“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Luke 19:37-38a).”
We have noted many times that the Gospel writers devote an enormous amount of attention to the last week of our Lord’s ministry. Here in Luke’s Gospel the final week begins here in chapter 19 and it extends up to and includes the crucifixion of our Lord in chapter 23. That’s nearly four chapters devoted to less than one week in Jesus’ life, something that is truly remarkable in view of the fact that only 18 chapters have been required up to this point to narrate his entire life of just over thirty years! The passage quoted above rises to a crescendo of praise and prayer as the Lord enters the great city; but shortly after the praise will plummet into resistance, judgment and condemnation, until the horrific events of Good Friday have run their course.
Perhaps the message the Gospel writers send to us this week is: slow down and reflect deeply on the kind of victory that God has won through the death and resurrection of Jesus! Beneath the frenetic pace at which many of us live, there is another drama unfolding. God is working and moving in our world to bring about God’s good purposes and his work is exactly like what we see in Jesus. Just as Jesus encountered enormous resistance during this final week, just as the powers-that-be made every conceivable effort to snuff him out at the cross, so there is resistance to God’s renewing power today. We see that in the news headlines, local politics and all too often in our own hearts. And yet, just as it appeared that God’s purposes in Jesus had been wholly thwarted, Easter Sunday heralds a different story. Jesus has won the victory! He has reconciled God and humans. He has opened the door to God’s renewing work in our world and that door can never be shut.
Our own little lives are taken up into God’s greater story, the story of rescue and redemption and renewal. God is renewing us, even now, as we unite our lives with God’s purposes by faith. And God is making us agents of renewal in and on behalf of the world. Tragically, many are never aware of this larger drama. Even many Christian people do not realize that their lives are part of God’s greater story. This week, especially this week, let us slow down to perceive this wonder: Through death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has won the victory over the powers of death, decay and despair. Hosanna in the highest!