March 20, 2016
Can you be happy and sad at the same time? Or can an event be both happy and sad? Have you ever seen a movie that makes you laugh and cry or have you ever laughed so hard that you cried? Palm Sunday is a day of happy and sad. It is a joyful celebration of the triumphal entry that is described in the gospel when Jesus enters Jerusalem as he comes to the last week of his life. He comes in on a colt and his disciples are treating him as a king because they are celebrating the many wonderful acts they have witnessed Jesus doing throughout his life on earth. Jesus has cured people from diseases, returned sight to the blind and has given the lame the ability to walk. He multiplied the loaves and the fishes, changed water to wine, healed the lepers and raised Lazarus from the dead. The disciples know that this is a person who came to make all things new and who has not only healed people physically and mentally but his teachings and his tremendous acts of compassion have been like medicine for their souls. So what is the sad part?
Jesus is on his way to the place where he will be sentenced to death, tortured and crucified. The happy mood changes in the next verses of this passage in the gospel of Luke. Verses 41-47 say:
41As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” 45Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; 46and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” 47Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; 48but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
Jesus was weeping because his death will show how the visitation from God was not recognized. Love came into the world in the form of Jesus. He showed the world a new way of being. This new way included ridding God’s House of robbers who not only take money but who would sell their souls just to have more money.
Jesus is a different kind of King who brings peace. There were still so many people who could not recognize that God was living and walking among them when Jesus was alive. Accepting the gift of Jesus who brings this new way of living, a way of compassion, healing and authentic love means that we can recognize the truth and allow God to transform us with the power of authentic love. When we recognize and accept Jesus he leads us to a peace that passes all understanding. This is something to Praise God about but the great joy turns to sorrow when the end of the week finds Jesus being rejected, tortured and nailed to the cross.
Thousands of years have passed since Jesus was on the earth and we still experience this great struggle. We know the whole story. We know that Jesus even triumphed over death because he was resurrected. We still have a choice today. We can accept the ways of the world or we can follow Jesus. Our lives are filled with choices and experiences of joy and sorrow. We must learn to recognize the healing presence of God who is with us in so many ways. Just as there were people who recognized God when they saw Jesus we must learn to recognize this new kind of King who brings us to real peace by teaching us how to love. The greatest gift we will ever receive comes from accepting what Jesus taught and by following the example of how Jesus lived. Worldly power and greed does not accept the love of God which brings a heavenly peace.
What are the things that make peace? Jesus did not have a large army of soldiers with weapons and military strategies. War is not the way to peace. Violence begets violence it does not foster peace. Scripture scholar William Carter said that his father taught him that “we will never have peace on earth until we can quiet the wars within our own hearts.” The wars in our hearts come about when we experience rejection, hate, greed, unexpected suffering and turn our eyes away from God. When we do not recognize and we do not accept the love and peace that Jesus offers the wars within our hearts are not quiet. It takes great courage to love the way Jesus did. It takes great courage to stand up to worldly ways that want us to accept substitutes for true peace and true joy.
When the Pharisees told Jesus to stop his disciples from praising God in the procession to Jerusalem we find an important truth in Jesus’ response. He says “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Once people do accept the real thing that Jesus offers there is great joy and peace that cannot be silenced. We cannot silence the truth. But speaking truth to power upsets the status quo and is not well received. When we follow Jesus we will be in the struggle and will be faced with great joy and great sorrow. It is a happy sad. The good news is even when we encounter rejection suffering and death if we turn to Jesus and recognize his healing presence we will know great peace. We will find meaning in life and will tap into strength that we did not know we had. We will be lead by this different kind of King to authentic love, authentic living and new life. We will not be silenced by anyone because the great joy that comes from knowing and recognizing God quiets the wars within in our hearts and leads us to peace. We cannot be silenced because we have found great joy.
Are there any wars within your heart today? Are you happy and sad today? Draw near to this new kind of King and be transformed by the love, healing and truth that Jesus offers. What Jesus brings us cannot be silenced and if it is the stones will shout out because this new kind of King is the only King we will ever need. This new kind of King brings peace to heaven and earth. This new kind of King quiets the wars within our hearts and then we cannot be silenced.