Journey with John
It was a day of ecstasy and agony. The ecstasy was there in the thrilling reaction of an enthusiastic crowd, giving Jesus the reception he so richly deserved. Critics were silenced, cynics forgotten. Enemies of Jesus watched helplessly, as thousands of people cheered for him, waving palm branches joyously. No one ever deserved it more. For one short day the earth received its king in something like the pageantry that was warranted by who he was. Jesus was no glory seeker. A slight embarrassment at the outpouring of such admiration surely filled him, but even Jesus saw a certain appropriateness in their clamorous demonstration afforded the prince of peace. His antagonists, fearing that the crowd was getting out of hand, demanded that he order his disciples to stop. “Make them be still!” And Jesus, sensing their fear replied, “If these were silent, the stones would shout out.” There are times when excitement and enthusiasm are the only appropriate reactions. In a world that loses its head over ball games and rock concerts, surely the Lord of all life deserves some emotional display from the fans. There was joy….
But, there was also agony that day. Those closest to Jesus saw it in his eyes and heard it in his voice as he drew near the city. That procession began in Bethany, a mile and a half east of Jerusalem, hidden from the city by the Mount of Olives. As he crested that hill and looked out to see the city spread before him, Jesus wept. Surely his closest puzzled over the tears. Everything he had wanted, worked for, prayed for, was about to become his. He had spoken often of his new kingdom that was coming, and here – ready to receive him – was the city that would be the political base of that new regime. This city, the city of David, was now opening its heart to a new king. And still, Jesus wept….
Here was the agony: the realization that despite their protestations of allegiance, what they really wanted was something quite different from what he desired. They wanted him to be their kind of king. They had no interest in being his kind of kingdom. Still today, what Jesus wants from us is not so much the excitement of glamorous praise, but the quietly heroic offering of humbled lives, willing to become instruments of his grace…. He still comes, hopeful that we, joyful disciples, might get it right and become instruments of grace. Let it be so. We are Christ’s hope….