Once upon a time, a man comes to the great ancient Philosopher, Socrates and says to him, “O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge.” The philosopher did not say a word but leads the young man down to the sea, and wading in with him, dunks him under the water for thirty seconds, and he lets him up for air. Then he asks him to state again what he desires, and the young man repeats, “O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge!”
After restating his intention Socrates puts him back under the water, but he keeps him a little longer than the first time. Letting him out he asked him what he wants now, and the young man who was choking exclaims, “O great Socrates, please I want Air!” Smiling Socrates responds and says to him “when you want knowledge as much as you want air, you shall have it.” If you have a passion for anything, nothing stops you from getting it, but yourself, when you give up.
One thing that most great people in the world have in common is passion. Name them, Abraham Lincoln had passion for freedom; Mahatma Gandhi had a passion for human rights. Martin Luther King Jnr had passion for equality; Mother Theresa had passion for the poorest of the poor. And today we would learn that our Lord Jesus Christ had a passion for our souls. Passion is the springboard of excellence and success.
Today is Palm Sunday and the doorway of the Holy Week. Today is also known as Passion Sunday as the Passion Narrative introduces us to the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the opening ceremony of the Palms, we heard the Gospel of Luke (19:28-40) which tells us about the entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.
This entry of the Lord into Jerusalem is different from the other visits because of the events surrounding it, and it is fittingly referred to as the Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. While our Lord was getting close to Jerusalem, he sends two of his disciples on a dramatic errand that could capture and sustain the attention and contemplation of any active mind. Why would our Lord need a colt tied on a tree as a conveyance to Jerusalem and why was the need urgent?
In Matthew’s account of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-11), we learn that there was a donkey alongside the colt and again they were tied to a tree, and the need for two animals was urgent. The tree here reminds us of the tree at the middle of the Garden of Eden where the serpent lured them into sin.
The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is to pay the price of the sin of Adam and Eve which ruptured the relationship between God and humanity. The colt represents our souls that God needs urgently. The coming of Jesus Christ into our context is to disengage our souls from the tree of sin. The tree around which the colt is tied reminds us of the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden (Gen.3:3) where our first parents erred.
Furthermore, the Village is known as Bethphage, and the name means “house of unripe fruits.” We can see from the name that the soul is suffering from deficiency; that means unfit for God. Christ, our Lord, came not only to undo the power of that tree and replace it with the tree of redemption namely, the Cross of Calvary but also to raise our souls from being unripe and unfit to being ripe and fit for the harvest.
The Lord’s Passion for your Soul: “He Lord Need It!”
One of the ways to demonstrate our passion for something is to go for it without wasting time. We see that note of urgency when Jesus sends two his disciples to Bethphage to untie the colt from the tree and same to him. By this act, our Lord demonstrates that he cannot wait any longer to save our souls from the prison of sin and damnation.
Our Lord’s passion for our Souls made him come down to our lowly state to become human like us in all things but sin (Heb. 4:15). St. Paul says, though he was in the form of God Jesus did not regard equality with God but emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-9).
Today we step into a critical time of contemplative remembrance of the passion Jesus Christ had for our souls to the point of offering up himself as a sacrifice to purchase our redemption. St. John says that he is the propitiation for our sins and that of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Attentive to the preceding, we understand that the Lord has a passionate need for our souls that have been tied securely on the stake of sin and damnation. He has come to deliver our souls from its prison of abandonment to the tree of sin outside Jerusalem into the Jerusalem of redemption. Our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem marks the actual beginning of the triumph over sin and death that have besieged our souls represented by the colt upon which he rode. The highest point of the triumph will be his death on the cross on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter.
Moving Forward: Showing our Passion for the Lord!
The Psalmist once asked, “what shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? And he answers and says, “I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (Psalm 116:12-14).
Some people erroneously think that they could make a return for God’s goodness by merely coming to Church on Sundays or any other “important” day or making some big donations or offerings to the Church. Making a material offering is commendable, but the offering of our souls to God is more desirable to Him. We don’t come to Church to please God but to obtain spiritual nourishment for our faith journey.
The best return we can make to the Lord is to be passionate about what He wants from us. Most of us have a passion for a lot of things but not what should be helpful to our lives. You become passionate about God by loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and loving others as you would love yourself (Luke 10:27). Furthermore, you demonstrate your love for God through your faithful obedience to Him (John 14:15).
As we launch into the Holy Week with the ceremony of the Palms today, let us focus on our Lord’s passionate passion for the redemption of our souls and strive to return his liberating love by living holy and worthy lives throughout this season and beyond.
Have a regenerating Holy Week and may God bless you.