying “Crucify Him.” The disciples have never been bolder or more loyal, but soon they will scatter and deny.
Jesus looks on the crowds and their praise and he grieves:
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. Luke 19:41-42
Our praise is so fleeting. We mean well, but live it out so poorly. Our trust and faith are solid, but only until our expectations go unmet.
And so Jesus enters Jerusalem to the sounds of worship, but he grieves because he knows. He knows his people; he knows us. We are broken and corrupt. We don’t stay true for long periods of time. We have far too much lust and impatience for our sacrificial king.
It reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ ” Matthew 11:16-19
The Israelites didn’t like John the Baptist—he was too weird. They didn’t like Jesus—he partied too much.
We’re never happy for long. We have so many expectations and when Jesus doesn’t meet them exactly we wander off, lash out, accuse, complain or pout. And so on what we call Palm Sunday Jesus enters into Jerusalem to the roaring crowd of worshippers and followers and he grieves because he knows.
And yet, he goes to the cross willingly. Knowing how often we fail to see what will bring us peace. Knowing that we are wayward and consistently rebellious. Knowing we are without patience and with far too many expectations. And yet he goes willingly.
Jesus knows his people; he knows us. And yet he goes on toward the cross.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”