Believing for the wrong reasons

STREETLIFE - Nigel Villarete - The Freeman

Palm Sunday is a tradition observed in many Christian churches and which was described in all four gospels. It is described as the “triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem” and is often narrated in two parts --first, the fetching of the donkey/colt which Jesus sat on, and second, the laying down of the followers’ coats and palm branches on the ground where Jesus passed through. People were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”

But why did the people cry out “Hosanna?” And why did the same people who did, change their shouts a few days later to “Crucify him!” While there might be some who really believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as the one who will save them from their sins, most of the Jews had thought that Jesus was coming to save them from the Romans. Jesus lived in a time when current-day Israel was still part of the Roman Empire, and Roman law and customs were being imposed harshly on the Jewish people.

Hosanna is a statement or exclamation of praise, usually uttered for God or a savior. The Jerusalem Jews, often persecuted by their Roman governors, were hoping for deliverance. They must have hoped that Jesus was coming to their city to deliver them from their colonizers. Hence, the zeal in welcoming a triumphant “King of Israel” into Jerusalem. Their concept of God’s mercy consisted of his throwing out the foreign invaders, as read in some of the Psalms, “at the hands of a kingly son of David.” Like the servants in the psalm, thousands of them were ready --in this case, to revolt at the slightest provocation.

It must have been devastating to many seeing Jesus, who they suppose would liberate them, being thrown into prison, scourged, and sentenced to be crucified. Imagine the hopelessness as one sees your expected deliverer and coming king humiliated to the lowest degree possible and sentenced to die. In desperation, they joined the chorus, “crucify him!”

That was 2,000 years ago, and yet today, we often suffer the same errors. Did they get palm leaves and form them into the shape of the cross? Why do we even place some on our doors and houses to ward off evil spirits? Most of the Jews were mistaken --they thought he would save them from the Romans. So will we be mistaken if we believe for the wrong reasons? Some of us may believe in Jesus Christ for the expected benefits that he would give. The Bible does assure us of a lot of blessings in believing and worshipping God. But we often forget what Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24).

Jesus came not to save us from our affliction, or to make us rich, or give us things. He came to save us from sin and its penalty of eternal death. It’s not enough to simply believe. We must believe for the right reason --the total surrender of self to the saving grace and lordship of Jesus Christ.

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