I grew up going to various church camps, retreats, and mission trips. Compelling sermons would stir something within me. We all know the feeling—the “high” we get when our faith is validated and renewed after spending time in intense worship, service, scripture study, and fellowship. In those moments, I envision myself on the streets of Jerusalem waving my palm branch and shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem “stirred” the whole city, and they asked, “Who is this?” The crowd’s response? “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” I readily identify with this response. This is my cry, as though I’m energized by the idea that I understand something others don’t. In this moment, I decide that Jesus is the one who inspires me to live a meaningful life but disregard the difficulties that await when I truly accept who Jesus is.
The story could have easily ended here, but we know that our God is not the Creator who says, “This will suffice.” We have a God who doesn’t stop until he sees that it is good. Eventually, the pomp and circumstance pauses. There is a painful journey to the cross that is full of betrayal and denial that leads to the ultimate sacrifice. But we know that there is also the resurrection. Only then, is it finished.
When I look at the Holy Week story in full, I don’t think it’s an accident that we experience something similar as we come down from the spiritual mountain top. A painful reality sets in as we take our crosses and follow Jesus for who he really is. This journey makes me realize that on my own, I am a Palm Sunday person. But because of the cross and resurrection, we become Easter people. I can weep through the trials and still victoriously wave my branches, because my Savior lives.