I loved the contributions of the children to the worship celebration this past Sunday morning. As we remembered together the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem at the beginning of what is often called “Holy Week,” the children of the congregation led us in song, scripture readings and a Palm Party! The energy was awesome and so was their singing.
I must admit there was something a little incongruent about waving palm tree branches in the air as several inches of snow accumulated outside, but it’s Chicago so we have to allow spring to come and go as it pleases.
During the sermon on Sunday morning (which you can listen to here) I mentioned that Palm Sunday itself is a picture of Jesus giving his people exactly what they need, but not at all what they want. The crowds in Jerusalem wanted Jesus to bring judgment down upon the Romans, their oppressors. What they thought they needed from God was someone to come and judge the Romans, because the Romans were the people who were ruining the world. What they actually needed was someone to come and bear the judgment for their sins for them, because they were the people who were ruining the world. We all are a part of the problem with the world. Our sin is the problem with the world. We all needed to be reconciled with God so that God can eliminate evil without eliminating us.
We all often ask for far less of God than what God wants to give us.
One commentator wrote about Palm Sunday that this scene is a picture of the lifelong mismatch between what you want from God and what God is providing.
What I think I need is almost always more shallow than what God wants to give me. I pray and ask him to “be my savior” with some issue. Help me to sell my house, to find a new job, to fix an issue with my kids, or heal some illness. Those are all perfectly fine prayers and our Savior invites us to ask him for what we believe we need.
But Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is interested in addressing more than just our material and worldly challenges. Jesus is interested in giving us what we actually need. Jesus often confounds our expectations, but in the end, Jesus almost always exceeds our expectations.
So, what are you praying about right now? What issue(s) are you inviting Jesus to enter into and help you with? As you continue to pray those things, might you be willing to pray that Jesus would give you not only what you are asking for, but that he would give you whatever it is that he wants you to have? Would you be willing to pray, for example, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread, unless you have something better than our daily bread in mind”? Or to pray, “Lord, I pray you would heal this affliction, unless you have something better and more important than physical healing to offer.” Or to pray, “Lord, help me find a new job quickly, unless you have something even better and more important in your plans than an end to my job search.”
The crowds missed the better gift that Jesus wanted to give them on Palm Sunday.
My prayer is that we would be willing to trust that what Jesus wants to give us is even more than what we are asking for, even when it is not at all what we are asking for!