This week at Everyday Truth, we’re celebrating Easter with a family devotional each day. Each one is designed to be used with your kids to take a look at a different aspect of the Easter story.
Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. When she went to bed last night, today looked like a happy day. She has birthday treats to take to school, and we were going to go shopping for a new bedspread and decorations for her room for her birthday present after school.
Then, she was up half the night with a horrible headache. She woke up this morning with a sore throat. Unless she makes a huge recovery in the next hour, it looks like we’ll be spending her birthday in pajamas, curled up on the couch watching movies.
This is not the birthday I would have predicted for her yesterday as she ran around with her friends at her birthday party. It was a day of fun and celebration. Lots of smiles and laughter were had while celebrating her life.
Can you think of a time when you were expecting something good and something different happened? How did you feel? Did anything good end up coming of the different thing that happened?
That’s what happened at the very beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life. He entered Jerusalem to much joy. People lined the streets and laid palm branches on the ground as He passed by. They celebrated his arrival. They shouted and celebrated. Matthew 21:9 says “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”
By the end of the week, things would be different — not at all what an onlooker would have predicted as they watched the celebration as Jesus entered the city. Those same people that had celebrated Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem would be demanding His death. This man who had been celebrated as He entered the city would be handed over to the Roman authorities, beaten and sentenced to die on a cross. It was a scenario that would have been unthinkable just a few days before.
As you think about Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and how quickly things changed during the week, remember that Jesus was not what the Jews of the day expected. The Jews of that time were living under Roman rule, which meant they had to follow Roman laws and they didn’t have a lot of freedom. The prophecies in the Bible had told them that Jesus would be their savior. They thought that meant He would come and defeat the Romans, but God meant for Jesus to save everyone from a life separated from God. That required a different kind of sacrifice than the one the Jews were expecting. And the Jews didn’t like that. They felt like Jesus had let them down. It wasn’t what they were expecting.
Even though Jesus wasn’t what the Jews expected, the events of the week following the celebration of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem — Jesus’ death and resurrection — allow us to have a relationship with God. Those events mean that our sin doesn’t separate us from God forever. Jesus provides a bridge to God, which is a cause for celebration. The Jewish people that celebrated Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem were right to celebrate. They just had the wrong reasons in mind.
This week, with your family, memorize Matthew 21:9. Those words are words of celebration, and Easter gives us a reason to be joyful. Jesus became the sacrifice that allows us to have a relationship with God. And, that’s a great reason to celebrate.