the other day i noticed a trickle of incoming readers to a post i’d written back in 2009 about palm sunday. i clicked through and re-read it. here’s what i wrote back then:
this morning in church, hearing the teaching pastor talk about the events of palm sunday, it struck me how this story is such a clear expression of god’s grace to us. here’s jesus, riding the colt into jerusalem, with everyone all pumped up about “the prophet” coming. they laid down palm branches and shouted hosanna and all that. the buzz about jesus had reached a fever pitch after word of lazarus being raised from the dead in the nearby town of bethany. clearly, this was the prophet moses had promised would come.
and, of course, the whole time, jesus knew what was coming his way in the next week.
this is where the grace part struck me: jesus accepted their praise.
jesus accepted their praise knowing fully that they would turn on him within days.
i think i’ve always thought of this story in terms of “them” — those people who would so quickly turn on jesus. today, i was struck by how it’s my story also.
jesus shows me the same grace every time i acknowledge him, every time i choose to follow him, every time i give him praise. he knows that, just like those palm-waving peeps that day, i’ll quickly turn away, betray him (and what he stands for), choose my own way, discredit him, praise myself, or ignore him.
and yet he accepts my praise.
mmm, this is grace.
what really struck me as i read those thoughts, though, was the timing i couldn’t see when i wrote it. this post was written about a month before i shut down my blog and all social media. i was heading into the hardest months of my life, trying desperately (and failing) to keep the ministry i loved from falling apart or being dismantled. and in the end (later that year), i lost my job and parts of the ministry got sold off anyhow. more than 20 people lost their jobs, and a few more chose to leave on their own.
in the wake of that mess, i was lost for a while. i wrestled with god and questioned everything from my own identity to any possibility of a hopeful future to theo-practical questions about god’s goodness. eventually, hope arrived (with the presence of jesus, as it does). (btw: i wrote about this extensively in my book Hopecasting.)
little did i realize on that palm sunday in 2009 that the grace i was reflecting on was soon to become so intensely and desperately needed in my own life.
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