I taught the Palm Sunday lesson to all the preschool-aged children at my church last Sunday. It was difficult for me to speak truly about the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem while still communicating something they could understand. We ended up talking a little bit about how Jesus hadn’t met the people’s expectations. He hadn’t conquered their oppressors, healed their afflictions, or rescued them from poverty. He hadn’t even challenged Roman rule. And finally, we have him coming into the city, and he’s riding a donkey. What a let down. Despite the people’s praises, I can’t help but imagine their continued disappointment. After all, even the disciples didn’t understand what he was about to do. Everyone is still looking for the earthly king, and he’s not playing along.
The people wanted Jesus to fix them; He wanted to love them. They wanted him to take the city; He wanted to transform the world. In order to do one he would not do the other. He would lose the coming battle.
This weekend we remember that Christ conquered through his own condemnation. He ruled by becoming the suffering servant. He was made glorious through a shameful death. More than ever before, the end of his life demonstrated the distinction between worldly success and heavenly gain. It seems right, therefore, that we have laid aside worldly comforts in preparation for triumph. In some ways, our fasts are nothing but spiritual feasts, echoing the same paradox that Christ himself demonstrated. A battle is lost while a war is won. Death is made into Life.