Our community group studied the Triumphal Entry a few weeks ago. Many of you know the story. Jesus enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey, confidently entering the city as its rightful king. News had spread of the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus, and the crowds flocked to see this miracle worker. Surely, if he could restore a man to life, if he could breathe life into a decomposing corpse, surely he could restore life to Israel. Surely he could free them from Roman rule.
The crowd celebrates, waving palm branches in Israelite national fervor. The crowd is excited for a conquering Christ, one who will free them from the tyranny of the Romans, one that will restore the might of Israel, one that will rule.
Tragically, they didn’t know the sort of Messiah who had come to them. He did not enter Jerusalem to wage war or to start a revolution—at least not in the way they understood it. They could not, did not see that this Christ, who truly was their King, was to be the suffering Christ. They did not see that His victory would come through seeming defeat. They did not see that his eyes were not set only on the Romans but on the bondage of the entire cosmos. The “war” he waged was on a scale beyond their comprehension. Their vision was too myopic, too immediate, too victorious.
We aren’t much different. This is why the season of Lent is so powerful.
We need to feel the weight of the statement “Christ has died” before we jump ahead to “Christ has risen.” Instead of crafting a sheeny picture of a victorious, happy world, we need to see clearly Jesus, the God-man, who bowed low to walk with us through our pain, to bear the weight of it, to feel the bitter effects of sin. His victory came through sorrow, through defeat, through suffering. And often ours does as well.
We need space to sit in the sorrow and unanswered questions. We need space to be fully present to the brokenness of the world, the erring of our hearts, the myriad “not-yets” of our present reality. We need a reminder to not dismiss suffering in an attempt to jump to the happy ending.
Easter is coming. I speak not only of the church holiday we will celebrate in a few weeks. There is a Grand Easter coming—the final, complete Resurrection and Restoration, the final Victory. We long for this day.
But today, we sit in Lent—and we sit in the presence of our suffering Christ, the one who invited us to take up our cross and follow. We sit with His sorrow and suffering—and with our own—and we wait.