Published Mar 28, 2023
From anger to zeal, Jesus possessed the full spectrum of human emotion. He rejoiced. He wept. He empathized. He anguished. Our divine God-with-us was also a passionate human being.
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on a day we call Palm Sunday, set in motion the “Passion Week” of Christ. Passion! Intensity of emotion. All four gospel writers record the activities of Palm Sunday when the prophecy of Zechariah was fulfilled–
“Rejoice greatly [passionately], O Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king
comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey …” Zechariah 9:9 NIV
The shout of “Daughter Jerusalem” resonated with prophetic language, also –
“Lord, save us! [Hosanna!] Lord, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Psalm 118: 25,26 NIV
The rich meaning of these prophetic cries was fully understood by Jesus; the complexity of deep emotions -they stirred in him. We cannot comprehend. Was there delight, knowing his life was a fulfillment of divine decree? Yes. Was there humility as he demonstrated his deference to the Word, entering not on a rearing stallion but lowly and riding on a donkey? Yes. Was there frustration, knowing the citizens beheld him through military-political glasses and not through a spiritual lens? Yes. Was there sorrow knowing this ‘coronation’ would devolve into a crucifixion – the only crown, a crown of thorns and the priests’ king, “only Caesar?” John 19:15. Yes! Yes, to all these emotions all at once and more. For those in the crowd and the disciples of Christ knew only the events of the moment. But Jesus knew the big picture – the bitterness of the betrayal and the denials to come. How did Jesus cope with the adulation of his entrance when the brutality of the cross lie ahead?
There is an answer to that question, a Scriptural answer, of course. It comes from the writer of Hebrews, one convinced of the supremacy of Christ in all things. And in the realm of Christ’s emotions, one passion reigned supreme.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
In the emotional maelstrom of prophetic thrill and popular misconception, painful abandonment, and piercing execution, there was the promise of ultimate joy. In the complex of feelings that besieged our Lord that Sunday of passion and prophecy, joy outshined all others. And so, Hebrews directs us there – “Fix your eyes on Jesus, who fixed his eyes on joy.”
The Palm Sunday prophecies were “amen” in Jesus. He WAS the coming King. He WOULD sit down “at the right hand of the throne of God.” He WAS the Savior; come in the name of the Lord to win our victory with his righteousness. But the ascension to that throne and the accomplishment of that victory would be the most painful road ever traveled. How? How did Jesus do it? By keeping his focus on joy. And not just the joy of His own deliverance, but the joy of our deliverance, too!
No doubt, we live in a broken world as confused as first-century Jerusalem. Health and economic losses, political upheaval, the fraying of social norms, and the weight of so many other life issues twist us up in emotional knots. How do we control our anger? How do we keep from withdrawing? Keep from … drowning in our tears?
We can remember this beautiful name of God …
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 ESV
When you are caught in the maelstrom, bowed by emotional burdens, God will lift your head!
The Father lifted Jesus’ head to show him the joy beyond the cross. And because of that, he endured.
And so will you.
This Palm Sunday, rejoice with great joy! With your head lifted up, fix your eyes on King Jesus. He has come to save you from every burden. He has ascended the throne of your heart. And praise God; the King is coming again!