Palm Sunday: From the high hopes of anticipation to the low slopes of disappointment. In the journey of life, we all face this. We are disappointed when our expectations are not met, when they do not materialize, or circumstances seem to turn against us. Even God has experienced disappointment. But God always has a plan—just as He always has a plan for you.
5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:5-8 NKJV).
Did you notice the verbs in verse 6? God was “sorry” – he was “grieved in his heart.” Yet in spite of that, in the midst of a troubled world, Noah found grace. And God’s grace found Noah. If we will look beyond our own disappointment and discouragement, we will discover an opportunity for grace and growth. God knew that the day would come when he would send his only begotten Son to provide an antidote for the sins of the world. And He knew it would be the most costly sacrifice ever made. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Jesus said He came to seek and to save the lost according to Luke 19:10. He was in Jericho at the moment, and had just been accused of befriending sinners as he dined with Zacchaeus. He knew that the road to Jerusalem from Jericho would lead Him to the cross. Yet He also knew that to fulfill all of the Old Testament prophecies that he would need to make a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on the colt of a donkey. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He was greeted by, “the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” Of course, they were expecting a political kingdom, not a spiritual one. Luke 19:11 “Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.”
The expectation of the crowds was building. They thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately, so Jesus told a story about stewardship and the use of gifts bestowed upon those who serve in God’s kingdom. It was really a story about Jesus and the way the kingdom would eventually come.
Would. Eventually. Come. Not, “would immediately come.” We are disappointed in life when our expectations are not met immediately, in the way we expect, or because we have the wrong perspective on our circumstances.
How about you? Did you expect that the one who promised to “love, honor and cherish” would really do so until “death do us part?” Did you expect to have the perfect family with 1.8 perfect children, all living in the perfect neighborhood in the perfect house with 3500 square feet, a bonus room and a 3-car garage for your Lexus SUV, motor home and boat? Did you expect to have the perfect job with a perfect future and a perfect retirement? Does it all seem like a cruel joke to you now, or have you just concluded that perhaps your youthful expectations were a bit unrealistic?
On that first Palm Sunday, the disciples and the crowds in Jerusalem all had the same expectation. They believed Jesus was the Messiah and as such would soon overthrow the wretched rule of Rome and set up His earthly Kingdom in Jerusalem. The crowds were welcoming Him as they would welcome a general returning from a victorious battle after winning the war. So we can understand their disappointment when Jesus did not play the part.
After all, the crowds watched with amazement as He entered the temple and began throwing over the tables of exchange and throwing out the moneychangers. “Now it’s happening” they thought. “Now He is making His move. And now that He’s taken care of business here at the temple, He’ll soon move next door and take the keys from the Roman Praetorian Guards.”
But He didn’t. He just continued to teach and preach. “What’s this, just more preaching? No call to arms? No call for a revolution? Well, maybe He isn’t the One after all.”
And so the enthusiasm waned and the crowds disbursed. Like a group of exhausted party revelers taking down the ribbons and deflated balloons, they picked up their garments and went back to business as usual. The lights went out on their bright hopes that this day would be different.
When the lights go out on our dreams and hopes, it’s always more comforting when someone is there to share the darkness of the experience. Stay together during the tough times and the tough times won’t last nearly as long. Jesus, too, understood disappointment. When He went to the cross, nearly all of his friends abandoned Him. Only a faithful few remained on that dark day to witness His death. Where will you go on the dark day of disappointment?