Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” – Matthew 21
“God’s glory is to see [humankind] fully alive.” – Irenaeus
I’m glad so many of you enjoyed the “Sanctified Art” post from Sunday. If you missed it I believe you will enjoy scrolling through the big splashes of color and imagination from my first painting project in a very long time. The art is vivid, fun, and surprisingly loud for a bunch of “decent and in order” Presbyterians!
An even bigger splash of color!
But this morning I want to draw attention to an even bigger splash of color and life. I’m talking about the scripture passage we looked at in my adult education class between worship services. I’m using the Entering the Passion of Jesus book I introduced in last Monday’s post (Having Faith When we Don’t Want to).
I was teaching about the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the day that set the events of Holy Week into motion, the day people crowded the streets and responded with such enthusiasm.
- The coming of the King, riding on a donkey in triumph and power yet meek and compassionate;
- the cry of “Please save us” (Hosanna!);
- the shout of “Son of David!”;
- the realization that salvation is no longer pie in the sky in the sweet by and by but a present reality we can enter into and participate in today.
We wrapped up our conversation with a quote the author suggested from the musical Hello Dolly. Dolly is tired of watching life roll right by her as she lives without a real sense of fulfillment. “I wanna feel my heart coming alive again,” she sings.
And don’t we all? The people of Jerusalem felt this way too. Then they watched Jesus ride into the town and they felt their hearts coming alive once more. Or at least they felt the hint of it, the possibility of it, the promise, the “conditions are ripe” of it…
The real thing:
But like their hopes and dreams this Jesus parade would just pass them right by unless they stepped up, stepped forward, stepped in, and joined Jesus in response to his invitation to enter into salvation.
Here’s a reminder of my definition: Salvation means, “Joining in with God’s work; participating in God’s initiatives of grace, mercy, love, light, hope etc…” Salvation is not transactional so much as it is transformational; it is not merely a ticket for later it’s an invitation for now; salvation is not passively received so much as it is actively lived into. Jesus was coming into Jerusalem and the people could feel their hearts coming alive once more.
Can you feel it? Do you hear Jesus calling your name? Are you not tired of watching the parade roll on by without coming alive yourself?
Jesus brings our hearts alive!
This is why those few moments in a room with a dozen members of my class grabbed my spirit with more energy and authenticity than a lot of other things did this weekend. Art is fun; color is such a beautiful picture of life poured out; Psalm 23 soothes my soul; But… “I wanna feel my heart coming alive again” is exactly why the woman in the Gospel story bathed the Lord’s feet in expensive perfume and then dried them with her hair.
Jesus brought her heart to life. He wanted the same for Simon the Pharisee. He wants it for us too.
Wave those palm branches all you want; shout “hosanna” and “Son of David” too. But the excitement is going to pass on by unless we are willing to open up our hearts to the Jesus quality of life – “Real and eternal life,” Peterson translates John 10:10, “more and better life than [you] ever dreamed of.”
In love, and because of love – DEREK