“Mom! I know what Palm Sunday is!”
My 5-year-old proceeded to proudly tell me all about Palm Sunday – how Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cries of “Hosanna”, a long-awaited king.
“But did they didn’t know (grammar in context ;)) who he was?”
“What do you mean?”
“Did they know they were going to kill him? Why were they being
so nice and happy to see him?”
It’s hard to explain to a Kindergartener how quickly the crowds turned on Jesus. It’s hard to explain, because it’s hard to understand. On one hand, sure – he wasn’t the earthly king they had expected. Things were turning out differently than they had anticipated. But how, in five days, does a city go from singing the praises of a messiah to completing criminal trials, sentencing him to death, and crucifying him on a cross – the most publicly humiliating form of capital punishment?
It doesn’t make sense.
He wasn’t the king they expected, but he was exactly what they needed.
He didn’t follow all the rules the Pharisees were so adept at keeping. He didn’t uphold social boundaries that today we’d call prejudices. He didn’t condemn sinners, and instead chose to spend time with them. He loved the unlovable and he wasn’t impressed by the religious.
He’s not often what we expect, but he is exactly what we need – whether we know it or not.
Life doesn’t unfold the way we think it should. His ways are higher than ours, we may believe – but that doesn’t mean we don’t fight them when they don’t seem to fit our plans. There is pain and grief and bad things happen to good people. There are times it seems God is distant, often because we are expecting him to show up exactly as we anticipated he might.
On this Good Friday – and throughout this week as we recently celebrated Palm Sunday with cries of “Hosanna” – I’m reminded that he isn’t often what we expect.
But he is exactly what we need.