want wealth without work, good health without exercise,
weight loss without dieting, sharp minds without
reading, and spiritual formation without
list continues: intimacy without commitment,
children without obligation, rights without
power without surrender, success without failure, and
popularity without humility.
short, everyone wants everything to be
easy. We constantly search for the path of least
the prospect of a triumphal entry is very attractive.
But please spare us the looming shadow of a cross in the
coming weekend is Palm Sunday. We remember Jesus riding
into Jerusalem to the accolades of the crowd. We
celebrate the kingly procession, short-lived though it
was. We rejoice in this demonstration of power and
popularity. Like the disciples of old, we're excited by
the adulation and applause of the crowd. Here's the
"easy" Kingdom we hope for, too.
Palm Sunday is not a model of success. To the contrary.
It highlights everything we must then sacrifice to the
Cross if real glory is to be experienced. We prefer a
theology that turns BMWs, fat bank accounts, expensive
furniture, Harley-Davidsons and two-storey homes into
the norm for the faithful.
the Cross casts a dark shadow across such temporary
triumphalism. The Faithful One traded the cheers
for jeers. The coats laid before his 'steed' were
retrieved and soldiers gambled for His single cloak as
He hung naked. The palm branches of prestige became the
hyssop branch of pain relief.
Easter, more than any season of the liturgical year,
jolts our senses. There is no lasting glory
without a Cross.
Cross confronts our longing for cheap grace. The pathway
to glory is inevitably the via dolorosa. Just
when we realize that we'd like to have our name above
every other name we receive the instruction to empty
ourselves entirely of everything.
we are privileged to lead others, we may be flattered by
their tones of approval. They affirm our commitment to
Christ. They extol our willingness to serve the
saints, while all the while our lives may be utterly
unrepentant and uncrucified. We ride the donkey of
competence, and fail to mortify our secret inner
when we crucify the old man, he can resurge to
resurrection. Calvin Miller aptly writes: "
People who honor God will often be admired for clothing
themselves in Christ. The trick is to live in the midst
of admiration without stopping overlong before our
dressing mirrors.... Crucifying ourselves is therefore
daily. If we forget to do it on Tuesday, and then again
on Wednesday, we might never think of it again."
Palm Sunday may be a celebration of sorts. It can also
be seen as preparation ... for death. As we approach
Easter, let's affirm afresh the age-old truth in our own
lives: crucified then glorified. May each of us
honestly declare with Paul, "I have been crucified with
Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives
in me" (Gal 2.20).