by: Jeff Poppinga
Good afternoon! I pray that that the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom 15:13).
As we approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week what should we think about? What was Jesus thinking about as he approached Jerusalem? Most of us think of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday as days of joy and celebration. Was Jesus celebrating as he approached Jerusalem? Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he drew near (Luke 19:41-44) and lamented over Jerusalem during Holy Week (Matthew 23:37-39). As Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the shouts of "Hosanna" he saw beyond the seen. His disciples saw the enthusiasm of the crowds. Jesus saw the sinful fickleness of the crowds. His disciples felt momentum and interpreted it as their ascent to the throne. Jesus felt the agony of death and understood it as his descent to the cross. Jesus wept and lamented over the sin of the people in Jerusalem. Jesus wept and lamented over sin because the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).
When was the last time we wept over sin? When was the last time we lamented sin in the church or sin in our nation? When we read in James 4:9, "Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom" do we find it confusing (at best) or revolting (at worst)? A person cannot truly enjoy Easter without truly understanding sin and sinfulness. And a true understanding of sin and sinfulness will lead us to mourn and weep and "humble ourselves before the Lord" (James 4:10). Sin is so serious that God had to send his only Son to rescue us from it. Sin was so serious that "Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:5c-8). If sin is that serious then sin isn't something to trivialize or minimize or rationalize. Sin is something to weep over and lament. As we head into Palm Sunday and Holy Week let's remember the words of Jesus who said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matt 5:4).