What are you ex­pect­ing?

The Covington News - - Religion - JAN MCCOY

At Passover, the peo­ple came out to wel­come Je­sus as he started into the city. Je­sus had per­formed many mir­a­cles, and had raised Lazarus from the dead. His fol­low­ers were many, and now he was mak­ing an en­trance – a grand en­trance into Jerusalem. The peo­ple were ex­pect­ing a king to come and de­liver them from Ro­man rule and to re­store the lin­eage of David to the throne. The last time a king had come rid­ing into Jerusalem on a horse, it was to de­liver the tem­ple from the hands of the Seleu­cids, who had taken over Jerusalem and had des­e­crated the tem­ple, turn­ing it into a tem­ple for wor­ship­ping pa­gan gods. They had even sac­ri­ficed pigs on the al­tar of the Lord. Ju­das Mac- cabee came to de­liver the Jews from Seleu­cid rule, re­take the tem­ple for Is­rael, and re-es­tab­lish it as a tem­ple to God. The crowd ex­pected Je­sus to do some­thing sim­i­lar – to ride into the city on a stal­lion poised and ready for ac­tion. They ex­pected him to drive out the Ro­mans and re­turn Judea to rule un­der an Is­raelite King. They wel­comed their king, their sav­ior, the one they ex­pected to free them to live in peace. Or so they thought. The crowds were grow­ing, the party was be­gin­ning, the ex­pec­ta­tions were high!

The scenes that fol­low are pas­sion­ate scenes of Je­sus’ love and weep­ing for Jerusalem as he knows what will hap­pen only days from now. On a hill not far from here, these very peo­ple will be­tray and kill him. In hours, he will over­turn the ta­bles in the tem­ple, out­rag­ing the mer­chants and priests. But for now, he rides, slowly and peacefully, lis­ten­ing to the sound of the crowds as they usher in what they ex­pect to be their idea of the King­dom of God.

So what are you ex­pect­ing? Do you ex­pect some­one to ride in on a white horse and de­liver you from all of your pain and suf­fer­ing? Do you ex­pect to be de­liv­ered from ev­ery heartache or ill­ness? Do you ex­pect some­one to pull you up out of the dif­fi­culty you have made for your­self by bad de­ci­sions? Je­sus did come to heal the sick and the suf­fer­ing of peo­ple, but more than that, Je­sus came to suf­fer with us and for us. Cer­tainly, mir­a­cles do hap­pen, and we al­ways are bold to pray for them. But are you trust­ing God on a daily ba­sis, not just when times are un­cer­tain or when life is not go­ing as you had planned? Je­sus came to walk with us through the stuff of life, to be Em­manuel — “God with us” in good times and in the midst of suf­fer­ing. John Wes­ley’s dy­ing words were, “Best of all, God is with us.” We do not have to walk those days of suf­fer­ing or ill­ness or de­spair alone. God will walk with us and give us in­ter­nal peace in the midst of ex­ter­nal tur­moil.

As we en­ter into Holy Week, the week be­tween Palm Sun­day and Easter, let us not for­get the suf­fer­ing that Je­sus en­dured for us. Je­sus en­dured suf­fer­ing, pain, tor­ture, and even death for us so that we would not have to walk alone in our own suf­fer­ing. Each Len­ten sea­son, we retell the story of Je­sus' last hours on earth, from the gar­den to the cross to the tomb. This year, many tal­ented and gifted peo­ple have come to­gether to cre­ate a jour­ney called the Sta­tions of the Cross. This in­ter­ac­tive jour­ney takes the scrip­tures that tell the story of Je­sus’ trial and death and helps us re­late to them in a con­tem­po­rary way. The free ex­hibit is hosted by Cov­ing­ton First United Methodist Church and is open to the public. (Open Sun­day through Fri­day through Good Fri­day. For hours, see our web­site at www.cov­ing­ton­first.org) Come and walk the steps that Je­sus walked.

So, what are you ex­pect­ing this Holy sea­son? Ex­pect to be changed by God from the in­side, and ex­pect that what­ever you face, re­gard­less how dire or grave it may seem, when you trust Je­sus to walk with you, you do not have to face life’s hard­ships alone.

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