Training, Suffering and a Parade
I rarely run on Sundays and especially allow running to get in the way of me gathering with other people at church. And even more rare is allowing running to take me away from a Holy Week service. This year, however, I signed up to coach a group whose target race would be run on Palm Sunday morning.
A few weeks before the race the director contacted me and asked if I would lead a devotion before the race. Of course, I said yes.
Here is the devotional thought. I even found a way to connect running with the Palm Sunday.
Today is Palm Sunday. According to scripture, it was like a parade. There was an equine unit, a crowd and there was a feature person.
God thought the event was important.
Why? It was the beginning of the end for Christ on earth and for us the beginning of what we call Holy Week. It was also another step toward the even that would offer us life. It was the one event where the people of His time recognized Jesus as something AMAZING. He was the focus of the parade.
With a little imagination, we can connect the Palm Sunday event with today's race.
- He had done all the prep. Everything he had done for 33 years on earth led him to that day.
- He had worked with and led his team, walking a lot of training miles.
- He knew he was going to suffer. That is going to happen for some of us today.
- And he was going to be in a parade. We are going to be on a 13.1-mile parade and at the end, they will be cheering.
“As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’” The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.””
Today is the day we set aside to remember that event and call it Palm Sunday because they took palm branches and lined the road along with their coats.
They were saying:
This is the man everyone is talking about, He must be special...who is He...blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord...Hossanna...we praise you...God save us now.
As you look at all that is going on today, running the miles, the people cheering us on, and even our suffering, I challenge you to think back to this Palm Sunday event, what led up to it and what it was leading to.
As people are running around you think:
They put training into this...Jesus put 33 years on earth, for us.
The runners have done all the prep and most of them have been on a journey with a team or group. Jesus walked with his disciples, teaching them, things recorded in scripture, all for us.
As you see runners suffering, as you suffer, we know we were going to suffer remember, Jesus knew He was going to suffer and He was going to make the ultimate sacrifice, His Life.
It is recorded in scripture that He was dreading it.... He asked God to not let it happen but if it was necessary Jesus was willing to do what His Father ask.
The runners are going to feel like they are on a parade, especially at the end.
The praise happens but it is short lived and for Jesus, it was short lived. In just a short amount of time, some of the same people that were giving Him praise were calling for his crucifixion, His death.
Jesus knew he was going to suffer, but his suffering wasn't so that he could get a medal, a shirt or maybe win his age group. His suffering was so that we, you and I, could have the ultimate prize, a relationship with him, an opportunity to ask Him to forgive us of our sins and call Him Savior.
And think of this...we don't have to do anything…BUT ask Him to forgive us of our sins, and be willing to let Him be Lord (let Him be what drives) of our lives.
In Corinthians, we find these words:
"Christ died for our sins, just as the scriptures said. He was buried and raised from the dead on the third day, just as the scriptures said."
In Romans we find these:
"For all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard, yet now God in His gracious kindness declared us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus who has freed us from our sin.
Let what we experience today help us remember Palm Sunday, the parade into Jerusalem, and what it was leading to. Let it be a reminder of all that Christ has done for us and offers to us.