“They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the King of Israel!”
A great crowd encountered Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem, and they put their cloaks on the road in front of Him, waved branches in the air and shouted out their praise and blessing. It would seem as if His time had come, and that He was being recognised as the Messiah. But crowds are fickle things and it was not long before the shouts had changed from Hosanna to ‘Crucify!’ His time had indeed come but not in the way that anyone else expected.
It is much easier to go and shout and dance at huge concerts and leave raving about the performer than it is to live with them every day. Then the entertainment factor is over and they begin to impinge upon our lives and thoughts in different ways, and not always ones that we enjoy or welcome.
The story of Israel is one of their being enthusiastic about God when He amazed them and worked in obvious ways to save and bless them. It is not so marked by excitement when it came to the question of choosing His way and His directives over their own desires and weaknesses. So with Christians today – we can come away from a church service feeling very close to God but then drift away into other spiritual places during the week. Our Sunday ‘Hosannas’ become less evident as we do things our way. Instead of the gatherings of the body being opportunities to praise God for the what He has done and enabled during the week as well as feeding us for our journey onwards with Him, they often become ‘pit stops’ to help us to continue with our own way of life.
The time of our first response to Jesus can be very exciting and emotional and one that we remember as deeply significant. It is followed by a journey with Him that is made up of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. It goes through deserts and fertile areas, dry and abundant times, hills and valleys, soaring heights and dreary plateaus, lonely nights and crowded days, pain and pleasure, failure and success, sin and saintliness. We learn more than we want to about ourselves, and we and others continually seem to get in the way of our relationship with Him. It is disturbingly easy to keep looking for colour, excitement and things that please us and, if they are not evident, to go looking for them and to embrace them as necessary.
The truth is different. We are not fickle spectators to be entertained and pampered. We are participants in the great journey, willing to go with Jesus wherever He leads us individually and together. With God’s grace and help we will not worship one moment and walk away the next. Instead we will stay close to our Lord trusting Him to care about us and care for us – and we will discover the wonder that the greatest joy is not the amazing things that He may do around us but the new life and love that He brings out within us! That is the source of our increasingly vibrant ‘Hosannas.’
What attracts and guides my spiritual life?
Dear Lord, please help me to base my relationship with You on Who You are and not just on what I see You do. Amen.