We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Feelings and Emotions on Palm Sunday

From Feeling Palm Sunday

For Jesus, there seems to be an emotional resolve. He is acting with great intention to demonstrate his messianic mission. The disciples trust Jesus, but are confused by the scene he is orchestrating. John gives us a glimpse into their emotions when he reflects that, “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him” (John 12:16).

How about the crowds? They are excited! They are filled with anticipation! They respond to Jesus’ entry through the matrix of their messianic expectations. They cut branches and throw cloaks in front of Jesus as they would in front of the return of a conquering king. They shout out, “Hosanna!” which means “Save us!” or “Please save us!” “From what?” you might ask. From the Romans. They call out, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” They believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that means that he will re-establish David’s kingdom. How? By overthrowing the Romans by force. So how did they feel? Triumphant. Emboldened.

There was some confusion and ambivalence in the crowd as well. First, a donkey was no way for a king to enter a city he was conquering. Second, Jesus had showed no proclivity toward violence. In fact, his teaching had opposed violence of every sort. And so, we have this interesting detail in Luke. Some in the crowd also shouted out, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38). That chorus echoes the song of the angels who welcomed the birth of Jesus. Were those who cried out for peace believing that peace would come after Jesus’ overthrow of the Romans? Did they perhaps have hope for something supernatural to break through, bringing heaven’s peace to earth? John shares that those who were there to witness Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead were there. So some at least had supernatural expectations of Jesus. How did they feel? Peaceful? Calm? Introspective? Anticipating a surprise?

Doubtless, all were filled with hope and wonder. Matthew speaks also of the excited confusion that filled Jerusalem in the wake of Jesus’ triumphal entry, “And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ (Matt 21:10).

Returning to Jesus, he was resolute. He knew that this entry would stir the wrath and envy of the Jewish leaders and Romans alike. He was compassionate toward the people, hearing their desperate cries for salvation. He was likely disappointed by the crowd’s inability to see who he was and what he offered. There is another emotion in him that I look forward to understanding one day, but I can’t wrap my own finite emotions around. When the Pharisees demand, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples,” Jesus answers, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:39b-40). The Son of God has a connection to the joyous reception of his creation that creates what emotion in him? Comfort? Strength? Joy? I can’t wait to find out one day.