“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it”
Luke 19:41 esv
A few years ago I was duped into going to the New York State Fair on the evening that both Justin Bieber and Lady Antebellum were playing. The group I was with was obviously going to see the lesser of those two evils as Lady Antebellum was playing a free concert. The moment we stepped into the park I was ready to leave. Over an hour before the concert even started, a crowd had already amassed around the free concert stage to the point that you couldn’t even see the platform. I stood there in a crowd of people, unable to see the performers, unable to make out the music, and constantly getting pushed, shoved, and asked to “Excuse me!” I was not happy. Many of the people I was surrounded by weren’t even trying to watch the performance. They were just talking with each other. The introverted pessimist that I am, my initial question was, “Why choose this, of all the places, to simply hang out and talk? Wouldn’t it be much more practical to hang out in a more quite, less crowded place?” I turned to my group and said, “Not even if John, Paul, George, and Ringo were to on the stage would this amount of torture be worth it.”
It seems rather stupid to celebrate celebrity, but nothing has more power to make people look more foolish than when they run into someone famous. There are celebrities in America who have accomplished nothing more than achieving celebrity – The Kardashians, Paris Hilton, etc. Yet, the chances are, if they were to be spotted in your church on a Sunday morning, they would get far more attention than any other visitor, including Billy Graham.
It’s no wonder, that when Jesus entered the city on Palm Sunday, that so many people flocked to see Him and throw a mini parade. People were taking off their coats and throwing them on the ground so that the donkey Jesus was riding wouldn’t have to touch the dirt. Yet, at the end of this triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus didn’t raise His hands like Rocky or even pull off a Tim Tebow; Jesus wept. Everyone around Him was cheering, and Jesus was weeping.
As I look across the Church today, I wonder how many fan’s Jesus has. They love Him for all the cool things He has done: healing the sick, feeding the thousands, preaching on peace, and teaching good morals, or even His death on the cross. The figure of the cross has become a fashion symbol and even though Christians get a lot of flack, it’s still cool to talk about Jesus.
I’m convinced that Jesus still weeps when He sees how many people celebrated Him today. Those who would wear their crosses around their neck, but never carry one on their shoulders. When Jesus told the disciples that He was going to die, Peter confronted Him and said, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matthew 26:35 esv) But sure enough, when it came down to the moment to be tested, Peter failed to keep his words. Talk is cheap. So many Christians today have only spoken that they would fight for Christ, even die for Him, but few of them are truly strong enough to face the challenges of being a follower of Christ.
After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus had a little sit down with Peter and laid it al out for him.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young,you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:18-19 esv
Wile singing worship songs on Sunday may be easy, truly following Him is not. To be a devoted follower of Christ means one must live each day worthy of the gospel – the gospel which proclaims the price of the blood that was spilt for your soul. It would be easy to die for Christ, for that is a one time act that can be made in haste. But to live for Him requires resolve and commitment. Are you a committed follower of Christ, or just a fan.
Five days after Jesus was being hailed as the Messiah, the same people who threw off their cloths to pave the road were calling out to have Jesus stripped and crucified. How quickly their true natures were revealed. They were not fans, they were fools. They had followed the crowds and therefore followed Christ as long as it was easy. But even his disciples did not know what it would cost to really stand up for their savior.
It’s a rare day when we celebrate two holidays on the same day – April Fool’s Day and Palm Sunday. Yet, I can’t think of a more fitting way to consider the implications than to ask this question. On this day, do we celebrate commitment and resolve to take up our own crosses, or do we celebrate our foolishness to follow Jesus as long as the road is easy?