12 On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”
Imagine the scene.
Large crowds were there for the festival. Most already knew the buzz around Jesus and many had actually seen Him and His Miracles in person. Whether being fed on the hillside miraculously with thousands of others or seeing hundreds of pigs filled with demons run off a cliff, or the healing of sight, the lame walking and even the dead being raised.
And Jesus was now here, and each person thought to himself “He is going to save me from my hardships”
How many of you recall your first encounter with Christ. Whether (like me) it was a Saul to Paul conversion of great magnitude that saw immediate freedom from drugs and alcohol so that emotional and relational healing could begin. Or like many there was a moment of clarity sitting in church listening to the same verses and sermons you had heard a hundreds times before when something clicked and Jesus and the Gospels came alive like never before.
For many a feeling of incredible exhilaration followed by extreme devotion. The deeply heart-felt conviction that “I’m all in Lord – Your will not mine be done”. And we pressed into the sacrificial verses with determination that they would become our deepest chore character traits.
And we replied YES LORD, I’M ALL IN
As the years roll on and we “work hard” for the Lord, volunteering, leading, maybe even going to seminary and preaching; the years roll on…
And the hardships keep coming, and the emotional struggles continue, and the difficult relationships or health problems persist. There seems to be little rest, and even less reward.
And you begin to wonder; what did I sign up for? I thought….
And there it is, the Palm Sunday Christian.
As the throngs of people worshiped and treated Jesus as a King and gave Him a triumphant entrance into Jerusalem just a week before they were under the impression that Jesus would… would… would what?
Would overthrow Rome?
Would raise up a great army?
Would reduce taxes, increase freedoms, produce food, shelter and work on a scale they hadn’t seen before?
What did you think Jesus was going to do for you? Did he meet those expectations?
I know for me I didn’t think it was going to be so hard. The joy I felt in my heart was because I was sure that all the trauma of my childhood abuse which I was medicating away with drugs, alcohol and pornography was behind me… I was set free.
I thought “now I will become a greater success in my career and get paid what I’m worth” and “now my health will turn the corner and I will be able to do the things of my youth”.
6 years down the road of being a Christian and I’m wondering why life is still so hard and instead of finding revival I find the message over and over and over that we are a world at war; not just physically as is so evident in watching the news but more importantly a spiritual battle rages and we are called to stand and fight.
The crowds of thousands who were so happy to see Jesus come through the gates of Jerusalem and downright excited and worshiped and honored his presence just one week earlier were now turning on him chanting crucify… CRUCIFY!!!
They had each drawn up in their own minds what they thought Jesus was going to do for them and it created great joy within them.
They were expecting a free ride that would make their life easier. Let HIM do all the work and we will reap the rewards.
If you find yourself today thinking “this is a lot harder than I expected” or “this is not at all what I thought it would be” it’s time for a heart check.
Was the “pink cloud” experience of those early days, months, years when you first came to Christ based truly on going all in and His will not yours?
Or was it with the hope and expectation that all of life’s hardships were going to go away?
And as we grow beyond the naïve notion that our troubles are going to go away; we are then faced with the reality that being a lukewarm Christian playing church once-in-a-while is nowhere near what He expected when He said Follow Me.
War is hell, and we all, every one of us are called to be soldiers on the front lines. We every one of us has special gifts of the Spirit and abilities we were born with and they are supposed to be used for the Kingdom; we are to be fishers of men, every one of us.
Every day we are to be aware that there is an Enemy who wants to destroy every person on the planet and we are to engage in that spiritual battle. We are to discover our specific Spiritual Gifting and use it for the glory of God.
We are warriors called to battle and the battle is real. It’s time to bust any illusion that following Jesus was going to be a gentle stroll down a well lit path and armor up and get in the game.
Father God, forgive me! As I become more aware that much of my joy in the early years of knowing you was based on my expectation that someday it was going to get easier. That was never your promise Lord. Yes my soul can have rest but the Enemy will never stop coming at me and the ones I love… and more importantly the ones YOU love (which is everyone) and I must always be ready to engage the enemy when I see him trying to kill, steal and destroy. You have blessed me Father with a life free from drugs and alcohol and a heart that longs to worship you. I know that I have been set free but my emotional struggles indicate that I’m still not living free. Help me to accept the reality that my life is not my own and that fighting for and with you is a far more glorious destiny than my little mind would ever dream up. I here and now reclaim the joy I knew when we first met and renounce any place in my heart that reduces you to a gumball machine. You are my Savior and my Lord and my life story will sing Your praises. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray…