Psalm 107:33-43, 108; 2 Samuel 16:1-23; Acts 22:17-29; Mark 11:1-11
Ever notice how oddly Jesus behaves after the Palm Sunday procession winds up in the streets of Jerusalem? Here are all these people stripping off their cloaks and cutting branches from the trees and shouting His praises, proclaiming Him (against His will and intent, remember) as the Next Big Thing, the politician who was going to save the world through a political agenda. And, of course, the scowling, finger-pointing opposition, telling Him that His followers were out of control and that He needs to get them back on task or else. Stones crying out, donkeys slipping on the steep roads covered in parkas and palms. And then, after all the mayhem and hoopla, Jesus goes into the Temple, looks around, and heads out for a nap. Talk about anti-climax!
But friends, Jesus wasn’t ever really there for the mayhem and hoopla. Yes, He had some organized plan to ride a donkey–but that’s not the same thing as being ‘all in’ with the agenda of the crowd. Mostly, He wanted to ride a donkey into town and look at the Temple. It was the Temple, not the palms, that were His purpose that day. And unlike most of us, He doesn’t distract from His true purpose: He wants to see the Temple, and He goes to the Temple to see it, no matter the distractions dancing before His eyes. Why? No idea, honestly–we can guess, and I have no problem doing so, but the texts themselves don’t say ‘He looked around the Temple because XYZ.’ So guess-work is the best you’ll get from anyone. What isn’t guess-work is that this, not the attempted coronation process, was the point all along.
Sticking to your purpose is hard. The world dangles distractions before our eyes with professional aplomb and non-stop press releases. So many opportunities to lose focus, to let others set the agenda for us. The distractions are attractive, and they may even be important–they may even overlap a bit with your purpose, like that donkey which fits into both scenarios well enough. But if they’re not your purpose, don’t let them take you off course. You are responsible for your own soul, your own choices, the direction that your life takes you despite the changes and chances thrown at. And if you let other people reset your agenda, let the voice of the crowd mould you into decisions that aren’t really yours, you may well miss out on precisely what you’re supposed to do all along. Which may feel like an anti-climax to those whose purpose it never was in the first place. But where is it written that Jesus, or you, are there to provide suitable drama in the scripts the shouting crowds insist on waving in your face?