“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Reading this today, Ash Wednesday, seems a bit ironic at first. On Ash Wednesday, much of Christendom is focused on confession, repentance and sorrow over sin. In Ash Wednesday services all over the world, clergy and elders will apply ashes in the shape of a cross to the foreheads of repentant congregants. There is solemnity on this day. Contriteness. Humility comes with the realization that we are sinful and in need of the forgiveness found in the gracious Son of God.
Our solemn church ritual presents a dramatic contrast to the image of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Upon his arrival, an adoring public crowded around to worship him. They threw their cloaks and tree branches to cover the road in front of him and used words of worship for the God who sent him. It was a scene of great joy! A scene of excitement! It was the opposite of our traditionally quiet Ash Wednesday introspection.
Perhaps it’s not as strange as it seems. Maybe worship and solemn reflection go together. After all, doesn’t worship of God lead us to humble repentance? How can we joyfully anticipate the power of Easter Sunday without mournfully remembering our weakness?
The solemnity and joy go together beautifully. On Ash Wednesday, we enter 47 days of solemn confession and repentance to prepare for the most joyful celebration of them all: Easter.
There is another beautiful aspect of this moment in Jesus’ journey. Those who proclaim “Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (vs 9) hit the nail on the head. The man humbly riding on a donkey had indeed come in the name of the Lord. It may not have seemed like it when he hung from a tree on Good Friday, but it became obvious when he walked out of the grave on Easter Sunday.
Through the next 47 days, let us remember that Jesus is not God because he was resurrected – he was resurrected because he is God. He has been God forever, and he will be God forever. He was God when he created the world by the power of his spoken word, when he was born in a manger, when he chose his disciples, when he healed the sick and when he rode into Jerusalem.
In the coming weeks, my prayer is that you will allow yourself to be just like the crowd the day he arrived in Jerusalem: they worshiped and they wondered. (vs 9-10) I pray that you will come to Jesus with a new sense of worship and wonder in this Lenten season. Worship the King who has come, and repent as the sinner you are. It is a season for both.
- What is the most difficult thing you need to repent of?
- What is the most wonderful thing about Jesus?
Spend the day prayerfully thinking about how your answers intersect on Ash Wednesday.
Check out the next post in our Lenten devotional here.
This was an excerpt from Easter is Coming, a Devotional Journey with Jesus. For all six weeks of Lent devotionals, please download the e-book here.