This one year for my birthday, my family decided to throw me a surprise party. It was such a generous act for them; however, it was not welcomed in the way they thought it would be. I got to my house and immediately noticed that a lot of family was over after church. My cousin even said “SURPRISE!” when I walked in the door. But for some reason, I still didn’t understand that this was a party for me. Finally, I walked into the kitchen and saw a birthday cake, and that’s when I realized everyone was there to celebrate me. Y’all, I cried. I was embarrassed and felt so weird having that attention on me. I did not want to be celebrated in that way. But I am still grateful for my family for throwing a beautiful party. Jesus didn’t have this problem when he was going into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Mark 11:1-10 reads, “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, ‘What are you doing untying the colt?’ And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from their fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’”
Looking back on Jesus’ story, there were many times that he did not want people to make a big deal of who he was as the Messiah. He even instructed people to not tell what he had done for them sometimes. He didn’t want or need the attention then. But on this day, as he rides humbly into the city, He invites the praise. He welcomes it. (Maybe he didn’t freak out like me, because he knew it was coming…) It was time for him to be celebrated and praised in this public manner. But he didn’t need the praising for self-affirmation. God will be praised through us or the stones. We are simply invited to be a part of the praise God gets. Another important take away from this story is how we praise God. We don’t always get to choose what is best for us, just like Jesus discouraging public praise in the past, and now on Palm Sunday welcoming it in front of everyone. Sometimes we are called to praise through words, songs, sacrifice. However God calls us to worship him, that is how we should come. Because it isn’t about us, it’s about him.
During these final days of Lent, I pray that we all listen to what God is telling us individually. We all go through different seasons in our worship of him. Sometimes, I go months where all I want to do is journal and speak to him through my writing. And then I’ll have periods of time where I don’t journal at all, but I’ll only listen to worship music for a few months. This story of Jesus reminds us that God will be praised no matter what, and he is asking us to be a part of that. I want all of us to humble ourselves and not focus on how we want to praise him. He may be asking you to do something entirely new and different than you have before. He could be calling you to start a new hobby that will bring glory to his name, or finding a new way to do your Bible study so you get more out of it, or calling you to sacrifice something you really love to make way for something that will bring so much more fulfillment to you. I pray you listen and hear what praise he’s calling you to in this time.
Sarah Allen has been serving on the Leadership Team at The Table for the past three years. She also oversees all Children's Ministry at The Table as a member on our staff.