This Sunday is Palm Sunday and as I have been preparing it reminded me of something that I all too often forget that Jesus gives me what I need, not what I want.
I always found Easter week confusing as a child in Sunday school. Back then the height of technology was flannelgraph, cloth pictures that were stuck to a board to tell a story. I still vividly remember realizing that the picture of the crowd Mrs Currie my Sunday School teacher put up to represent the crowd calling for Jesus’ death was the same picture that she had used for the crowd enthusiastically welcoming Jesus on Palm Sunday. My five-year-old self was confused about how people who seemed so enthusiastic about Jesus turned on him so quickly.
My 57-year-old self thinks I know the answer now, Jesus gave them what they needed not what they wanted.
The crowds in Jerusalem mobbed Jesus because they believed he was coming to be their Messiah, their anointed God-given King. They believed the Messiah would be a warrior who would lead them to defeat the Romans, kick them out of the country, and set up fully the Kingdom of God.
They wanted a military Messiah; they wanted a powerful leader who would use violence to defeat their enemies. When Jesus didn’t call for open revolt, hand out swords and lead a charge on the Roman fortress in Jerusalem many people went from cheering for Jesus to outright hostility to Jesus.
Yet we now know that on Good Friday Jesus gave the people of Jerusalem (and the world) not what they wanted but what they needed, a saviour.
Jesus would indeed be the Messiah but by being the suffering servant of Isaiah, not an all-conquering war hero. Jesus would set them free, but from more powerful and oppressive enemies than the Romans, Satan, sin, and death. Jesus came to be the Messiah by giving his life as a ransom, that’s what the people needed even if it wasn’t what they wanted.
I look back on my life and I can see there is some of the Jerusalem mob in me. I become disappointed and even resentful when Jesus gives me not what I want but what I need. So this upcoming Holy Week I am going to remind myself that if Jesus doesn’t always give me what I want, He can be trusted to always give me what I need.