Holy Week Meditations (Palm Sunday): Who Did You Expect?

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Sunday kicked off Holy Week for the Christian Church. This may mean nothing to you whether you are a follower of Jesus, or not. 

But for me it’s everything. I’ll explain as I share a couple meditations during the most important week of human history. 

These reflections will be based around the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The eyewitness accounts of the life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

Matthew 21: Palm Sunday

Who is this Messiah? How will he come? What did we expect?

Jesus nears Jerusalem and sends his disciples to find him a donkey. A strange request for the Son of God. But if you know the back story and hopes and expectations of Israel, it makes sense. 

The Messiah and Redeemer of God’s people would be a David-like King, at least we thought. A King wielding a sword and destroying his enemies. Israel had enough of Roman oppression and a dark history of slavery and bondage. It was time for freedom and the bringing in of the Kingdom of God.

Imagine the murmurs and rumors and stories and expectations the community of Israel experienced. Who is this Messiah? Is he finally here for our vindication? Can it be Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph, and David? 

The hope and expectation thick and cut with a knife.

But Jesus sends for a humble donkey. This Messiah-King would not ride into Jerusalem (the center of worship and identity and hope of Israel). Jesus would not come riding on a war horse, like a true David-King pronouncing victory, he would come on a foal, a beast of burden. 

The Scriptures were clear of how he’d come; the prophets were not mincing words, but he came and they weren’t satisfied.

As the cries of “Hosanna in the highest,” faded in Jerusalem, in a few short days, these same cries would change, change to what was really going on in their hearts, “Crucify him… crucify him…”

What did we expect?

Our vision for who God is and what he (or she) should do is warped and marred by sin. The portrait typically designed to prop up our agendas and build our kingdoms and celebrate the Holy Trinity of: me, myself, and I.

This is our story, my story.

I’m the one in the crowd with exuberant praise for the Messiah King. Give it a minute, maybe two. Now I’m the one shouting crucify him… get rid of this weak man. I want another. My God looks like a little better version of me.

I don’t want the God revealed in Jesus. What other options do I have?

But I sit, and wait, and give it another minute or two, or years. 

Jesus is exactly the one I need. 

The humble King, the servant and suffering King, because my wounds are too deep. My longings and desires too warped. I need something more than example and inspiration. I plead for redemption and healing in the inner most parts. My stains too deep.

My eyesight too frail and heart too weak for a man-dreamed vision of God. I need more, I need Jesus.

I’m Israel, the confused disciples, and the religious of Jesus’ day who got him killed. I want another Redeemer, but no one is coming… because he already came. 

I need the Jesus who speaks grace to sinners, tax collector, and prostitute who appears to be closer to the Kingdom, than most religious people. 

I’m the one is the crowds with mixed motives. But I hear the Messiah-King say: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus, the humble Suffering-Servant and King is always surprising us in the most unexpected ways. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. 

Maybe the King I need.