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Why Palm Sunday became a time for tears

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Roger Campbell
By Roger Campbell

Passover was near and thousands were gathering at Jerusalem for this important occasion. Jesus and His disciples were among them and as they descended from the Mount of Olives the crowd broke into shouts of praise, crying: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”

This enthusiastic welcome must have taken the disciples by surprise. On a previous visit to Jerusalem, there had been an attempt on their Lord’s life; now He was being welcomed warmly with His arrival being called the fulfillment of Zechariah’s ancient prophecy: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King is coming to you. He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
To celebrate their acceptance of this one they now called their king, the people placed palm branches along the road before Him; hence the reason for calling the annual celebration of this event Palm Sunday. In remembering the triumph of that day, however, we’re prone to forget its tears.

When Jesus neared Jerusalem, He began to weep because he knew difficult times were ahead for this beloved city. Jerusalem would ultimately be under siege by Roman soldiers; its citizens enduring untold suffering. The city would be leveled and the temple destroyed. But this weeping one would also suffer. In a few days the mood of the crowd would change; their chants of praise would become calls for crucifixion.

Why then was Jesus so concerned about them? Why these tears?

Centuries earlier, Isaiah had written that the promised redeemer would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3), a prophecy that was fulfilled again and again as our Lord ministered to the poor, the sick, the dying. Now, though the fickle crowd would soon turn against Him, Jesus grieved over their coming calamities and wept for them, being more concerned with their imminent suffering than His own.

Why are we not more like Him?

In his book, “Dark Threads the Weaver Needs,” Herbert Lockyer says, “At the head of the procession of the world’s sufferers is a thorn-crowned man,” adding the reason most of us don’t measure up to His compassion for others is because we’re too busy looking in a mirror to look out the window.
“In a mirror,” Lockyer writes, “you see only yourself, but through a window you do not see yourself but others.”

Our Lord was ever concerned about the pain, poverty and suffering of others. His first prayer from the cross was for the forgiveness of His tormentors. And even in that place of humiliation and suffering, He took time to minister to a repentant dying thief, assuring him of heaven.

Are you so occupied with your own problems that you lack compassion for others?

Are you unlike your Lord in caring for the poor, the suffering, the discouraged and despairing?
Remember Palm Sunday’s tears. And replace your mirror with a window.

Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. Contact us at rcministry@ameritech.net