Matthew 21:10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”
It is Palm Sunday today, a day that Christians all over the world remember Jesus, riding on a donkey, entering the gates of Jerusalem, where he was welcomed by multitudes waving palm branches, and shouting “Hosanna”. It was no doubt a glorious moment although short-lived as it was followed rather quickly by his suffering and crucifixion. Nonetheless, at this point he was celebrated by the people as a miracle worker, teacher, even a prophet. (“This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matt 21:11) But the greatest truth about who Jesus is was yet to be revealed in the days to come.
Who do you say that I am?
The people who followed him during his life on earth were likewise challenged with this question. Just a few chapters earlier in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus himself asked his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt 16:13-16 Wow! Peter gave such a bold and accurate declaration of his Rabbi’s identity, even though he probably did not completely understand what that meant and how Jesus would eventually demonstrate the fullness of his identity, through his death and resurrection.
Who is Jesus?
The question is as relevant today as it was then. In a world plagued with wars, viruses, rising oil prices, financial hardship, natural calamities, political divide and multiple levels of human conflict, one’s personal response to this question still has the greatest impact in both life and death. This week is a good time to reflect on (or wrestle with) this as we commemorate the most significant events in human history – Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. I am certain that many of us are carrying heavy hearts these days. But even as we are drowning in the enormity of our human suffering, our response to the question of who Jesus is ultimately defines who we are and determines the direction of our lives.
Who is Jesus is not just a question that an unbeliever must make up his mind about someday. It demands a reply even from those of us who claim to know him. It is possible that our lenses of faith have been blurred with doubt, apathy and indifference. We need God’s word to wipe them clear so that we can see Jesus again for the holy, righteous and faithful king that he really is, instead of the harmless idea that we have fashioned him to be. As the human heart is prone to wander, we should pray for the Holy Spirit to redirect our love and our passions back to him who purchased us with nothing less than his own blood. Wherever we are in our journey, the truth of who Jesus is will be worthy of our deepest repentance and highest praise.
The apostle Paul was very much aware of such joy in knowing Christ that he said: “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Phil 3:8 And this is how he beautifully described Jesus in his letter to the Colossians. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:15-20
What the apostle Paul penned in a paragraph might take me a lifetime to fully comprehend. But I believe there is absolutely no better way to spend an entire lifetime than in pursuit of Him who died and gave His life for me. One day there will be a gathering of those who know Christ and are known by him, clothed in white robes and waving palm branches in heavenly worship of the Lamb who was slain. There will be no question about who he is for every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10