Declaring Jesus king is easy when we’re outside the city gate, marveling at the signs and wonders we have seen, cheering with a like-minded crowd.
The hard part is doing the same inside the city gate, Jesus’ destination. This is where enemies gather and plot, where evil seems to have the upper hand, where our reputations and our very lives seem to be at stake.
Most Christians have an outside-the-gate moment. The truth seems so clear; Jesus makes himself very visible. He is in charge. He is our hope. It’s easy to lift up words of blessing, declaring his kingdom is present. We baptized two young men Sunday at Cassidy UMC, and I pray they had such an experience. I pray they continue to see God walking with them.
They and we need to remember, however, that the real test comes when we as Christ’s followers must live inside the gate, when the situation becomes muddled. Because let me tell you, who’s winning in the battle of good vs. evil can be incredibly unclear at times. That’s just the nature of the time in which we live, the time of waiting, where we look to the skies and say, “Jesus, where are you?”
Jesus’ followers found themselves very confused when the Temple plotters finally schemed a way to get Jesus arrested. We find ourselves similarly confused when we see the church seemingly bound, looking like its glory days are behind, ready to fall to secularism.
Jesus’ followers found themselves in despair when their leader went to the cross, naked and bleeding, dying the most shameful death possible. It was over, over, over. We know what it’s like to be in situations where it seems all over, too. The deaths of those around us, particularly those untimely deaths, can seem so final. A marriage ends, and our sense of trust is vanquished. We don’t reach the heights in life we imagined in our youth, and we’re sure all our dreams were for nothing.
That’s life inside the gate. And it’s how we live inside the gate that defines how fully we believe.
It’s okay to weep. It’s okay to feel an occasional tremor of doubt or fear. But can we cling to hope? Can we carry within us a sense of assurance that what we’ve been promised is real?
Jesus told his followers the whole story of his time inside the gate before he ever climbed on that donkey. He said he had to go to Jerusalem, die, and then on the third day be raised to life. And on the third day—well, I’ll bite my tongue for now. That’s a story for next week, isn’t it? The disciples simply needed to believe and remember what Jesus had told them.
Jesus has told us the whole story of his time inside human history, too. He has told us he will come again. He has told us our pain and the brokenness of the world are only temporary, that they will be put away for good one day if only we believe.
Courage—have courage. We look forward not just to Easter 2013, but to the great Easter, when all is set right. We will rejoice not just in Christ’s resurrection, but in our very own, and our joy will overcome all sorrow.