For all you basketball fans – were you rejoicing or weeping as you watched your team this week? I’m sure that it depended on which game you were watching. In our Scripture readings, there isn’t a basketball game going on, but something much more eternal in nature – Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords is coming into Jerusalem as the King that He is. The people rejoice and Jesus weeps. What does this mean for us?
The disciples and the Jews who were in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover recognized Jesus for who He is – the Promised Son of David. The symbolism and reality was all there – riding into Jerusalem on a colt of a donkey (like Solomon rode in on David’s donkey, and in fulfillment of the Zechariah prophecy); and they sang the coronation song: “Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” waving palm branches and spreading their cloaks on the ground as a “red carpet” for their coming king! The Pharisees also knew this as they demanded that Jesus silence His disciples and the people, but Jesus knew this was THE TIME – promised from the beginning of time.
As the disciples and the people were rejoicing greatly, why does Jesus weep? Not because He knew what was about to happen to Him in Jerusalem. Jesus had told His disciples at least three times, in vivid detail, what would happen to Him! No, Jesus wept because He knew the rejection of the people whom He loved; He wept because He knew of their eternal fate and the physical destruction of the city of Jerusalem (in 70 AD). Jesus wept, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace (Who is bringing you peace!)… but you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you!” (Luke 19:42-44)
Jesus says, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). A couple of weekends ago, we heard the Pharisees warn Jesus to leave Jerusalem because Herod wanted to kill Him, but Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34) Jesus wept because of all the unbelief.
And in this weekend’s second reading, Philippians 2, we read, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” Do we have the same attitude towards those who refuse to believe; towards those who are apathetic toward their relationship with Jesus or refuse Him outright?
For some churches, Palm Sunday is when they celebrate the Rite of Confirmation; a time of rejoicing for many families, but a time of weeping when the reality of how many have so quickly broken the promise to “be faithful in worship and their faith relationship with Jesus and His Church until death.”
Jesus wept over those who “will not” receive His gracious gift of peace and salvation. Do we also weep? Do we have “the same attitude of Jesus?”
This week, Holy Week and Easter, is a great time to invite those who at one time were on the active “team believers” (baptized, confirmed) but have been “skipping practice” (daily devotions and prayers, worship and Bible Classes) and the “games” (receiving and sharing God’s gifts of forgiveness and service.) This is also a great time to invite those who are not yet on “team believers” to live in the eternal blessings of Jesus! What if we would use the same excitement and energy we have for our sports teams to invite (invite back) those on the fringes or outside of “team believers?” When this happens, we know there’s “rejoicing in heaven” (Luke 15:7); and we rejoice as well – we rejoice greatly!
Rejoicing in worshiping with you and receiving Jesus’ gracious blessings this week on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and each weekend throughout the year!