On Sunday, churches around the globe will celebrate Palm Sunday, an event best known for what is called the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
When Jesus had arrived on the Mount of Olives, He sends two of his disciples to get a colt and bring it to him. They do and Dr. Luke records, “They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:35–38, NIV).
This year, this celebration coincides for both the Western and Eastern Orthodox churches.
The triumph, however, quickly turns to tragedy when less than a week later the Jewish leaders secretly arrest and try Jesus (breaking numerous of their own laws in the process), and the crowd who one week earlier lauded him, less than a week later are calling for his death by crucifixion. The reason: they had discovered that this Messiah was not going to play by their rules.
These first century Jewish people are not much different than we 21st century people. Many, if not most, want a God they can control, a God who will see things their way, and a God who will comply to their whims and wishes. When they discover that the God of the Bible is not that God, they want to do away with Him, crucify Him.
The problem with the Jesus of the New Testament is, as much as we want to make him Jesus, the meek and mild, we can’t. He is the Lion of Judah who we soon discover cannot be tamed. We discover that He is the Lion who cannot be trained to jump through our hoops, no matter how much we try to speak it into being.
Sadly, it is at this point where many turn against Him. We want a Jesus who will meet our needs, not a Jesus who will demand our allegiance.
The tame Jesus of modern Christianity is not the Jesus of the New Testament and this tame Jesus is not a Jesus worth following.
This tame Jesus can be male or female in some circles — we don’t want to offend anyone by daring to call Him the Son of God, and we certainly don’t want to refer to the Almighty God of the Universe as “Father” as He reveals Himself to be in Scripture. We must tame that and call Him/Her “Father-Mother,” lest someone take offense.
This tame Jesus makes no demands on anyone. He never identifies anything as a sin and He certainly doesn’t lay claim to being God in the Flesh; this must be a mistake made by scribes who had to have put those words in His mouth at a much later time.
One minister I know used to claim, “I only believe the words written in red.” When you pushed him on it you soon discovered he didn’t believe all of those words either. He only accepted the ones that presented him with a much tamer, a kinder, gentler Jesus who would condemn no one, or call anyone out.
People who deny Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh can’t understand why Jesus doesn’t shush Peter when he declares Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-18), or Thomas when he declares Him to be “Lord and God” (John 20:28) or why the soldiers who came to arrest Him fell to the ground when Jesus identified himself as the great “I AM” in the Garden (John 18:4-9).
You have a tame Jesus of your own. You treat Him as your cosmic servant, and if He doesn’t serve you just as you wish, like the crowds of Jerusalem, one day you laud Him and the next you curse Him. Don’t think they are so different than you, or you they.
Jesus is Lord. If you recognize that, you are well on your way to discovering who He really is and discovering what the Lord of the Universe can do in your little world, if you will truly bow your knee to Him.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway Web site at www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.