Today starts the first day of Passion Week, the week prior to Easter Sunday, when we celebrate Jesus’ ressurection from the dead. It’s a time to reflect on Christ’s life and death, the price he paid, the journey he traveled, all for our sake. Though we are undeserving, he went through so much, not because of anything we are, but because of everything that He is. God is good.
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs. it.'”
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
It’s hard to imagine that one week after this big fanfare, all these people would be calling for Christ’s crucifixion. The same people who were chanting his praises and laying down palm leaves and cloaks for Jesus would become the people who chanted to free Barabbas and put Jesus up on the cross. What’s even more amazing is that Christ knew about all of that the whole time. He had the vision of things to come, yet continued to make the journey.
Jesus looked into the eyes of hypocrites and 2-faced people. He crossed paths with people who patted him on the back with one hand, and were preparing to stab him in the back with the other. While he knew this, what was Jesus’ response? Love. Pity. Passion. He knew they were weak and sinful, and it broke his heart. He knew that he would be put to death, but because it was for these people, he chose to continue on.
And Jesus looks down on us in the same way. Many times, we lift up praises to God, claiming He’s so great and so powerful and so wonderful and we are so thankful. And then later we turn away from everything he commands us…we seek to please our selfish desire, we push God to the side, we fall to drunkeness and unwholesome talk and self gratification. And we don’t see anything wrong with it. But Christ looks at us amazed…amazed at how out of one mouth can come great praises and great condemnation. How out of one being there can be such devout following of certain commands, yet blatant disregard to others. And through this amazement, Christ thinks, “Man, these people cannot save themselves. No matter what they do, they are so sinful. They cannot stand in the presence of the Almighty God because of their sin. But I love them. I will take the punishment, cover them with my blood, and they will be redeemed and capable of joining My Father in His glorious kingdom.” Such love. The pain and torture, the mockery and shame, Christ did it all for our sake.
Jesus told the Pharisees, “If they keep quiet the stones will cry out.” I believe the day will come when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (hopefully out of a joyful, willing choice). But I don’t think that anything will be able to withstand giving praises to God. The wind, the waves, the trees, the rocks…everything will erupt in praise to God. How sad would it be if the stones outside shout more praises to God than I do. They don’t even have a soul to be saved, the rocks are mere objects. And here I am, forgiven and redeemed, given mercy and grace for eternity, and I try to send up shy whispers? I don’t want to lose a praising contest to a rock. With every breath I am going to praise His name. My God is great. I exalt Him. Hosanna. Praise the Lord. Amen.