AIMEE JOSEPH|GUEST Palm Sunday. The expectant people lined the streets, praising Jesus and quoting from Psalm 118 as he approached in peace. The people knew he was the Messiah, the Sent One, the One coming to save them. Thus, they shouted “Hosanna” which means “Save us, now!” (Matt. 21:6–11). They waved light palms as he approached history’s heaviest burden. Their praise presupposed that Jesus would establish God’s people in peace politically and do so immediately. They had visions of the once-flourishing reign of David. Their hopes soared with high expectations that Jesus would usher in a new golden era. However, within a week’s time, it would become clear to these same crowds that Jesus had plans to usher in a very different kingdom. As a result of these missed expectations, their praises faded quickly into shouts of “Crucify him!” in a matter of days. We are not unlike them; our praise quickly turns cold and bitter when our expectations are not met in our way and on our timetable. As we approach Holy Week, we are invited to search for the semblances of our own hearts in the fickle crowds. Jesus rode into Jerusalem through a tunnel of praises that came from the mouths of those who would soon chant “Barabbas!” (Matt. 27:15–23). They cheered his approach with a light and airy joy, but he alone knew he was marching on to his death. His patient restraint and resolve as he approached an unthinkable burden only further shows the purity of his goodness and love. His Burden A King approaching in peace, In humility He rode on, Onlookers cheering him, Expecting a new dawn. The Scriptures foretold it, Yet none of them could see, The dawn would begin with The God-Man hung on a tree. The Messiah was coming, To bring His kingdom to bear; But of the coronation of tears, None but Jesus was aware. “Hosanna! Save us!” they cried, As hopes and palms were raised. “Finally the kingdom’s come, May Jesus’ name be praised!” He heeded not their fanatical cries, For he well knew the heart of men, From “Crown Him” to “Crucify,” The voices would be raised again...
When I signed on to write this post, I had no idea the world would be in the midst of one of the hardest waits we’ve ever faced, the global pandemic of 2020. As I write, Americans are being urged to stay home from school, work, church, even from the doctor’s office. We stay home, and we wait. We wait to see if the curve will be flattened; we wait to see if the virus will strike us or our loved ones; we wait to see what will happen to the economy when it’s all over. It feels as if the whole world is trembling as it waits. And yet, even as we wait in this nerve-shattering season, because of the resurrection, we wait with hope. Unlike the first followers of Jesus on the day after his death, we know there is a better day coming. The First ‘Already/Not Yet’ Day You may have heard the phrase “the already and the not yet” in a sermon or read it in a book. The “already” refers to the fact that Jesus has “already” died for our sins and been raised to new life, that his followers have “already” known the cleansing of our sins and our adoption as God’s children. The “not yet” refers to the fact that Jesus has “not yet” returned to fully restore all of creation; indeed, we groan with all of creation for the redemption of all things (Romans 8:22-23). In this season of the “already/not yet,” we eagerly await the day when Jesus will return to fully and finally restore all broken things...
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It’s the Thursday before Easter, and we’re heading home from church, each of us sitting in our own bubbles of silence. The communion service quieted our hearts to ponder Jesus’ last supper with His disciples and the coming crucifixion tomorrow. “Tomorrow!” My thoughts interrupt. “That means it’s only 3 days until Easter. What should go with the ham? Do Tyler’s pants that match his Easter shirt still fit? Oh, and I need shoes. Yikes. I can’t forget to grab peanut butter eggs and another dozen eggs to dye.” By the time Easter dinner dishes are piled in the sink and candy wrappers lay on the dining table, I’m ready to sit down. That’s when I wonder what happened to Easter. How could I have let the celebrations hijack the resurrection? I hate to admit it, but during the Easter service, I tried to conjure gratitude and joy, but I hear the message so often and seem to have grown unresponsive. I wasn’t prepared, at least not in my heart. I practice Advent to prepare for Christmas. Why not prepare for Easter? Is Lent a Biblical practice?