There are many things to say about the pageant of Easter. It is that second time of the year, along with Christmas, when many people come out to join in the celebration of a religious holiday. There will be enough written about that shallow approach to worship, so I won’t waste any more time addressing that myself.
What I want us to remember are two, true things that Easter represents: the triumphal entry and the death on a cross.
The triumphal entry represents the perfect example of what Jesus Christ deserves. From the angels in Heaven, to the pitiful residents of Hades, all of creation could recognize the moment of God’s entry into the Holy City of Jerusalem. Rome did not notice or care; other civilizations were not even aware. Yet, it was the declaration of God’s love and, in return, the gratitude that the whole world should offer. “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Those everlasting words are the true sound of faith and loyalty that God alone deserves.
Unfortunately, the cross was also in the shadows. What people wanted and what Jesus Christ was offering, on behalf of God, was not the same thing. Jerusalem wanted the power and control that Rome had over them. They wanted to switch roles with their oppressors. They wanted Jesus to lead the march into Rome and let the Jews ride his coattails into glorious domination of the whole world. When the Jews found out that God’s Son was not going to accommodate their desires, they killed the son and looked for some other person who would be more in line with the political hero they were wanting.
Since that time, things and people have not changed very much. We may seem a bit more sophisticated with cell phones and three-piece suits, but we go to the Easter parade each year hoping the outcome will be more suitable to our liking. Or we will participate for a little while just like the Jews of the First Century. We want God to accommodate our desires instead of the other way around.
Of course, we will always be able to enjoy the parade. We can dress up and join the other spectators. We can buy a hot dog or two for the kids. We may enjoy some cotton candy ourselves. But when the parade is over and the last fancy float covered with flowers has finished passing by, we will still be disappointed. Just like at Christmas time, when Santa Claus has passed by, we know the parade is over. Things go back to the way they were. The kids are temporarily happy and the parents get ready to spend money on presents that will not last very long, for children whose gratitude is short lived!
The Easter Parade is significant only to those who finally see beyond the superficial and find its true meaning. The parade is not a sham. It is a true recognition of the wonderful reality of God’s love for this world. If Jesus Christ had been a good politician, the world would have made a place for him. It would have been wine, woman and song, and a crown and a throne. The world is full of such hopeful politicians. Instead, Jesus Christ chose to be what God had intended: a spiritual Savior, a King for the invisible world, someone with a tender heart and soul. Nevertheless, most in the world are still looking for a charismatic politician who will tell then what they want to hear.
However, don’t lose heart…Some precious few are still finding a savior, who can give them what they really need!
Joseph M. Westfall is a bi-vocational minister living in Oak Ridge and attending West Village Christian Church in Oak Ridge. Since 1975, his ministry has covered pastoral positions in 17 churches across several denominational lines in six different states. He has special training and experience in interim ministry for churches in transition. He has a Biblical style and teaching heart. He encourages honesty and the Holy Spirit. His favorite response to a sermon he has preached? “You make me think!”