Palm Sunday and “The Things that Make for Peace”

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I don’t know what it will be like celebrating Palm Sunday from home today. The church I attend is going to do online communion. That might feel really weird, or it might be deeply moving. We’ll see.

We’ve also been invited to gather some type of branch to wave as we sing the Palm Sunday worship songs from our living room. I’m looking for something artificial to use—I’m not bringing all that pollen into the house (Lorie and I both have allergies)!

I don’t know what it will be like celebrating Palm Sunday from home, but in this, the year when I’m focusing on PEACE, I want to point out a Palm Sunday Scripture that often gets overlooked:

As [Jesus] came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).

In our typical Palm Sunday services, as the children are marching down the aisle, and we are waving our palms, we often forget—or maybe aren’t aware—that on that first Palm Sunday, Jesus was weeping.

Why? Because the people didn’t recognize “the things that make for peace.”

And let me hasten to point out that Jesus’ weeping wasn’t just about the fact that the people did not recognize him as the Savior who would die for their sins. Luke tells us that he was weeping specifically because of an upcoming conflict:

“Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God” (Luke 19:43-44).

What Jesus foretold through tears on the first Palm Sunday is exactly what happened in 70 C.E.

The Romans laid siege to Jerusalem for four brutal months. They burned the city, slaughtered a million people, and completely destroyed the Temple. With the riches they stole from the Temple, they went back to Rome and built the colosseum.

Jesus knew as he rode into Jerusalem that day that the people would bring this upon themselves. They would refuse to follow the peaceful way of Jesus. They would refuse to join his revolution of love.

Instead they would stubbornly insist on having their own way. Blindly believing that God was on their side, they would fight.

And they would lose. Horribly.

Why? Because they did not recognize “the things that make for peace.”

What saddens me is that 2000 years later, we still don’t get it. We still refuse to follow the peaceful way of Jesus. We still insist on having our own way. We still believe, blindly, that God endorses our self-centered power grabs.

Like the crowds on that first Palm Sunday, we sing the praises of Jesus, but we refuse to join his revolution of love.

And I can’t help but imagine that Jesus still weeps.