Life Before the Resurrection
This past weekend we celebrated Palm Sunday and reflected on Jesus’ life before the resurrection. What a marvelous day it must have been for the disciples when Jesus was finally honored, praised, and celebrated. They may have started to wonder when this day would come. How many times had Jesus performed miracles and drawn a crowd, only to move on quickly to a new town? How many times did Jesus resist the applause of the crowd, instead opting to steal away for a time of prayer? Yet Palm Sunday was short-lived.
Finally Finding the Applause
These men had followed this obscure man from Nazareth for years, holding precious in their hearts the knowledge that Jesus was the Messiah. And now their leader is finally recognized for the king they expected Him to be.
Just as it was for the disciples then, celebrating Palm Sunday today is a moment of embracing the beauty, majesty, and glory of Christ. It is the time to celebrate those few precious days when Christ was honored in Jerusalem, among His people.
Finally, the disciples felt validated, and their faith was emboldened as the crowds cried, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” They had no idea how soon the tables would turn, how the celebration would turn to crucifixion and the praise would turn to persecution.
Time of Celebration
There are times of celebration in which it is good and beautiful to rejoice over baptisms, to celebrate communion, and to savor the rich community we have with other saints. We celebrate forgiveness, peacemaking, and sacrificial love that emulates our savior.
There are times of celebration in which it is good and just to rejoice over our new projects being finished, our new ideas coming to fruition and our new partnerships flourishing. Even God Himself stopped at the end of each day of creation to savor the completion of His labor and to take satisfaction in seeing that “it is good.”
Eyes on Heaven
Jesus knew it wouldn’t last, even -in the very moment he was being celebrated as King. I’m sure He enjoyed the praise. And yet, He knew the tides would quickly turn. He knew the praise would turn to accusation. He knew that He would go from being carried by a donkey to carrying a cross and His life would move from affection to affliction.
What was He contemplating? We know He was asking God the Father if there was another way. We know His spirit was pressed and crushed in the Garden of Gethsemane. If He thought His death was the end, then only the pain would fill his mind. If He clung to His life on earth as so many do, it would only have increased the anguish and pain. Yet we read in Hebrews,
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)
Joy Beyond the Present
His joy was conquering death so we could find new life in Jesus. The joy that all Christians are looking forward to is the joy of living with God in the New Heavens and the New Earth. This is our eternal hope that should outshine all earthly hopes. For nothing compares to the treasures stored up in Heaven for those that believe in Jesus.
We don’t talk about Heaven very much in our culture. Unfortunately, Christians tend to talk about Heaven more when they are being persecuted, because it highlights the hope we have. It makes sense because this is especially helpful amidst suffering. But most of the great men and women of faith have exhorted us to spend time thinking about our own death, and our new life in Heaven.
A heavenly focus serves to keep life in perspective. It reminds us that the great coffee you enjoy on the corner, and the designer shoes you wore to walk there are but a vapor. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them. It just keeps things in the right context. I don’t think we will ever be walking the golden streets recalling our earthly cappuccinos, fancy cars, or designer clothes. If we remember it at all, we will probably ask each other, “How did we find any of that so satisfying before Jesus came again.”
An Enduring Hope
Your spiritual hope is the only hope that has the power to stand the test of time, until we finally begin strolling the streets of gold. God gives us peace amidst trials today, as well as the promise of Heaven. This is the only hope that never fails. The only hope that can lift our spirits when our creative projects fall apart, and when obstacles and frustrations begin to overwhelm us. The only hope that lasts is an eternal hope, and that is why we cannot afford to divorce our creative hope from our spiritual hope. If we believe the Gospel, then the best is yet to come, no matter how bleak the present moment may be.
Art in Heaven
Imagine the joy we will experience in Heaven. It is only in that new city that we will finally be free to develop our gifts fully and be able to create without the limitations we face in this life. No budgetary constraints or limited resources. Our gifts will find their complete fulfillment in the context of the New Jerusalem. Our minds can anticipate, but not fully comprehend the art we will be able to create in Heaven. It is simply too beautiful for us to imagine. For now, the very thought is sublime, in the true sense of it being beyond comprehension.
The Hope of Heaven
The praise Jesus received on Palm Sunday was short-lived in Jerusalem. In a few days, Jesus will be Crucified. If you didn’t know where the story was headed, you would be devastated. But if you understood the prophecies, you would see this is the major reveal in the grand plot. From here on out, it only gets better. In the eternal vision of God, Palm Sunday was a foretaste of the worship and praise we will offer Christ in glory when we join all the saints at the great wedding feast in the New Jerusalem.
Though we will have reasons to celebrate in this life, and wonderful opportunities to thank God for the blessings of this life, wisdom reminds us to always keep an eye toward the joy we will experience when we live in the presence of God, in the New Jerusalem. This is where the journey leads, and where Jesus is waiting to take us.
This is the hope that must fuel our mind, heart, and soul as we create, collaborate, and curate for the King! It gives us contentment in the present and hope for the future.
May we stand in praise of the only wise King who is Eternal, Immortal, and Faithful. For He is our Hope.
Responding In Hope
How do you refocus your heart when life gets hard? How does your spiritual life become the deep resource for your heart and your creative life? Do you think of the Cross, of Psalm 23, of Heaven, or something else?
How do you balance healthy gratitude and celebration in the present, without losing sight of the glory of Heaven?
We don’t talk about this much in the church, and I really want to hear your ideas or experiences in your creative pursuits. So leave us your thoughts in the comments section below!
Copyright © 2022 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.