Palm Sunday & the Tough Road to Love

SunsetPalm Sunday always gets me. It’s the day Jesus rode to Jerusalem heralded by His adoring fans. People lined the streets laying palm fronds before Him the same way we lay out the red carpet before Hollywood elites today.

But all that changed quickly.

The people turned on Jesus. They did not simply watch the Pharisees ask for His execution; they took things further by demanding the release of the murderous Barabas and chanting “CRUCIFY HIM. CRUCIFY HIM!” at Jesus.

I wonder what the all-knowing Jesus thought as those palm fronds were waved in His path. I wonder if He, in His humanity, knew the faces in the crowd would snarl at him soon enough. I wonder if He knew the depth of betrayal those shouting accolades would deliver shortly. I wonder if He allowed resentment of what awaited cloud His enjoyment of the moment.

My questions reach further back too. When would Jesus have first known what lay ahead and who was most guilty? Did He have a timeline or ID cards stating what each person would do to Him? Did He look with suspicion and fear at those He met long before that illustrious Palm Sunday? Did He, in His human form, know the pain those He healed, spoke with, and Loved would cause Him months or years before that walk to Calvary?

I wonder because I inset my fallen humanity in Jesus’s Divinity.

It is painful to be hurt by someone we love, trust, and depend on. That pain makes it easy to extend past hurts onto future relationships with that person and with others.

We think we protect ourselves or give another what he deserves when we withhold love, but Instead of being empowered, this limit our ability to heal, love, and be loved again.

When we are wronged, we tend to put up barriers in an effort to protect ourselves. It’s something we’ve all done. It’s a very human response. We’ve heard the saying, “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” There is some truth to that, but “some” is the operative word there.

There is more too.

Barriers are different from boundaries. Barriers do not allow love to flow and trust to grow. Barriers are hard walls we use to beat ourselves against more than we use to keep harmful people at bay.

We cannot let suspicion, fear of betrayal, and broken trust cloud the joy we are meant to experience in each moment. By suspiciously projecting past pain onto future relationships, our children, a spouse making a small effort, or even a total stranger, we cause more harm than good. By reserving happiness in an effort to protect ourselves we cloud joy for ourselves and others. This may be especially true when our effort is unconscious. We think we protect ourselves or give those who may hurt us what they deserve, but we actually rob ourselves, our children, and those in our circles of influence by letting our reactions to past wrongdoings form hard barriers that cause more and longer lasting harm than the wrongdoing itself. We lose our ability to live freely and think clearly, the joy we are meant to find in every moment, the grace of forgiveness, and the power of unconditional love.

It is difficult. No, it is impossible to find joy in offenses, grace in forgiveness, and unconditional love using strictly human powers. It is extremely difficult to be vulnerable again when a spouse abandons you, a child rejects you, or a friend breaks your trust, but it is doable.

Strength through vulnerability is worth pursuing with Jesus as your role model and guide. It requires you to trust God’s working in you even when you don’t see or feel results. It requires that you get your self worth from God not from your spouse.

It requires Divine Intervention.

That is what Jesus relied on as He rode to Jerusalem. He knew who He was. He knew His purpose. He offered the grace of preemptive forgiveness. He Loved unconditionally.

He did not let the fear and anger of what was to come rob Him or those He Loved of the joy in the moment.

Imagine how differently the story would have gone if Jesus, suspecting what the people would do, let His anger and fear of future betrayal mar that journey to Jerusalem. Imagine how different life for us now would be and how warped our understanding of the Resurrection and Jesus’ entire earthly purpose would be if He had snapped those palm fronds in half and beaten people with them or with His words in those moments.

Imagine how our understanding of God and ourselves would be if Jesus sought to put barriers between Himself and us.

And yet, don’t we do that all the time in our relationships?

Life and love are not easy. We must commit to doing them the same way Jesus did Palm Sunday. We must commit to finding our worth from God not others, with knowing our purpose for being here, and for finding joy in each individual moment, even our difficult ones.

And don’t forget, rather than portraying your past mistakes onto your future, you are also called to forgive and love yourself unconditionally too! There is joy in learning to do so! 🙂

Maybe I should wonder less what Jesus was thinking as He looked at the people on the streets of Jerusalem that Palm Sunday and wonder more about what He thinks as He looks at me today.

God Bless…

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