Biblical theology teaches us that the promised redeemer will come and put all things right, restore shalom with God, myself, others and creation.
As a Jesus follower, I shout, Yes! Hallelujah! I believe it!
Commenting on Palm Sunday Tom Wright says, “As we arrive at Jerusalem with Jesus, the question presses upon us. Are we going along for the trip in the hope that Jesus will fulfil some of our hopes and desires? Are we ready to sing a psalm of praise, but only as long as Jesus seems to be doing what we want?” (2004, p. 230)
Maybe I need to take some time this week to be really honest with myself. What do I want Jesus to do for me? Who do I think Jesus really is? In other words, what is my motive for following Jesus in the first place? How and why do I need a Messiah?
It has been said that we all tend to “create God in our own image”. We have a picture of who God is and what we need him to be. In light of Palm Sunday, and as I see myself waving my palm branch and spreading my cloak before Jesus on the colt; who is this Jesus, created according to my own likeness?
The disciples believed he was the promised Davidic King, the long-awaited Messiah who would liberate Israel from their enemies and make Israel great again.
I saw an Instagram video of a Bible teacher sitting in front of a beautiful painting of Jesus – a white, blue-eyed Hollywood styled Jesus. His encouragement to his followers (in light of COVID-19) was to stand on the word of God who promises that “You will not fear the terror of night… nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.” Psalms 6-91:5 NIVUK
What he says is true, if God (in Christ) is for us who can be against us? Even death loses it sting. The preacher was honest about who he needed Jesus to be for him and his followers. A saviour from the pandemic.
Who do we need Jesus to be for us?
If Jesus is my Messiah, what are my unarticulated hopes, desires, needs and longings that I am unconsciously projecting onto him? What do I need Jesus to be for me? Why am I waving my palm branch before him as he approaches?
To be honest, I don’t think I can answer that question with too much confidence. My conscious capacity to see myself for who I really am is comparable to the dim light of a candle in the vast dark house of my life. Much of who I am, my deepest longings and desires, live in the hidden wonder of my unconscious, only to be revealed from time to time as I stumble into it with my candle through the journey of life.
Slowly I am getting to know myself and become more self-aware. Enough at least to know, that I don’t know what I don’t know, and my candle reminds me that I am surrounded by blind spots.
This is no need for despair as Wright wisely says, “The long and dusty pilgrim way of our lives gives most of us plenty of time to sort out our motives for following Jesus in the first place.” (Wright 2004, p. 230)
Will I still be following Jesus by Friday?
As this Holy Week unfolds, the question remains, will I still be following Jesus by Friday?
“Are we ready not only to spread our cloaks on the road in front of him, to do the showy and flamboyant thing but also now to follow him into trouble, controversy, trial and death?” (2004, p. 230)
As Jesus steadfastly pursues His Kingdom Come agenda, and my hopes and expectations of who he needs to be, to me, start to fade; will I still be following Jesus by Friday?
The answer, both from the history of the People of God, and my own is, no.
And therein lies my most profound need for a Messiah…
I’m not too fussed about exploring my deeper motives for following Jesus. No matter how much I may have created Jesus into a Messiah of my own liking and abandoned Him on Good Friday, Sunday happened.
Wright, T., 2004. Luke for Everyone, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.