This Sunday we had our annual Palm Sunday service, in which we walked through the final week of Christ's life. Our service began with joyful Hosannas and children waving Palm branches, and ended with quiet meditation on the cross and worship of Christ, the sacrificial lamb. Along the way, Kyle brought a two-part message about expectation, disappointment, and hope.
"Hosanna!" means "save us, now!" and when the people of Israel greeted Jesus with this exclamation, they expected a warrior-King who would establish God's Kingdom in real time. There were also, perhaps, personal expectations for each of the people in that crowd. "Save us, now!" meant something different for each person then, and means something different to each of us today. We must take care that our expectations align with who Jesus really is.
"What do you want me to do for you?"
Just before Jesus's triumphal entry, we get a picture of two kinds of expectation in Matthew 20. First, there is the request from the mother of the sons of Zebedee, who asks that Jesus allow her two sons to sit at his right and left side in his kingdom. Jesus responds that they must drink the cup that he will drink, and then he tells his disciples that the last will be first and the first, last. Like the sons of Zebedee, Israel expected a glorious warrior-King, but they got a suffering servant instead.
Next, Jesus encounters two blind men, who cry, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" Jesus responds with a question: "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind men ask for their eyes to be opened, and Jesus heals them, but they get another gift as well: the gift of faith. If Jesus asked us what we wanted from him today, how would we respond? What kind of Savior do we expect?
"This is my blood...poured out for many."
The week that began with cheers and expectations wound down for Jesus and his disciples with a quiet observation of the Passover feast. There, Jesus showed them the kind of Savior they could expect. First, he made himself their servant by washing their feet. Then, he used the bread and the wine to demonstrate how He would be broken for them, poured out, and emptied for them. This Savior came not to crush and to take, but to be crushed and to give of himself.
We know the next part of the story all too well: how the adoring crowd becomes a vicious mob faster than you can believe; how they'd take any common criminal over someone as meek and lowly as Christ; how the hero dies in pain and disgrace. Jesus had disappointed them. He was no warrior-King -- He wasn't even a failed zealot -- He just seemed like some poor Nazarene with crazy ideas. And, clearly, He could die as easily as anyone else.
We, too, will be disappointed if we focus on the lesser picture of our immediate needs and our selfish expectations. Unlike the Israelites, we know the bigger picture -- Jesus wasn't any ordinary person -- Jesus triumphed over death and came back from the grave. And one day He will return as a warrior-King, establishing His Kingdom forever. But that's a story for next Sunday, when we ask the question: "What if Jesus had never risen from the dead?" Until then, here are a few things to think about:
Questions to Consider:
If Jesus asked me what I wanted from Him, what would I say?
What kind of Jesus do I expect? Do I expect the charging warrior when I should remember that Jesus is also a humble servant?
Are my expectations aligned with Christ's?
Am I living with the eternal picture of Christ's Kingdom in mind, or am I only focusing on my immediate needs?