A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
I love a parade; the music, the floats, the bands and performances all add to the excitement. When taking my children to parades over the years, they saw them through different eyes. Their high points were the huge balloon floats, the furry characters, the candy thrown into the crowds and the animals. Whether the animals were dogs, horses, or donkeys, it didn’t matter. They were not even impressed if there was a celebrity riding on the animal. The animals and all the antics and . . . messes that go with animals were the attractions that highlighted our conversations long after the parade ended.
This made me think about how I might respond if I had the ability to be present for that original procession of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. What if I was a part of the crowd saying “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Would I recognize the Savior? Would I come away from that experience knowing that I had just experienced the presence of the Living God? Or would I be more enamored, as the children, with the waving of the palm branches, the excitement of the crowd and the donkey?
I would hope that I would have the awareness of the presence of my Savior. I would hope that I would savor the experience of standing on Holy Ground. But as I reread the stories of those who were there, I am not sure that I would have been aware of the sanctity of the moment. I may respond more like the children and have been distracted by the antics of the donkey than with the significance of the event. After all, there were many others there that day who were vulnerable to losing sight of Jesus. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and many in the crowd turned on Him. What makes me think I would be any different?
God surrounds me each day with His wonders and blessings. When I focus on Him, I recognize His presence and am filled with appreciation and excitement; from the beauties of nature, the security of shelter, support of relationships, the empowerment of gifts and more. God is generous with these gifts on a daily basis, yet amidst these wonders, I can become more focused on the distracting antics and messes that surround me than the blessings. These can be as benign as busyness or technology distractions. They can be as challenging as conflict, losses, negative messages, doubt, frustration or illnesses.
The fact is, Christ is a presence that parades into our lives every single day. He comes wanting to bless, support, carry, love and guide us in all we do each day. We only need to recognize, accept, love and follow Him. The trick is to not be distracted by the moods of the crowds or the antics of the donkey. For when our sights are off the Savior, we are vulnerable to distraction, denial, betrayal, rejection and even complacency.
Dear Lord, during this Holy Week, Help me not fall victim to the parade of daily distractions. I pray that I recognize the blessings you bring into my life and remain steadfast focused on You, Your Love, Your Sacrifice, and Your unfailing Grace. Amen