Thoughts on Jesus’ triumphant arrival in Jerusalem for Passover
“At first his disciples did not understand all of this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.” — John 12:16
Jesus made his grand entrance into Jerusalem on the heels of raising Lazarus, “the one [Jesus] love[s],” from the dead. The crowds that greeted Him knew of the miracle Jesus performed in raising Lazarus from the dead. In addition to celebrating Jesus’ arrival, they celebrated Judas Maccabeus, who defeated the Greeks and set the conditions for an independent Jewish dynasty that lasted until just before Jesus’ birth. In this context, the throngs of people in the streets praising Jesus as the King of Israel had living memory of independence from Rome and thought they were seeing the next king who would defeat the Roman Empire. They didn’t understand that what they were witnessing was indeed the arrival of The King; they had their sights set lower. The people and Jesus’ disciples lacked the insight to see what was unfolding in much grander terms.
As I reflect on John 12, I think that it’s very easy for all of us to miss out on what we’re seeing because the moment sweeps us up in the same way Jesus’ arrival did. The moment can be so overwhelming and so emotional that we get carried away without recognizing the strategic implications of what’s actually happening. It’s not until later, with hindsight, that we see what the moment was really about. The risk of using that 20/20 hindsight is that the opportunity of the moment may pass us by. The power of the moment can be so dominant, but we need to take a deep breath, pause, and fall back on the biblical truths we know.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” — Ecclesiastes 3:1–8
There is a time for everything that happens to us — good and bad. We’re due for both laughter and tears. There are going to be some bad days. Things won’t go right. People will let us down at the worst times. When those times arrive, and it looks like we’re collectively in one of those times, remember that it’s not always going to be bleak, and we know Who has the final say. Psalm 30 tells us that we may cry for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Those tough times we go through make those rejoicing times so much sweeter, don’t they?
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” — Matthew 6:27
This particular moment presents a unique challenge to our worrying selves — an invisible enemy upends our lives, hurting our economic security, clouding the future, and even bringing death to our doorsteps. The coronavirus can be scary and worrisome if we let it. But aside from taking the precautions public health experts tell us to use, what can we do to fight the virus (if you’re a virologist, no need to answer!)? We don’t know what our retirement accounts will look like when this is passes; we don’t know what the kids will do missing so much school; and, we don’t know who else this virus will come for. Uncertainty reigns. But if God takes care of the birds of the air and provides what they need, won’t He do the same for us? We know this at some level. We just need to take a second to remind ourselves of that sometimes. Don’t let the moment overwhelm us.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28
Everything that’s happening around us isn’t the result of some random chain of events. When you think about it, everything had to happen in just the right order at only the right time to get to this moment. Recognize that all of those things are part of a much broader and grander plan than we can understand. We don’t always know how or why God does what He does; we just know that all of those actions serve His purpose. Our task is to do what we can to support that purpose. If we don’t stop for a second to think about that, we may miss out on an opportunity to do so.
View this time as a chance to renew and re-center ourselves. This is a chance to renew our family ties, to get the rest the daily rat race denies us, and to do the things we never make the time for. In our house, we’ve shared so many meals as a family, and that’s one of the things I’m so thankful for. As I look at my oldest son who just turned 18, I know that the days of having all of us around the table are fleeting and running out. I’m grateful for this opportunity to have just a few more meals together. I’m usually up at 4:30 am to get to work where I’m there until around 6 pm. By the end of a typical week, I look forward to getting a little more sleep, which I never really happens. It can sometimes feel like a grind. But at this time, I’ve been able to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night. It’s done wonders for my outlook and spirit. I’ve also been able to reach out to people and stay in touch in a way I simply didn’t before. Healthy relationships are so meaningful to our well-being, and this time is an opportunity to strengthen them. I’ve also been able to read and write in a way I hadn’t in a long time. Despite the troubles COVID-19 has brought into our lives, we can look to the opportunity God has presented to us. We just need to remember this is part of His plan.