The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. John 12:12-16 ESV
If you have had the opportunity in these last few weeks to be on a video conference call with a company that rhymes with “boom,” you might have added a virtual background to your personal screen during the session. The pre-designed backgrounds, of which there are many, help place you in a setting which conveys part of your personal creativity. It also depicts your longing for somewhere you’d like to be, other than stuck at home. These backgrounds are a blast and add some humor to the seriousness that hangs over each of us. I am grateful for technology to reach the people who make up my life with a swipe and click.
Our world as we know it has intrinsically changed now and for the future. Maybe for you it’s already been acutely changed by someone who is sick whom you cannot care for or visit. Or not being able to get supplies you normally can readily get. Assessing how and when you’ll make a trip to the grocery store is a new thought process. Maybe you’re experiencing some emotional distress as a result of loss of income or job vulnerability. To be sure, these defined calamities have caused me to step back and assess where I am spiritually, emotionally and physically. To be honest they have caused me to fight off fear and doubt.
As I write this, the timing and texture of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday through Easter, affords an interesting closeness to our current situation. I am moved to think about my reality or background, if you will, and how it coincides with that of the early disciples. Like the disciples, we’ve been thrust into a sea of uncertainty–spiritual, emotional, political, relational, to name a few. They, like us, were handling the rise and fall of expectations that calamities bring: whether we’ll choose to trust a greater purpose or turn and succumb to the naysayers. I imagine they were even like me, taking one day at a time or even living hour by hour. We can easily look to the early disciples who did some of the “emotional groundwork” for us 21st century Christ followers.
Like the disciples, I find my context, my circumstances, my environment have caused my faith to be tested. My current situation has put me in a place of asking some tough questions for now and the future. And that’s ok. Did you know in the Gospels Jesus answered 113 questions, 61 of which were from others? Jesus proved He is available with compassion to hear and understand our human need for divine wisdom and direction.
So, Jesus, I am asking. I am asking will I get sick and possibly die? Will my children walk through this time emotionally sound? Will my friends be well as they serve on the front lines of healthcare facilities? Will the senior adults I know die alone? Tough questions. Not all can be answered on a simple 2+2=4 plane. Some questions will not get answered.
With certainty I can say this: Whether I’ll get those answers or not, I have chosen to follow the ONE who is the source of the answered and unanswered questions in my life. Fortunately for us, His Word holds the answers to what we seek. His Word is the blueprint we need even when uncertainty looms and causes us to doubt. His Word is the bank we draw from daily for all of our needs.
Looking to John 12, the description of Jesus’ triumphal entry brings us great hope. It’s a place we can find assurance in the actions and words of people in need. The excitement and joy jump off the page! We can hear and glean from the written word the attitude of the people who so longed for Him to come and deliver them. They waved palm branches as a sign of victory and praise and said, “Blessed is HE who comes.” He was King over their future which, at that very moment, was unclear to most of them who came to Jerusalem.
The toll this disaster has dumped on our lives has yet to be tallied. For sure, we will not be the same as people or as a nation. But in Christ, I can go forward and choose to live triumphantly while I wait on the answers we seek. I can walk in faith, knowing God is faithful, and like those who walked before me, say: “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.”