Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, which marks Jesus entering Jerusalem during kicking off the Holy Week. I was thinking about that this morning, and one thing really hit me right between the eyes. Palm Sunday was a day when everyone was praising Jesus. They were excited to see him, and anxiously waiting to see him work. The people expected great things, and welcomed him as he arrived to the Holy city to celebrate Passover.
What strikes me, is less than a week later, Jesus is being dragged from the Garden of Gethsemane and dragged before the religious court, before Pilate, before Herrod. His disciples (who would probably be listed as his best friends on this earth) have all scattered and deserted him. He is questioned. He is accused. He is brought before the people (probably many of which who were in the crowd during Palm Sunday shouting Hosanna and waving their palm branches) who in returned shouted for his crucifixion. He was beaten beyond recognition, and brought back before the people who called for a man known to be a murderer to be released from the death sentence than the sinless Son of God who spent his life healing, serving, and teaching the people about God. He was tortured, spat upon, humiliated, scorned, and ridiculed. How could they be so mean? Where was their compassion? How could people be so cruel and bloodthirsty?
It is easy for me to point a finger. How horrible! Those people saw Jesus. They sat with him, worked alongside him. He had probably even healed some of them. He had spent three years sharing his life with his disciples, and yet one of them betrays him---while the other eleven flee from him to save their own necks. But, as I look at these people and shake my finger at their lack of love, compassion, and loyalty, I am condemning myself.
I see myself in that mirror. How many times have I not made that stand--in fear of what others thought. How many times have I turned my back, knowing that someone really needed help? How many times have I praised God for the things that were good, and when things start taking a turn for the worse blame Him and complain about my uncomfortable situation. How many times have I been wronged, and yet been unforgiving of their actions?
When I look at this story, the thing that really hits me is Jesus' reaction. Jesus never confronted Peter for denying him, and He was aware of the denial. He never asked where his disciples went. He never scolded the people who were calling for his crucifixion. He never told them that they were acting like ungrateful brats. Instead, He endure and called for their forgiveness on the cross amid the climax of his pain and torture.
You see, Jesus saw us as we really were at that moment. His words said it all, "Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing." That to me, is a radical reaction when you take into consideration all that Jesus had gone through at that point. Jesus looked upon them (and us) with the compassion, grace and love that they lacked...and decided to forgive them, even though he had been continuously hurt during this circumstance.
When we get caught up in the moment, we really do not know what we are doing. The people were frustrated with Roman oppression. They wanted someone who would overthrow those powers. What they did not realize was Jesus' mission was to free them from more than the Roman soldiers...He was there to free them from Satan, and eternal death. He was freeing them from sin, but the people were too caught up in the moment to realize it.
I think Jesus' final acts were a lesson straight from God's heart on how we are to react when things go wrong. We are to endure, and stay the course of the mission that God called us to do. Christ saw his work as too important to be interrupted by the pettiness of the actions of others. He forgave and moved on, and that is just what we need to do.