It was like they were excited for the parade’s sake, without a clue what was about to happen.
And what has stuck with me about the sermon isn’t just the people’s confusion over the triumphant entry. It is how easy it was for them to completely miss the point.
The Jewish people wanted a king to come rule their earthly kingdom.
Instead they got a man with unkempt hair, calloused hands, who washed people’s feet.
They didn’t get some scholarly superstar, they got a guy who hung out with sinners and asked a lot of questions (one with a real penchant for pissing off the religious rulers of the time).
He didn’t seem to want power, much less a throne.
Instead He wanted children to freely come to Him.
He wanted blind people to see, and poor people to eat.
He wanted his closest friends to go out and invite others into the fellowship they shared.
He wanted to hang out on fishing boats, dine with tax collectors, and shirk almost every social norm of the time.
He wanted equality for the outsiders and freedom for the oppressed.
And He wanted for people to love God and to love each other.
I grew up believing that I understood that about Jesus.
I thought I understood Jesus, in fact.
But lately I can’t help but wonder if I was wrong.
I wonder if I too have missed the point, His main points.
I wonder if I’m not so different from those confused people laying palms on the ground, without really knowing why.
The people at that first Easter-week parade might not have understood Jesus fully, but if I’m honest with myself, neither have I.
And I'm beginning to think the man they saw riding into town on a donkey, looked a lot different from the Jesus I’ve imagined all these years.
During election season I had a really hard time sitting idly by while people tried to tie Jesus to their political platforms of choice.
“Stand up straight Jesus. Be still Jesus. Don’t say that Jesus. Now smile pretty for the cameras.”
It sickened me to see My Savior so misrepresented, capitalized on.
But I didn’t – or I refused to – stop and realize the co-op of Jesus hardly ends there.
We want Crest-whitestripped Jesus to sit in the front row of
our church on Sunday mornings.
We want Him to be clean-shaven, and easily controlled, like a Manchurian candidate, instead of the Son of Man.
A carpenter, rough around the edges, hipster-ish Jesus might fly at brunch in Austin on a Saturday morning.
But when Sunday rolls around we prefer Him in a pressed suit and a trimmed face.
We can’t impress company with a sandal-wearing man at the dinner table, so we make subtle changes to Him.
We dress Him up in our image.
And the changes we have made might have started subtly, or occurred so gradually over time, that we may not even realize what we’ve really done.
We’ve fashioned “God” in our image.
And I think that’s worse than failing to recognize Jesus for who He really is.
The older I get the more I question the shiny, boxed-up Jesus I so easily accepted as a child.
Do I really want a Savior with a Mattel logo in the corner?
One that can be purchased, with a coupon, from Mardel: Christian Bookstore?
Sure, that cuddly Jesus I grew up with was handsome, and blue-eyed, and easy to relate to, ‘cause he seemed so much like me.
But it’s hard to find that Jesus in the pages of the Bible.
It’s hard to picture that soft-spoken, meek Jesus having run-ins with the Pharisees.
It’s hard to reconcile the man I’ve imagined, with the Jesus of Nazareth that rode in on a donkey on the first Palm Sunday.
I don’t want to trade in my curly, blonde-haired, carry-him-in-my-pocket Jesus for a rugged, hard-to-understand man that lived and died long before I was born.
I don’t want to rethink everything I’ve ever believed (just as I’m sure the Jewish people of His day didn’t want to either).
No one ever wants to have her world rocked, or her secure, simple faith shattered.
No one wants to have expectations crushed, foundations questioned.
No one excitedly invites doubt to creep in.
But I’m wondering if profound faith, by nature, must remain unfathomable.
And I’m wondering if Christ was meant to be understood, as much as He was meant to be encountered.
And I’m wondering if I’m willing to let go of everything I thought I knew, in order to truly meet a man that changed the world with his radical ideas and unconditional love.
I used to approach Easter with confidence, gratitude.
I was thankful I had figured God out, and considered myself on his A-Team.
This year I find myself far less sure of myself or my place.
I find myself facing more questions than answers.
But I’m surprisingly grateful.
Because this feels like a chance to throw palms down before a mysterious Messiah.