Today was a day full of emotions, for as I prepared to go to my church to celebrate Palm Sunday, I knew that most of our congregation had anything but celebrating in mind, as we awoke to the news of attacks on two churches in Egypt. Once again, a Christian holiday had been ruined by death and destruction.
However, we serve a God who meets us at our point of need and reminds us that we are people of hope and good cheer, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). It began with our Bible Study time. We studied Paul’s letter to the church in Thessaloniki, a church born out of turmoil and attack (Acts 17), but one in which Paul was full of encouragement because they had remained faithful to the Lord, grown in their faith and been a witness to the world around them. As our group shared together in how the Lord was speaking to us through this letter, I was again reminded why I love my church family.
We then went into the sanctuary for worship, and I marveled at my oldest son as he led music and read from the Bible how He too had been touched by Paul’s letter and what it meant for us on just such a day. We passed out palms and raised them as we sang our hosanna’s to the King of kings and remembered that first triumphal entry so long ago.
When the guest speaker did not show up, our dear pastor rose, and with three thoughts written on a Post-It note, he shared what was obviously a message given from above from John 12, not about the Triumphal entry itself, but Jesus’ reaction and words following that fateful day.
John tells us that not even His own disciples understood what was happening that day, and the crowds were excited about Him only because they had heard that He brought Lazarus back from the dead. It was when some Greeks asked his disciples to see Jesus, that Jesus finally sheds some light on what has taken place. He told them the hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified…but only the ones who are willing to give up their life for His sake would get a glimpse of His glory…only they would gain a life for eternity.
His disciples would eventually understand this, post-resurrection, and those of us in Christ today can as well. For, it’s not about the palms, the crowds, the celebrations and the demonstrations of love — it’s about the expression of love in sacrificial service to the Master.
The picture of this palm branch from Egypt that is covered in blood became for me, after a day in His Word, the symbol of what Christ is saying. Read the account of the Triumphal Entry in all four Gospels, and you will see it too, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Don’t stop at the entrance, but look at what Jesus says afterwards in Luke 19, Mark 11, Matthew 21, and John 12. He cares nothing for the words of the crowd and is mournful for the apathy and empty faith of people in what should have been the holiest place on earth.
God continued His encouragement for us today by allowing us to celebrate the addition of a brother to our church family. He knew what we needed, reminding us it’s about the building of His church, His Kingdom.
May He find in us the humble and contrite hearts that go deep in relationship with Him, that we might bear fruit for His glory and honor.
Grace and Peace