The Lord stopped me moments after I began the eleventh chapter of Mark’s gospel this morning. Many of you will remember this scene: “They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:7-10)
From the context of the chapter, the crowds outside Jerusalem were expecting a reigning king after the manner of King David. Bursting with enthusiasm and hope, they believed this One riding into the city would soon crush Roman rule over their land and their lives.
“Hosanna!” They shouted. “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David.”
Fast forward only a few days. It’s little wonder that so many turned against Him when they realized Jesus was NOT going to be – or DO – as they expected.
There is a lesson here for Richard Maffeo. And there’s a lesson here for you who read this: It’s one thing to sing hosannas when God does as we ask. But isn’t it something else entirely to sing hosannas when He does not do as we ask – or expect?
Do the hosannas cease when the beloved spouse dies, despite our prayerful expectations? Do our praises disappear when our child remains unhealed, despite our expectant prayers? What happens to the shouts of acclamation when tragedy overtakes us, when disillusionment knocks us to the ground and kicks us in the gut – despite our expectant prayers for relief?
I know why the Lord captured my attention as I read this text in Mark’s gospel. And I asked myself, “Where is Richard in all this?” That’s a good question. And oh, by the way, where are YOU in all of this? There’s another good question.
God speaks to us through Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind . . .” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
If we’re not careful, if we get to thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think, we run the risk of being like Peter who swore up and down that he’d never fall. And we are wise to memorize what the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
So then, please, my brothers and sisters – so then, may God help us – oh, God help us! – to set ourselves to pray for each other and encourage each other, so that when all that we expected is stripped away, when all our hopes lie writhing in the dirt – that we will still ring out with hosannas to the great, mighty, and most merciful King of kings.
For He is worthy.