It’s Easter week.
Jesus rode victoriously into Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13).
Days later, Jesus was led out of Jerusalem, in agony, to the sneers and jeers of people who didn’t know they were slandering God’s holy Son.
How could so much change in just a week’s time?
I saw a recent survey on our local ABC news. It’s expected that only 28 percent of our nation will attend church this Easter Sunday.
A lot has changed about Easter week in my lifetime as well.
AT FIRST, DISILLUSIONED
The people were thrilled to see Jesus arrive in Jerusalem. The crowds incited shouts of joyful praise. They waved palm branches as they hailed their King. But, when he was arrested, they fled, disappointed and disillusioned. They misunderstood God’s plan.
There are a lot of people in our country who will have a difficult time shouting praises to God this Easter. They have lost someone they loved. They have been hurt financially. They are disappointed in the politics of the day. And, the evening news reminds them that those who attend church on Easter are a minority.
All of us have been disillusioned with God at some point. We thought he promised one thing, but he gave us something else. We are like the Easter crowds in Jerusalem. Sometimes we misunderstand God’s plan.
But those who are disillusioned by a tough year should remember that Easter provided God’s eternal plan. We can still misunderstand his higher purpose.
The people thought Jesus would become a king. He was supposed to run Rome out of Israel and establish Jewish leaders on their throne. When Rome captured Jesus, the disappointment set in.
It’s remarkable because they had seen his miracles. They had listened to Jesus preach. They had seen that he was no ordinary man. What they didn’t understand was that they wanted the ordinary but got extraordinary instead.
The people wanted a king for their daily lives. God gave them a King for their eternal lives.
It’s easy to be disappointed in God when we want him to fix things on earth. God’s plan has never made what is temporary more important than what is eternal.
NEXT, HOPEFULLY CONFUSED
When they hung Jesus on the cross, the believers were devasted. When they heard the tomb was empty, they were hopefully confused.
Jesus had told them what would happen, and it did. He was raised to life again. The final sacrifice had been made for the sake of every soul that had ever lived or ever would live. They had shouted “Hosanna” and now they were blessed by the One who had come in the name of the Lord. The One who had blessed them was a King. But, Jesus was a King like no other.
Jesus didn’t die so that people could have mansions on earth. He died so people could have mansions in heaven. His promises were filled with eternal hope and eternal priorities.
Yet, many people have been hopefully confused about how it can all be true. Many of the people around you hope the Easter story is true but are confused about why it is true. They lack the faith to believe.
It’s remarkable because there are still miracles. We have a Bible filled with the preaching of Jesus. We know he was no ordinary man. Is it possible people still want Jesus to be a king on earth? His throne has always been, and always will be, in heaven.
Jesus didn’t come to make earth his home; he came to make heaven our hope.
FINALLY, THE ANSWER BECAME CLEAR
The tomb was empty because Jesus didn’t plan to make this earth his home. Jesus made his followers his temporary dwelling on earth.
The disciples had gathered on the Mount of Ascension. They asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
Even after the resurrection, the people still wanted Jesus to come back and be an earthly king.
Jesus answered them with a clear message. He didn’t give his life for the sake of life on earth. Jesus answered his disciples with their new priority. Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7–8).
Jesus spoke to anyone who would be a disciple and told them he would transform their lives to be a witness to the world. The answer became clear. Jesus told his followers that their priorities and abilities would be changed by the coming of the Holy Spirit.
And, for those who were filled by God’s Holy Spirit, that transformation occurred. The disciples had new goals, new priorities, and a new power indwelling their lives.
HOSANNA WAS REDEFINED
Scripture says that, after Jesus had issued their calling, “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Jesus, on the Mount of Ascension, redefined “Hosanna”: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus enters every city on earth today as a King through the life of every person who allows him to be King of their life. Hosanna. Blessed are the people who live life on earth, in the name of the Lord—because they will allow Jesus to bless others through their witness.
We stand on the Mount of Ascension with every disciple, from every century. We, like them, still wish Jesus to occasionally be an earthly king and fix things in this world. But, his final answer to his disciples will always be our calling.
Jesus told us to be witnesses through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. Every other priority is something less important.
Only 28 percent of our population plan to attend church on Easter Sunday. How will you shout “Hosanna” to the world this week?
We are called to be a witness to the true priorities of Easter week. Blessed are those who share in the name of the Lord. I hope you and your families have a blessed and holy week!