Yes, who IS this?
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. — Matthew 21:10
In today’s Daily Devotional, Richard L. Floyd, Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, writes, “Jesus knew that people who said the kinds of things he said and did the kind of things he did in Jerusalem were likely to end up on a Roman cross.”
There was no ‘likely’ for Jesus. The Son of Man knew exactly where He was going and exactly what was going to happen: he would painfully die not for His sins but ours.
“But his disciples didn’t know, and they weren’t ready for the journey he was taking,” Floyd says. “Because Jesus loved them, he wanted to prepare them for what was to come.”
How do we prepare? Seriously, is there such a thing as “getting ready for this?”
I’ve preached six sermons this Lenten season on the exact subject of what Jesus’ death on a cross means for us, five here in Harford and one during an ecumenical worship service in Hallstead, Pennsylvania, but last night when sixteen kids watched with our CE Director Bonnie Love-Colwell a scene of Jesus dying on the cross, I instantly connected with a fourth grader in front of me. She bowed her head. She couldn’t watch.
It was a movie clip, a reenactment. But I was with that girl. Whoa. That was too hard to watch.
Maybe we “understand” the crucifixion—a little—and that’s only because the Easter message isn’t new to most of us, but here’s the deal: we can’t fully prepare for the events that happen to Jesus during Holy Week. We can’t. We are right when we ask what the people lining the streets with palm branches waving asked, “Who is this Jesus?”
Who is this Jesus who willingly enters Jerusalem knowing his assassins are waiting for his arrival? Who is this Jesus who loves those who crucify him? Who is this Jesus who is mocked, spit upon, beaten, and forced to carry the burdensome weight of His own cross? Who is this Jesus who, in the greatest pain, quietly speaks to His Father in heaven?
It is wise for us to be like this remarkable fourth grader who comes to our church’s GAME ON with steady conviction. She loves her Savior so much she couldn’t watch His agony.
We can’t either, to be honest. In awe, in love, and in the deepest appreciation we can never express fully in words, we, too, shake our heads (or look away), and, with our hearts pounding in our chests and tears rolling down our faces, we hold in divine wonder just who our Jesus truly is.
Holy Week begins. Know less. Experience more. If you do this, your Easter awakening will not just happen next Sunday; it will happen every day.
PRAYER: Through this mirror dimly we will someday see you face-to-face, dear Jesus. Only then will we know who You are. Because we will then know the depth of the love You have for us, we will fall into Your arms and soak into Your presence. Until this happens, help us keep waving proverbial palm branches to You and wondering exactly who You are. Amen.