Hosanna In Our Fears!
Every year, when Palm Sunday comes around, I am reminded of my childhood. As a Catholic, it was a day on which we would certainly go to mass. It meant that I would get to come home with a palm leaf; and it meant Easter was around the corner and Spring was upon us.
I loved Palm Sunday—I still do, but today, Palm Sunday reminds me of something else, something less innocent; Palm Sunday also reminds me of how much influence fear has upon us.
Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus; He rode a donkey into Jerusalem and the people were so excited about this man that they cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). They were shouting praises as well as a cries for help from a king.
They, like every person today, looked for hope and someone, or something, to lead them out of the darkness of their lives. But looking for hope, and following through with what hope asks of us, are two different things. We all like to hope, but we are cautious because we don’t want to end up worse off than we were to begin with. The people who cried out to Jesus that day probably felt the same way.
Their hope was in this man who might be a prophet—or who might be something else. They were cautiously optimistic; that is, until Jesus was arrested. They feared that everything they hoped for was falling apart and if they continued to follow this Jesus, they might end up like He did. Perhaps that is why they changed their tune from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him!” in less than a week.
How often have we been optimistic about the outcome of something only to have it fall apart on us? How many times have we felt certain that things were finally coming together, only to have them spiral out of control on us? We have all learned that reality has no mercy upon our plans or desires. And because of that, we have a tendency to allow fear to influence our decisions.
We may begin to live by silly mantras such as, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” We may try to hurt others before they hurt us. We may prevent others from getting close so that we don’t get hurt. We may take steps to protect ourselves from the world around us—through finances, power, fame, or success. We may try to shout “Crucify Him!” louder than others so that we cannot be accused of following someone who seems to be failing. And for these reasons, we often find it difficult to follow Jesus at all times.
Fear is powerful; even the disciples ran if fear. Jesus was arrested, He was accused, and He was crucified until dead. It’s hard to find hope in the darkest moments.
Next week, many will celebrate Easter, they will gather and celebrate the risen Savior. It’s easy to praise God when things turn around for the better. But we should remember that that light came out of the darkness, that hope came when we were hopeless, and that fears can only be conquered when we admit they exist. Palm Sunday is a time to celebrate that God walks with us through the darkness as well as in the light—it is we who often abandon Him in fear, and it is never the other way around.
Hosanna, to God in the Highest!
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!