A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 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!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21: 8-11
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”. . . And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. Matthew 27: 45-46; 50-52a
Celebration and elation. Agony and despair. These words live in juxtaposition with each other, seemingly disparate and distinctly different. They represent deep and dissimilar emotions, and yet, they can happen so close together in time.
Ten years ago we were anticipating the birth of our third grandson. Our daughter had a healthy pregnancy and she was due soon. We were elated and ready to celebrate this new member of our family. And then — I got the call. My son-in-law sounded worried. My daughter had delivered a healthy baby boy and things seemed like they were going well, when suddenly, her condition deteriorated and they took her back into surgery.
My heart immediately sank into despair and agony as my son-in-law described the situation. As I raced to the hospital, I prayed she would live, but knowing God was in charge, I prayed He would wrap his heavenly arms around her no matter what the outcome. “If she can’t be with me,” I prayed, “Please God, take her to be with You, in a heavenly place filled with love.” During her surgery, she was given many units of blood, and while she survived the surgery, the severe loss of blood continued to put her in jeopardy over the next night and day. This was a time when I experienced agony and complete despair. The story ends well, however, because after a long period of recovery, our daughter was restored to health and was able to enjoy her darling baby boy. At last, our family was able to celebrate his birth and her recovery.
Perhaps everyone at some time in their life can relate to the emotions of celebration and elation; and then agony and despair. We know even our Lord experienced these same emotions as the scriptures told us. Can you picture the crowd shouting “Hosanna in the highest”? They were celebrating Jesus as their long, awaited Messiah! Their words and actions proved they knew Jesus was fulfilling prophecy. He WAS their King! Celebration and elation!
And yet, in a few short days, people would turn against Him. They would cry, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” They would beat Him, humiliate Him and murder Him by hanging Him on the cross. At the very end, Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” Agony and despair.
And yet, we know the end of the story—while there can be celebration and elation, and then agony and despair, Christ gives us joy in the morning. He was left to die in agony; even the earth seemed to be in agony and despair during and after his crucifixion. But we know He rose from the dead to bring us joy and forgiveness of our sins. He took every sin on Himself and died for us — but then He rose from the dead and we can again celebrate, “He lives!” A celebration!
Dear Heavenly Father,
We love you for the sacrifice you have made for us. Knowing that you gave your only Son to die for us and that He rose again, gives us courage and hope. We hear your scriptures about the celebration of the crowd and the agony and despair of the crucifixion. We know life is filled with the deep emotions of celebration, elation, agony and despair and we ask that your be with us throughout our every emotion and thought. Give us strength and courage during our times of agony and despair. And let us remember “He is Risen, He is Risen indeed” during times of celebration and elation. In the name of our precious Lord and Savior, Amen.
Written by Julie Johnson