Human history is full of examples of people, or groups of people in a nation or region, going into a frenzy when they think a saviour has finally appeared and is about to change their lives. Their enthusiasm becomes contagious and grows from happiness to adulation.
Usually these persons who are considered great leaders or even saviours project power and might in the way they talk and the promises they make or things they accomplish.
There was a particular day in human history over 2,000 years ago, when a great crowd gathered outside Jerusalem to welcome their Saviour. Excited, they waited for their expectation to become reality, their lives to change and be made easier, and peace to come in their time.
This event is recorded by all the Gospel writers. It was about five days before Passover, the most important feast. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims would come to Jerusalem.
When people saw Jesus coming – they spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the field. Those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:8-10)
But while the crowds were crying out with joy, Jesus was crying with anguish. They danced but he wept, both for the same reason: because the people failed to recognize that God himself had come down among them. They thought he was the Messiah they wanted – but he knew they had already rejected the Messiah He was.
They missed the time of their saviour’s visitation. Why? Because they were blind to reality and deaf to the truth. They did not know they needed a Saviour. What they wanted was a king, and when they saw him, they cheered.
But Jesus saw beyond the pleasantries and superficialities. He saw the city. Actually, He saw the hearts of those in the city. So much in the world is superficial. Beautiful Jerusalem, the pomp and ceremony of the occasion – yet Jesus saw beyond the outward beauty. And what He saw made Him weep.
These were not tears of joy, but of sorrow. Jesus was not misled by the excitement of the moment. He knew that He was entering the city, not for His coronation, but for His crucifixion.
On Palm Sunday, many celebrate and say that peace has come. But Jesus’ response is: “If you only knew what can bring you peace, you would receive peace and salvation.”
Jesus sees beyond the outward in a church. In Revelation 2:2, we read: “I know your works.” He sees beyond the outward in our lives. The facade that hides inward sin, the smile that hides inward tear, the cheerful greetings that hide pain. He cares about our pain.
In this passage, the people were shouting “Hosanna, the King is coming!” but we see that Jesus was filled with pain and He was detached. Rather than lifting His hands in victory as a politician or conquering general might do, He was subdued and sad. And when He saw Jerusalem, he began to weep – not for Himself, but for the city and the people.
Just as the people who invited Him in as their king that day but wanted Him dead the next day, many today celebrate Palm Sunday one day and forget about Jesus the next.
Yes, Jesus knew what would happen to the city and to the people of the city for rejecting Him and His message. He said: “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in an every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and your children within your walls. They will not leave a stone on another.” (Luke 19:43-44)
Why? “Because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
This prophecy came true with a vengeance. A Roman army took the city, massacred men, women and children. It was the greatest slaughter of that time.
Jesus had entered Jerusalem to bring peace and salvation to all those who would invite Him into their lives and hearts. But the people did not want Him. They had no room for Him.
Jesus still wants to bring peace and life to all who welcome Him into their lives and hearts. He is the only answer to the problems that nations and people face! When Jesus comes into a home, a city, a nation, or a heart, He comes to bring peace, salvation and godliness.
The people then missed their day of His visitation. Please do not miss your day of His visitation.
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian