Barbara's Random Thoughts

Friday, April 14, 2006

Palm Sunday, Good Friday

I wrote the following on Monday, thinking about Palm Sunday. I've gone back to it several times this week, each time concluding that it wasn't quite what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. But these thoughts have been in my mind this week, and I decided that I'm going to post them anyway, in spite of my self-doubt. I hope there's something here that says something to you.

When I was just a little church kid going to Sunday School, we would always make newspaper palm trees on Palm Sunday. I don't know if it was just a Baptist Sunday School thing or what, but Palm Sunday always makes me think of newspaper palm trees.

Palm Sunday is the day Jesus entered Jerusalem amid shouts of celebration. Within this story, there's an undercurrent of hypocrisy--I find it's inevitable that somewhere during the Palm Sunday service, it's mentioned that the same people who shouted "Hosanna!" on Palm Sunday were shouting "Crucify" just a few days later.

I realized on Sunday that I was feeling a bit self-righteous about the difference between the hosanna-shouters and myself. Because of course, I know better. I will praise Jesus on Palm Sunday and will be mindful of His sacrifice on Good Friday. I'm so smug in my enlightened frame of mind...and so unmindful of my own pride and my own failings. Really, I am no better. My profoundest moments of praise easily turn into moments of distrust and blame, when God isn't giving me what I think I want. And even in those times of praise, I can be pretty blind to my own faults.

But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too.
Matt. 26: 33-35

I started thinking that it's a little strange that we echo the triumphal entry in our Palm Sunday celebrations, especially when it's mentioned that this time of praise gave way to condemnation and shouts of "crucify him!" It seems in a way that we're imitating insincere praise. But in pondering my own pride, I realized that one reason we echo their praises in this way is because our own hearts echo theirs.

My response to Jesus mirrors that of so many who went before. I get caught up in the changing mood of the crowd: I praise and adore, and then I shout for the death of the One who came to save. Like Peter, I exclaim that I'll never leave Him, and then I do the very thing I vowed not to do. And I run.

Ultimately, the shouts of "crucify him" on Good Friday don't negate the praise of Palm Sunday. Just because the shouts of "Hosanna" turned to shouts of "crucify" doesn't mean that the praise wasn't sincere in the first place. Just because praise turned to condemnation, doesn't mean the praise wasn't sincere. Even a Friday denial can be turned around with words of restoration. We praise, and we fail. And we will praise again.

There's a reason we walk through Easter week: through the celebration, the betrayal, and then His death. We walk through the praise, the condemnation, and the end of hope, and then all of that gives way to Easter morning, where everything is changed and nothing will be the same again. This walk is a journey into our own hearts--causing us to see our deep need and His great sufficiency--and beyond, into Easter's celebration of the One who can change the pride and the blindness we find within.
| posted by Barbara | 5:49 PM