Sober Celebration

Palm Sunday stirs mixed memories for me …
  • the fragrance of lilies in almost lethal doses,
  • aisles of swaying palm-branched children
  • a live donkey lumbering through our carpeted sanctuary (that could have gone drastically wrong)
  • majestic anthems from the choir
  • stirring sermons about the realities of King Jesus. 

Most all of it was tasteful, well-intentioned and meaningful. But there was always a dissonant note in the music of my soul. The refrain echoed every year … “How could they?” How could the jubilant thronging crowd turn so quickly? How could they cry “Hosanna to the Son of David!” and “Crucify him!” only days apart? How could the reverently intone, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and with the same lips mock him? How could the crowd be so fickle? What about His close confidants? It was the same Peter who confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” who later swore “I don’t even know the man!” And why was Jesus’ inner circle so taken off guard by the way events unfolded? The Bible says … And Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31 The sense of the passage is that it was a repeated warning … but there was the repeated promise also “and after three days rise again.” How did their faith so quickly bleed out? How did they suffer such a tragic failure to hope?

In the proud petulance of youth, “How could they?” was a cry of disdain. The years have softened my tone to a weeping whisper … “How could I?” I have proven to be as fickle as the crowd. I am prone to praise followed by denial. I grasped great truths but failed to live by them. I have heard the Savior’s call to suffering and been shocked when I must. Palm Sunday has a somber and personal note of realism for me. But it is sober … PRAISE! The same Jesus who said, “You will certainly deny me” sought Peter out after his dark days of denial and said, “Follow me.” Praise God … He still does!