Yesterday was Palm Sunday, and it keeps running through my mind how things were 2,000 years ago. Jesus comes into the town of Jeruselem, a King on a donkey. The townspeople treated him like royalty. “Hosana” they cried, “Save us!”. They laid their cloaks on the ground so that his donkey would not have to walk in the mud. They laid palms down, marking his path with high honor. Picturing it, I’m sure there were people crying as they cried out, hands outstretched to hopefully get even the faintest touch of this man they had been hearing so much about.
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”
What made them change? What once were pleas for rescue and worship, 6 days later were demands for blood and torture, and death. “Crucify him!” Why? He was claiming to be the son of God. Yet days before, they had praised him as a king. But in that short amount of time, everything changed. There were no outstretched hands. There were no cries of “Hosana”. There were no palms laid at his feet. Instead there was a crown of thorns. Instead they spat on him and threw things at him. The king they had honored days before was reduced to the lowest of criminals.
They shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
When Lucas was a baby, I felt this desperate urge to seek out God again. But I couldn’t do it on my own. I was introduced to the church I now go to, and discovered an intimacy with Jesus I had never experienced before. I will say here that you do not need a church to be this close to Jesus, he meets us wherever we seek him. For me, I sought him out in church. And he embraced me.
Through the years, I nurtured this relationship with Christ. He helped me through some very hard trials in my life: the stillbirth of my son, the abuse of my husband, the lonliness of my life, my divorce and the aftermath, and now, the regaining of my children through trials with their father. And I see it now that it was not me seeking him out, he sought me. I tremble to think of how things would have been had I not become reacquainted with him at the time that I did. For a year later, after our relationship was cemented, that is when I lost my son. How would things have been had I not had a close relationship with Jesus? I would have died. Literally died. The pain would have been too immense. And I would have hated God for taking my son away. I would not have understood. I would have hated God, and I would have died with that hate intwined in my soul. And if I didn’t die then, the torpedoes that followed afterwards wold have surely killed me. But Jesus knew the details of my life so well that he sought me out so that I would not have been alone when tragedy struck. Non-believers would surely ask why God would strike such suffering on my life to begin with. Why does suffering have to take place at all? How can a merciful God torment his people? There is no one short answer. Each person’s trials are for different purposes. But the basis for suffering is growth. If life on earth was perfect, no cause for pain and suffering, we would have no need for Jesus. And our growth would be stunted. What would we strive for if there was nothing to overcome? Once I overcame my son’s death and all that followed, I came out stronger than ever, in my faith, as a person, and for others who needed me to comfort them as I had once been comforted.
But I am one of those townspeople. My life got comfortable. Once I cried out to Jesus, “Save me!” I pleaded with him to take away my pain. He didn’t, not right away. Instead he saved me by helping to give me the tools to handle the pain and triumph over what used to be obstacles. I pleaded with him to make my marriage better. He didn’t. Instead he gave me a loving expample of what a marriage should be by placing me back in the safety of my parent’s home. I pleaded with him to give me money. He didn’t. Instead he taught me about needs and wants, and I saw that I had all I needed, and wanted for nothing. And through all this I was pleased. But in times of extreme comfort, I pleaded for nothing. Not even the intimacy I had with Jesus. Jesus was my Santa Claus, I asked for what I wanted for my life. And when it was well, I left him to be crucified.
I did this. I made my life. I am well because I have taken the necessary means to save myself. Jesus? Yeah, he’s just some man who once lived. Sure, I treated him as holy when I needed. But now that things are great, I don’t really need him right now. Besides, he keeps getting in my way when I want to do the things I want to do, he keeps disagreeing with me over what I should be doing. I know what is right for my life, I got myself this far, right?
“Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”
Jesus, you are my Lord. You lived as a holy example for my life. You lived so that I could experience intimacy with God. And you suffered and died so that I could be with you one day. When I deny you, I am denying your holiness, and how much I need you in all aspects of my life. I am sorry. You honor me a million times more than I have ever attempted to honor you. And though I could never get close to the multitude of your grace, I have not been even trying to praise you with all I am capable of. I am here because of you. It is through you that all things in my life are possible. And I plead with you now for that desperation for you in all I do. Lord, I am at your mercy. May I crucify you no longer. Amen.