Tear Soaked Palms

By: William D. Shiell

In Luke after Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he demonstrated strong leadership: he wept over his city. That’s hardly the behavior the people expected. But Jesus wasn’t like any kind of King they had ever seen. Emperor Trajan displayed his conquests on a victory column for all to see. Slaves came at the end carrying the spoils of war.

The people who greeted Jesus in Jerusalem welcomed him like a monarch. They placed cloaks on the road, laying down the red capes for a ruler. But our King Jesus would have  none of the trappings of dictatorship. He rode into a city full of tax collectors, partisans, and religious types looking for a revolution. He showed them strong leadership by rejecting the military and national pride. In his first act after the parade, he wept.

What politician, CEO, or sports figure enters a capital city after a welcoming parade and cries? Jesus saw something in Jerusalem that the prophet Jeremiah experienced. As the prophet called his people to “seek the peace of the city,” he also wept over its current condition. In an outburst, Jesus says, “If you had known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace…” The Greek text indicates that he literally stops mid-sentence. It’s as if he catches himself before saying something he would later regret.

Jesus is the kind of leader that parents, parishioners, and pastors can trust. They know the hopeless condition that we face. The only thing that can save us is conversion by death—his death on the cross, and our willingness to die to ourselves. Jesus was willing to weep the truth to his capital Jerusalem and then willingly offer his life for us.

How is your community doing after the Palm Sunday parade is over? We have a long journey ahead of us this week to the upper room, Gethsemane, trial, death, and resurrection. But no matter where you live, before you take another step, look closely into the eyes of the Guy on the colt. Those tears are for your city.



March 21, 2016

William D. Shiell

President, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching

ABOUT William

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