Last weekend, many of us would have read/ heard the events of Palm Sunday. There are few different passages in the bible that refer to these events and lots of different versions of the bible but this is the one I read and like the most:
‘1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 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!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”’ – Matthew 21:1-11
On this day all those years ago, the people were rejoicing and celebrating Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem but a short time later, those shouts changed from ‘Hosanna!’ and ‘Blessed is the Lord!’ to ‘Crucify him!’ (Matthew 27:15-23).
When I was thinking about this blog post, I was trying to work out what this passage has to say to us today, in the current situation and I was immediately reminded of the last two Thursday evenings when at 8pm, clapping and shouting and sounds of praise and celebration rung out from the houses and streets around me in recognition of the NHS and other key workers. Just days before this, I saw multiple posts and articles on social media, and other media outlets, ‘slating’ the NHS and it’s services. I am aware that those complaints are not generally directly aimed at the people in the face to face roles, but during my hospital appointments and stays, I have experienced many situations in which people have been delayed or disappointed in some way, have become angry or aggressive towards doctors, nurses and other staff in the proximity.
We are all humans, even the NHS staff (though they appear to be superheroes, particularly at times like these), so they are not perfect – none of us here on earth are. Most of the time, they will be trying to do their best for everyone they are looking after, and sometimes there just isn’t enough people, finances, equipment, time or energy to do that for everyone – you can bet that when this happens, that the staff and volunteers involved are going to be emotionally affected by it too.
Jesus was perfect and for a moment, the people recognised that. They knew He was the one who could save them, and He was worthy of praise because He is the Son of God. However, the waving palm leaves turned to thorns and flogging, the praise turned to shouts of anger and hatred and the cries of ‘Hosanna!’ changed to ‘Crucify him!’.
I hope you will continue to praise the key workers every Thursday at 8pm (in the UK) as we recognise and celebrate the hard work they are putting in day after day to look after our friends and loved ones, but I ask that you also remember these moments of adoration in 3 months when your hospital appointment is delayed, the medication you were promised would be ready isn’t there or a nurse forgets to bring you your dinner as an inpatient. We can deal with problems like this by asking nicely, reminding politely and being thankful rather than turning our praise into anger, just like the people did on that first Palm Sunday.