Weeping Amidst Celebration

Have you ever wept while there was a celebration going on?

Have you ever been invited to a party? We Indians love socializing and have great celebrations for every event. We get invitations for special events like birthdays, weddings, and parties regularly. A good number of people go for such get-togethers for the sake of the society, but deep within they have bleeding hearts and tearful eyes. Have you ever gone to a party with a sad heart? Do you remember going to any place where there were celebrations around but you were weeping deep within?

This morning we are going to see why Jesus wept when people were celebrating the first Hosanna Sunday.

The world celebrates Palm Sunday and it is in remembrance of the day when Jesus went into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his crucifixion. The Bible calls this event as ‘the triumphal entry.’

After the Saturday night dinner at Simon’s house, Jesus and his disciples left early in the morning towards Jerusalem. On the way, Jesus stopped for a moment and sent two of his disciples ahead of him into a nearby village to carry out a special task.

Luke 19:28-31 

28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

Remember, the disciples had always seen Jesus walking to his destination and occasionally he took a boat across the Sea of Galilee. They have never seen him go on an animal, so the demand to find a colt to travel must have seemed strange for the disciples.

On the other hand, Jesus knew he was going to Jerusalem to face his crucifixion and death. So His decision to go into Jerusalem must have been one of the most difficult decisions Jesus ever made.

Now, in the times of war, the conqueror would ride upon a prancing stallion (ride fast on a horse) across his kingdom. But in times of peace, the king would ride a colt to symbolize that peace prevailed in the land. So for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem upon a colt was a public declaration that He is the King.

How would people respond to that?

Perhaps some of them would greet Him with laughter. Maybe they would be amused by what Jesus was doing. After all, he was a carpenter declaring to be a King! Perhaps some would think, “He is mad, living in a world of fantasy – imagining Himself to be a King!” And they would laugh at him. Others would greet Him with anger – upset because for them riding into the city as a King was arrogance and blasphemy against God. And of course, one section of the crowd was supportive of Jesus. They would hail Him as King

Jesus knew all the possible reactions that would arise but he still decided to go on a colt because he wanted to give one last chance for the people to know that Jesus is indeed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

As Jesus rides down toward the gate of the city, the crowds are growing, and there is a festive air, for it is Passover & pilgrims are gathering from far & near for greatest of all Jewish holidays. Even before Jesus arrives, the news has spread that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. People are all excited to see Jesus who raised a dead man. A great crowd had collected on both sides of the road. People had cut palm branches & were shouting, “Hosanna to the king!” Excitement prevailed throughout the whole city!

Mark 11:7-10 

7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

Jesus looked over His audience. He must have seen different kinds of people and mixed expressions on their faces.

His audiences, Once who wept now rejoicing

There were those who loved Him: Perhaps Bartimaeus was there, a man who had received his sight, no longer in his beggar’s rags. How about Zacchaeus? He had paid back his debt to society, & had made his peace with God. And the lepers? Their skin had been cleansed & now they were rejoicing for the healing that the Lord had given them. they once wept and now? celebrating and rejoicing.

Maybe Jairus’ daughter was there – back to life again after experiencing death. Lazarus, Mary, Martha, Mary Magdalene – they were all there! Their lives have been touched and changed by Jesus.

There were also critics there, waiting for Him to say one wrong word – to make one mistake. The Sadducees & Pharisees were there. They were supposed to be keepers of the law, the spiritual leaders. But Jesus had gained so much popularity that they felt threatened. So, full of jealousy, they watched Him.

The Romans soldiers were there. They are ruling over the Jews now and are fearful of a revolt. They are watching for any sign of rebellion against Rome. And they were ready & waiting to crush any uprising.

Disciples in the audience

I wonder how the disciples were reacting to all this? I imagine Peter walking with expanded chest – enjoying the cheers of the crowd. Maybe with one hand on his sword just in case, something went wrong – thinking to himself, “It was worth it to leave the fishnets & boats. Maybe, at last, we are going to get what we deserve.”

Possibly there was Thomas, a bit skeptical about everything that was going on – wondering what is going to happen next. Maybe Andrew was overwhelmed by it all. He was so used to bringing people to Jesus one by one, or in small groups but masses are following Jesus.

What about James & John? They probably were thinking about Jesus being crowned King, so that they could be on His right and left hand in positions of authority & power.

They were all kinds of people there in Jerusalem – loving people, critics, anxious disciples; crowds trampling almost one upon another. Suddenly the whole procession stopped.

Illustration

Can you imagine how it would be in the morning rush hour traffic on Bangalore roads? One car stops, then all the other cars stop, like a chain reaction. I can just hear the people way back in the crowd saying, “What’s wrong? What is going on? Why don’t you guys move on?”

But the people who were closest to Jesus could see and realized that it was He who had stopped the parade. They saw His body begin to shake sitting on the colt. Maybe at first, they thought He was laughing. Laughter would have been natural for anyone as all were celebrating. But when they saw His face they saw no evidence of joy. Rather, they saw sorrow & tears. He was not laughing. Jesus was crying. 

Luke 19:41 

As He approached Jerusalem & saw the city, He wept over it & said, `If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. This was the second occasion that Jesus wept. He just cried days back in front of the tomb of Lazarus. He saw the sorrow in Mary and he wept. Now Jesus is looking at the city of Jerusalem and is crying.

Why was Jesus weeping?

1. Jesus wept because the people did not recognize him.

You may worship Jesus today, you may sing and glorify Jesus but if you do not recognize Jesus’ heart, His will; He is probably crying over you. The fact they waved palm branches showed that the people did not understand Jesus. People came to him for gain, healing, comfort but they truly did not know the mission of Jesus Christ. They put their cloaks and palm leaves on Jesus not to recognize Jesus as the Price of Peace but recognizing his earthly kingship.

Today many churches distribute palm leaves but where did it all come from? Does Jesus accept us waving palm leaves and putting those leaves in our houses and doorposts? If you say, “Yes” then why did Jesus cry? The custom of waving palm branches is said to have come from the time of Maccabees. He was a ruler long before Jesus. When Maccabees overthrew the Syrian oppressors and reestablished worship in the temple by war, people greeted him by waving palm branches.

Therefore, by waving palm branches to Jesus they were showing that they expected Jesus to be another warlord – another general of the armies – one who would lead them to overthrow the Romans. They were saying that they were ready to pick up their swords and shields and go to war if He would lead them! Some in the crowd probably wanted Jesus to overthrow the Romans, whereas some in the crowd were thanking Jesus for what he did to them. They misunderstood Jesus’ mission, Jesus wept.

Many of us have come with various needs to be met today, many of us want Jesus to punish our enemies and destroy those who oppose us. But is that what Jesus wants of you? Is Jesus weeping when we are worshipping him?

2. Jesus wept because the teachers of the law did not understand him.

Listen, the Pharisees and Sadducees who were strict followers of the law were trying to arrest Jesus instead of looking at the scripture. In the OT, there is a clear prophesy that pointed to this day when the Messiah would come on a colt. Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. In spite of Jesus’ ministry, in spite of the OT prophesies, and in spite of demonstrating this prophecy live, the prestigious teachers of the law missed the coming of the Messiah. Jesus cried.

I believe when Jesus looks at some ministers now, He is indeed crying. A majority of us are in the ministry here. Maybe you are in the pastoral team, worship team, prayer team, ushering team or doing ministry outside. Do you know the heart of Jesus? Are we ministering to him or are we pleasing people?

3. Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

Luke 19:41-44 

As He approached Jerusalem & saw the city, He wept over it & said, `If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you & encircle you & hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you & the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.’

Listen, from his birth Jesus did everything to tell the people of Israel that he is the Messiah they were waiting for. Finally, on Hosanna Sunday, Jesus was demonstrating to the people and the teachers of the law one last time that he was indeed the King, the Messiah, the redeemer. But they still missed his point. When Jesus looked over Jerusalem his thoughts went years ahead to the time where God is going to punish Jerusalem because they did not recognize him.

Jesus had foreseen and wept

History says, years after Jesus’ death the armies of Titus surrounded the Holy City. The Temple stones were taken down and the whole city was leveled. There were dead bodies in the streets and blood running in the gutters and hundreds of thousands of people crying because they were starving to death while Titus waits for Jerusalem to surrender. Jesus could foresee this day of punishment and he cried.

How different their lives could have been. How different the history of Israel could have been if they had only recognized the one who came into their midst, riding on a colt.

Today Jesus is crying over us because some of us refuse to come to him. The bible says the penalty of sin is death and we are still continuing in our sins. Some of us have already come to Jesus but still living in sin. Jesus is looking at the impending punishment upon us and weeping over us today.

Conclusion

Today, Jesus is in our midst. Yes, we all have come here to worship him and celebrate him, but I wonder what He finds when He looks at our faces?

Does He see people concerned about so many things – worried about job, worried about health, looking for material things and forget worshipping him? And does Jesus see some here who are so busy in life that they never bother to consider those things that are eternally important? Does Jesus see as preaching and singing without really having anything to do with him and continuing in sin?

When He turns and looks into our lives, will Jesus weep once again because of what He sees? Love Jesus. Make Jesus first the Lord of your life. Make it a priority to love him first rather than receiving his blessings.

Listen, Jesus was weeping amidst all celebrations. Maybe some of you are here with a burdened heart, you may be weeping today. You feel people are rejoicing around you but you are in tears. You may be thinking, “Lord! I am just putting up a face before people, but no one knows my heart.” Jesus can give you peace and deliver you today. Let us turn to him and worship him. Amen!