“Haven’t you seen the wonderful things that he’s done?” They say amidst the commotion. “The healings! The miracles! It’s all so amazing!”
“Have you heard some of the things he’s said? He talks as if God’s kingdom is already here! He speaks with such power and authority! And oh how he puts the power-hungry Romans and the stuck-up Pharisees in their place!”
“Yes! This is the one! The rightful king! He’s the one who will put them all in their place! All is well. All is well. Hosanna! And glory in the highest!”
I wonder who all was in this crowd. I’m sure some of them are revolutionaries. They’re ready to crown Jesus king and fight beside him to overturn the Romans. Even to the death. So they sing the war-hymn and ride on. Of course they missed the point. Jesus wasn’t riding on a war horse with a sword. He rode in on a donkey to bring peace. I’m sure others are merely entertained. “There’s a party? Sure! I’ll be there!” They join in the song not because they know the words, but because they like the beat.
We are not so different from this crowd. We sing the same song. We are for too easily entertained. We go to church to sing and smile without a care in the world. We are so easily drawn to the places of comfort and the places that seem fun.
Yet, in the midst of the song and dance of this great crowd where is Jesus? What is he doing? He is weeping! “If only you knew what kind of things make for peace! But your eyes are blind!” Why does he weep? Because they are blind. Either because they are looking for peace in all the wrong places or because they foolishly think they have already found it. They sing and he weeps.
I wonder how often it is the same today. We sing and live out our nice Christian lives. Blind to the woes of the world. While he weeps for all the pain and all the injustice and all the chaos that wars against peace.
As he rides in the people say to one another, “Have you seen all the great things he’s done? Have you heard all of his wonderful teachings?” But what question is Jesus asking? He says, “Haven’t you seen all the injustice and pain in the world? Haven’t you heard all the cries in distress?” We are ready to sing and to worship, yet he calls us to take up not a sword but a cross; he beckons us not to worship, but to weep. He asks us to be aware of all the pain, all the suffering, and all the injustice of the world.
And lest we think that all the injustice of the world is “out there,” what does he do next? He marches right into the temple, overturning the tables and driving out all that doesn’t belong. You see, the injustice isn’t just “out there.” It is right here. Inside of our very bones. Our evil hearts. He calls us to weep not only for the pain and injustice “out there” but also over the wrongs that we ourselves have wrought.
When Jesus comes to town no one gets overlooked. Not the poor. Not the needy. And not the self-righteous. He puts rightside-up those who have been crushed by the world and he flips upside-down those who have boasted themselves to the world. He marches right into the temple, the house of prayer, and says “Even this place is not untouched by darkness.”
And that is what Lent is about. It coaxes us out of our dullness and complacency. It awakens us to the pain and suffering in the world and also to the sin and evil in our hearts.