Palm Sunday: Jesus Wept

Jesus wept

During his ministry, our Lord poured his heart and soul into healing, teaching, comforting, and giving hope to everyone he came across. But often his teaching was ignored and overlooked and his miracles were questioned and challenged. It is only during his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday that it feels like Jesus is finally being recognized and appreciated by the public. It was a precious and rare joyous moment. The people – young and old, men and women, locals and pilgrims from every corner of Israel, were greeting their Messiah with palm branches and praises. It was undoubtedly a joyous moment – which is also clearly expressed in the way we celebrate and understand Palm Sunday today – when we decorate our churches, sing phrases, and do processions with Palm branches.

But is such joyous interpretation and understanding of Palm Sunday missing an important detail? I think it does. What we often overlook is the verse following directly the depiction of the Palm Sunday where we read that while everyone was rejoicing and celebrating, the Lord wept (Luke 19:41). That is strange. Why is the Lord weeping? Why is he upset? He was weeping for Jerusalem and Israel who continuously throughout history failed to recognize the presence and guidance of the living God in our lives. But I think He was also weeping for his beloved disciples whose faith would be shaken from its very foundation when they would see him betrayed, humiliated, tortured, crucified and killed. I think He was weeping for the cheerful crowd which only a few days later would be screaming “crucify him” and demanding his execution.

Beloved brother and sister in Christ, Palm Sunday is not so much a story about Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem as it is about me and you and what we do when our fate is shaken, when we witness justice violated, when things don’t work out the way we hoped and expected and when it appears that God abandoned us. Do we allow the cold and cruel injustice of this world to tear apart our faith in Christ into pieces, whisper into our ears that our suffering is proof that there is no God or that He simply does not care? Do we turn against God and faith like the cheerful crowd of the Palm Sunday or run away and hide like the disciples? ? Or do we stand with Christ, continue believing, hoping, and praying that He sustains us and our faith and leads us to his harbor or safety and peace to whom glory and honor forever, amen.

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