Today is Palm Sunday, when we commemorate Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Multitudes cheered Him as He rode into the city, making a carpet of their cloaks and palm branches to show Him honor befitting a triumphant king.
Hosanna! (Oh, save us!) Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Such a contrast to a few days later, when some of the same crowd was calling for his execution, preferring to have a cold blooded murderer released from captivity in exchange for the man they’d been willing to hail as their Messiah.
The people of Israel clearly had expected Jesus to be a different sort of king than He was to become. They were looking for a a political figure who would rally the opposition… a conqueror who would raise up the people and rout their Roman overlords. Jesus meant to be nothing of the sort.
In today’s reading, earlier in Jesus’ ministry, His cousin John the Baptist had begun to hear stories of the miracles Jesus had been doing as He traveled, and sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus a pointed question: Are you the One we’ve been expecting? Are you really the Messiah, or should we be looking for another?
John was the one who baptized Jesus, and he witnessed the voice of God speaking aloud and the Spirit appearing as a dove. One might think that a pretty convincing display. John had been preaching for years to prepare the way for the kingdom of God, and even he questioned whether his expectations were being met.
Are you the One we’ve been expecting?
In answer to John’s question, Jesus spent the next few hours giving the gift of healing and deliverance to the people, and then he turned to John’s disciples.
Then he gave his answer: “Go back and tell John what you have just seen and heard:
The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth
have God’s salvation hospitality extended to them.
“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves fortunate!” (Luke 7:22-23, MSG)
In our own lives, there are times when God’s hand at work in our situation looks nothing like what we expect. We may look at our trials and declare them the work of the enemy, and pray for God to intervene, when God has purposed to bring us through, not take us out of the situation. We are expecting a conquering king to ride in and rout our enemies, when the Prince of Peace means to enter quietly and do His work from within.
Two thousand years ago in Jerusalem, and today in our own lives, Jesus comes not to meet our expectations, but to challenge and change our expectations.