“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’”
This familiar scripture comes just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday. People lined the streets of Jerusalem, not at the royal gate, but at the back gate. Jesus’ entry was a mix of celebration and grieving. The celebration was for the Messiah the Jews hoped would bring in a new age. The grief was over the misunderstanding of who this Messiah truly was. He was riding a donkey, not a white horse. He was a wandering, non-violent teacher, not a warrior.
When the shouts of Hosannas ended and the cloaks had been picked up from the streets, Jesus looked out over the city with great grief. He was weeping over the realization that so many still didn’t understand. He was grieving that they didn’t understand he was the Messiah who would indeed bring in a new age, but in a much different way than anticipated. He would bring in this new age with love, not violence; peace, not war; relationship, not sacrifice.
On this Palm Sunday, as the journey to Golgotha approaches, we must consider the expectations we’ve placed upon Jesus. Are there expectations we’ve placed upon Jesus that might cause him to weep? Perhaps we seek to use Jesus to manipulate others. Or maybe we seek to use Jesus to leverage power or social status. Perhaps there are times when we use Jesus as a magic genie, seeking him only to make our wishes come true. Misunderstanding who he is has become a large part of our faith. These misunderstandings would make Jesus weep today, just as he wept over Jerusalem so many years ago.
As we draw near to Golgotha and anticipate the new life of the empty tomb, how might we unintentionally be misunderstanding Jesus? How might we be missing his purpose and intentions?
It is you, O God, who often defy our expectations. Our forefathers and foremothers of faith expected a warrior king in the Messiah you promised and they received a homeless Rabbi. We often expect you to show up in certain ways and you defy our expectations time after time. Help us to see you and see your beauty, mystery, and love in ways that we could never imagine. Amen.