Being a Baptist located in the southern half of the country (yes sweet tea is my blood type) Palm Sunday may have been a special day at church, but it is not a special day within the community. According to the Pastor on Sunday, in the North East, Palm Sunday means that many businesses will shut down, and he was surprised when he relocated that this was not the case in the Bible Belt.
Personally, Palm Sunday was educational, often accompanied with a drama presentation, maybe some giant leaf fronds, or singing, most often it was gearing up for Easter itself. However, during the Pastor’s message the overriding principles of Palm Sunday struck me.
You’ve probably heard the story tons of times: Jesus is in the town, He rides a donkey, the people throw their coats down on the road, they wave palm fronds, and shout “Hosanna.” (Of course only to have their opinions about him change within the next few days). They thought their foretold King was coming, and they did get that part right. The problem is, that they imagined Jesus and His purpose to fit their plans. They had false expectations. It is true that Jesus came to save the people, but instead, to save them from their sins, not to (immediately) save them from the oppression of Rome. They expected a conquering King who would lead them to victory, and Jesus instead showed him a compassionate lamb who would go wordlessly to the slaughter. (And trust me, Jesus is not the “love only type”…He can bring it better than Yoda in Episodes 2 and 3. Jesus is all loving, but in and through His love, He is perfectly righteous and just, which requires the punishment of sin)..
It makes me reflect on how much I struggle day to day with false expectations of Jesus, how He promised my life would be, how I plan/think my life to be. Within the past two years I’ve graduated college, gotten married, and really begun my life as an adult. I am also the type that needs a plan for my life. I like having my agenda to write things in, to color code my classes and events (mostly because it looks pretty). I think that because I am a Christian my life should be the following: good (based on my definition), easy, without trials, and I nor the people around me should ever fail. Then, when those things happen, when I experience miscommunication with the Husband, frustrations with a paper I’m writing, or delayed in traffic, I can become so frustrated and bitter with my life. I think “you know, Jesus, I’m a Christian, I’ve surrendered my life to you….now can’t you give me what I want for my life? Can’t you bless my marriage, can’t you help me by never being stuck in traffic or never experiencing car problems? Remember, I’ve laid down my life to be called by your name” haha. Of course most of that is based on the ideas presented within culture that I am prone to adopting (the other part is my own sinful nature).
Exodus 20: 4-5a 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them
I have been the countries like Thailand, where people are literally bowing down to a Jade statue of a religious figure. It broke my heart, I was frustrated about how in the United States so many Pastors will teach on the “idols of …. money, sex, popularity” when there are people around the world who really worship empty statues. However, the truth is, to worship any false imaged, even a false image of God and Jesus, is just like bowing down to an empty statue with stone features.
|Outside of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand in Summer 2009.|
What false images of God and Jesus are you worshiping today?