The appropriate response to being in the presence of Jesus is joy and praise. Both of these things are needed, and both are present whenever Jesus is present and is received with faith.
It seems odd to be reading about the Triumphal Entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday at the end of summer, in the middle of the long season of Trinity that doesn’t have the landmarks of other seasons like Christmas or Easter. But the Triumphal Entry is a scene that Christians ought to re-enact every day of the year, and so this is a passage for every day of the year and not just one day, just as Christmas and Easter are here every day of the year and not only one.
The truth is that Jesus rides into your life every morning. The question is not “Will He come today?” but “How will I respond when He does come?” Every day we are part of the multitude of disciples in verse 37, some of who rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they have seen. Jesus had done no fresh miracle on Palm Sunday: what is notable is that the multitude of disciples chooses to respond this day to the mighty works they had seen. And if you are a Christian, you too have seen the mighty works of God. You, too, by faith are a witness to the birth of Jesus Christ, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. You, too, have seen how God has taken the sick and sinful people in your life and healed and saved them. Like me, you have seen the mighty works of God in your own life.
So what is your response today?
That multitude of disciples on Palm Sunday responded with the loud voice of joy and praise because both joy and praise are necessary. Joy comes in and praise goes out of Jesus’ disciples. Joy is subjective (though it has an objective cause: the presence of Jesus) and inward: it is the personal response to the presence of Jesus in your life, through His life, His Word, and His deeds. Joy is for our benefit, but it is a sign to God that we have responded in faith. It is just such joy that has characterized the saints of the past whenever they see Jesus. One of my favorite responses to the presence of Jesus is that of the wise men, who showed by their response both their faith and wisdom. In Matthew 2:10, we read that when the wise men saw the Star which stood over where the child Jesus was “they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.” Not simply “they rejoiced” or “they rejoiced greatly,” but “they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.”
That is to be the first part of our response.
The second part is praise. Praise is outward in nature, for it is not what comes into us but what comes out of us, out of our encounter with Jesus and out of our joy. Unlike joy, which is partially for our benefit, praise is entirely for God’s glory. There is no other motivation in praise than to give to God the glory that is His.Sometimes the world wants to silence our praise. “Teacher, rebuke your disciples,” the Pharisees tell Jesus.
But Jesus’ response is “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones themselves would immediately cry out.”
You can’t contain the joy of God’s people or the praise of God’s creation. Silence His disciples if you can, but try shutting up the sun and the moon. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19.)
So let us join our voices with the multitude of disciples in saying this morning: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
When you do, even if you are alone in rejoicing and praising this morning, you are never alone. You are always part of the great multitude of disciples, called the Church, who rejoice and praise God every day. These are the saints around the world who sing God’s praises, and they are joined by those who have passed into heaven before us. To their voices and ours are added the voices of the angels and archangels who never stop rejoicing and praising.
Joy comes in and praise goes out of Jesus’ disciples whenever they truly meet Him. Seek Jesus today, rejoice, and give praise to God!
Prayer: Lord, may I, your humble servant like Zacchaeus, seek and find You today. May I remember Your mighty works both when You were on earth and those You have done in my life. When I see You today, as many times as I see You, may I rejoice with exceedingly great joy and cry out with loud praises to You.
Point for Meditation: Joy and praise are intimately connected and effect each other. 1. Spend some time praising God today and expect to experience joy in the process. Sing some of your favorite spiritual songs: better yet, gather some of your friends and sing them together with gusto!
- Find a favorite Psalm and recite it aloud with emphasis.
- Find a part of God’s creation that brings you joy and experience God through it today.
Resolution: I resolve today to bring to mind the might things that God has done. I resolve to respond with joy and praise, even if these might be small in the beginning.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson