8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.
– ”Matthew 21:8-11
You wouldn’t guess by reading this passage that the very next verses involve Jesus flipping tables, cursing fig trees, or debating religious elites. Yet, this is the picture of controversy that the gospel writers paint during Holy Week. Jesus’ kingdom values bumping up against the prevailing religious thoughts of the day. Not only did this crowd end up turning against Jesus, they called for his subsequent death via crucifixion. This is not the cheery scene Matthew paints in the opening of chapter 21 nor is Jesus the “sit on a throne” king the people expected. They wanted a king who would live and usurp Roman authorities but they received a savior who would die and wear a crown of thorns. The only thing that everyone seemed to be in unity about is that Jesus was not doing or saying what they wanted!
Do you resonate with that feeling of God coming up short of your expectations? What story are you telling yourself about what God has or has not done? Do you have one?
Maybe your story is that you thought Jesus cared about your well being, but how could he if you’ve lost your job?
Maybe your story is that you expected Jesus to help those who are marginalized but cannot line up how there are people in the world who are suffering today in a big way.
Maybe your story is that you expected Jesus to make your family whole again, but things have been nothing but difficult.
If this is you, I want to invite you to two things as you continue to engage with Holy Week and prepare your hearts for Easter Sunday….
- Write down your unmet expectation – If you watched our service Sunday this was the challenge we presented. Unmet expectations erode relationships with bitterness and anger. The same is true in our relationship with God. So pull out your phone, journal, or a pen and paper and write down that unmet expectation. It doesn’t guarantee it will all be solved, but your vulnerability is the first step to reconciliation and invites God into doing what he does best…make things right, whole, and beautiful.
- Embrace the truth about pain and doubt – In one of the greatest mysteries of Christianity, our doubt and suffering seems to draw us closer to God. His power, somehow, seems even more amplified in our world when we are vulnerable enough to name our questions, fears, and doubts about Jesus. So today I invite you to embrace the truth of the gospel: that even in the murkiness of our unmet expectations – we are still recipients of God’s love and grace through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Josh Afram, Family Pastor