Ever feel like quitting? Ever think you can not go another day?
We all have. Yes, even Christ-followers.
Disappointment is one of the greatest reasons for doubt and few things are as disappointing as betrayal. The Lord Jesus understands the pain of our disappointment. He experienced it.
Palm Sunday brings to mind cheering crowds waving palm branches as Christ approaches Jerusalem. It was a thrilling spectacle. Finally, Jesus was getting the respect and honor He deserves - or so it seemed.
In less than a week, some of the very people who had shouted, "Hosannah!"1 (Mt. 21:9) would shout, "Crucify Him!" (Mt. 27:22).
Throughout His life, the Lord knew what it was for people to forsake Him (Is. 53:3) -- even His very own (Jn. 1:11). Disappointment was a pain He knew very well.
Everyone knows about the shocking betrayal of Jesus by Judas. It was shocking to everyone but Jesus. The Lord wasn't surprised (Mt. 26:21-25). He knew all about men (Jn. 2:25), even what they are thinking (Lk. 6:8).
Neither was Christ wasn't caught off guard by His disciples' scattering when He was arrested in the garden. Peter's denial was not only unsurprising to Jesus, He even warned Peter that his loyalty wouldn't last under pressure (Lk. 22:34).
We read of fickle followers who wanted to "make Him king," yet abandoned Him when He laid down the demands of discipleship (Jn. 6:15, 66). Some of those He healed should have expressed their gratitude to Him, but forgot about Him after He had made them whole (Lk. 17:11-19).
And who can forget the poignant picture of the Savior of the world approaching Jerusalem on what we call "Palm Sunday," bursting into tears and saying, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes" (Luke 19:42).
The word used of Jesus' weeping is the same word used to describe:
People in and around Bethlehem wailing following the slaughter of their sons by Herod
Mary grieving over her brother, Lazarus' death
Mary Magdalen's dismay over not finding Jesus' body in the tomb
Jarius' family at the death of his daughter
The widow's cry at the death of her only son
Jesus didn't weep like this at Lazarus' tomb and even the torture of crucifixion couldn't wring these tears out of the Lord.
Why was the Lord grieving so deeply here?
The pain and grief He experienced weeping over Jerusalem were greater than His sadness at Lazarus' tomb and even worse than what His body felt on the cross. He burst into tears heartbroken over the tragic future awaiting those who rejected Him.
Far worse than the agony He would suffer during His crucifixion was the pain He felt knowing the people had missed their opportunity. While the Lord heard their shouts of praise, He saw the shallowness of their commitment and burst into tears.
Truly, He was a man "acquainted with grief" (Is. 53:4).
What Jesus' followers thought was a great day, Jesus knew the praise was only superficial and would not last. Much like Israel and Judah's faithfulness, the people's enthusiasm and commitment to Christ was like the morning mist and early dew, it "disappears" (Hos. 6:4).
One would expect that most Christ-followers are looking forward to Easter, inviting their friends to join them on Resurrection Sunday, and praying God will make it a great day, but please bear in mind, Easter IS a great day regardless of what we do!
Jesus was Lord when insincere people cheered for Him and when they called for His death.
He was Lord while He walked on water and when His body lay in the cold tomb.
Jesus was Lord when He rose from the dead and when He stood at the Father's right hand while they stoned Stephen.
He is as much Lord today as He was on that first Easter morning and He will be Lord whether your circumstances are bad and your friends disappoint you.
He has always been Lord and forevermore shall reign! Hallelujah!
The sinless Son of God truly rose from the grave making a way for all to be forgiven and experience eternal life. Easter Sunday and every Sunday are resurrection Sundays and great days for those who have surrendered to follow Christ.
We should invite our friends to join us. We should pray for God to fill every biblical church with worshippers. We should long for Christ to get the glory He deserves. But we would be wise to get our joy from Jesus and not from superficial people.
So, whether friends respond to your invitations and join you in worship or even whether your body is strong enough to allow you to gather with other believers Sunday, Jesus is Lord and He loves you!
Remember, a lot can happen in a week. But whatever happens, Jesus is Lord!
1 "'Hosanna' originally meant God save us but by the first century was probably just a cry of praise to Yahweh." Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 313.