Hosanna: Finding Myself in the Crowds
'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'
Shouting fills the air, and clothing and palm branches are flung exuberantly to the ground as a Man proceeds slowly through the mob astride a donkey. The disciples flank Him on either side, protecting Him from the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Exultation, victory, and adoration mingle with the swirling dust.
'Crucify Him! Crucify Him!'
Fists lifted against the sky. A wall of rejection flung into the bleeding face of a Man who droops between His two guards.
'We'd rather have a criminal than this Man!'
Anger, hatred, fear sullying the atmosphere.
I wonder sometimes if the crowd of the triumphal entry and the group who condemned Jesus to His death were comprised of any of the same people. I wonder what convinced them to turn against their Chosen One so quickly. The Bible states that the religious leaders 'persuaded' the crowd at Pilate's judgement to call for Jesus' crucifixion. How were they persuaded? Bribes? Lies? Disillusionment that this Messiah wasn't doing all they'd expected of Him? Shame at having a seemingly-powerless man presented to them as a mockery of a king?
It's a question I've speculated on for several years, but I have realized that to dwell too long on all the possibilities is to miss the lesson found in the events. The truth that
We are the crowds
We, the fickle-hearted, carried along by waves of excitement, emotion, public opinion, personal comfort...
We are the ones exalting Jesus one day and screaming 'crucify Him!' the next. The convenient, non-threatening Jesus who behaves in the way we like is greeted with cries of welcome. The Lord who lays rightful claim to body, soul and mind and asks us to die with Him is nailed to a cross.
Jesus is our Savior. Blessed is He!
Forsake everything and follow Me. Crucify Him!
For God so loved the world. Blessed is He!
Love those that hate you. Crucify Him!
Do we proclaim blessings only because we see Jesus as our friend, our personal talisman against catastrophe, our 'get out of Hell free' card?
Do we reject Jesus because we've realized that following Him means surrendering our lives completely to His control, renouncing pride and worldly security and selfishness, and allowing Him to lead us into places where our flesh would rather not go?
This Easter season, I'm moved to ponder these hard questions. I'm asking God to show me the remaining areas of my life where my cries of 'blessed is He' are not the result of true worship, and illuminate the dark corners of my being where my flawed expectations of Jesus have not been met and I seek to do away with Him.
Hosanna...come and save us...save us from the darkness without, but even more importantly, rescue us from the darkness within.