Today our Lord Jesus Christ enters into Jerusalem, hailed as the King of Israel. A great multitude of people greet Him with palm branches and cry out: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
All of Jerusalem turns out to greet their Messiah, an event which had been prophesied and anticipated for many ages. Our Lord had been ministering to the people: teaching, healing, and performing miracles of compassionate love for three years. His fame and the news of His miracles had spread far and wide, and now, with His entry into Jerusalem, the people of Israel were taken up with enthusiasm that their King had arrived and that the time of their triumph would soon be inaugurated.
These people were expecting Christ to reign as an earthly king… that the time was at hand when Israel would overthrow the tyranny of Rome; and Jesus Christ, one of their own, would sit on the throne of Israel as their king. Their reading of the prophecies were earthly and even the disciples of the Lord continued to misunderstand the otherworldly message of Christ.
Imagine how shocked and disillusioned they all must have been when Christ was arrested, mocked and scourged, and paraded through the streets of Jerusalem as a common criminal to then be crucified amid thieves. This was an earth shattering and soul shattering event!
But what was Christ’s message from the very beginning of His earthly ministry? He Who was born in such lowly circumstances in a cave in Bethlehem, Who had not a place to lay His head as He wandered from town to town ministering to the poor and the outcasts. He emphasized over and over again that His Kingdom was not of this world. But the people would not hear it.
And what about us? Do we hear the voice of Christ Who calls us to that which is higher, greater, and eternal? Where is our focus and where is our hope? Where do we seek satisfaction and happiness? Is it in the things of this world? Is it in our achievements, our business, the pursuit of the gratification of our senses? And when these things do not provide us that lasting joy, or when the inevitable difficulties of life create obstacles to our worldly pursuits, does this derail us and lead us to despair?
Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul from this morning’s Epistle reading:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, these are the treasures which are eternal. These are the attributes of Christ’s Kingdom - which is not of this world, which is heavenly and which is also within us.
And this exortation of the Apostle Paul to think on those things which are pure, which are lovely, which are of the Kingdom of God… to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let our requests be made known to God. This is the perfect prescription for our times, for today. We may think on these things no matter where we are… in church, at work, or at home. For what does the Apostle say will be the result of keeping our hearts and our minds on such heavenly things? He says: the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus! And the God of peace will be with you!
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Isn’t this what we seek? Isn’t this what we need amid the anxieties and fears of the world today?
We are now moving into Holy Week and the events of the final days of Christ’s earthly ministry. Let us raise up our minds from the distractions and worries of the world and turn our attention to what is true, what is noble, what is just and pure and lovely. Let us take up our Gospels this week and read through those chapters detailing the events which took place during the final days of our Lord’s earthly life. Let us read our Lord’s words and sympathize with Him in our spirit as He states, ‘Now My heart is troubled…’, as he looks upon His sleeping disciples and asks, ‘Could you not stay awake to keep watch and pray with Me?’.
Let us watch and pray this week. Though we cannot be together in the Church for the services of Holy Week, let us meet each other in spirit and in prayer as you view the services online. Let us transport ourselves to be there in spirit with our Lord as He endures the arrest, the trial, the mockings, and His sacrifice upon the cross. If we immerse ourselves in these events of Holy Week, our joy in greeting the news of Christ’s glorious resurrection will be all the more bright and radiant.
May God give us the strength and attention to watch and pray, that we may be with Him this week in His sorrows as we await the joyful news of our Lord’s resurrection in just one week’s time.