“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
It’s always enlightening to me that whenever there is something novel, unique, or otherwise trending – people will be drawn toward it. When this occurs, we may be prompted to begin a new project or venture. For instance, you might start a diet after hearing that others have lost a lot of weight on it. But if your willpower is different than theirs or the food choices are unappealing, your level of interest might quickly regress. When the project or goal starts to wane in significance, becomes unappealing, or cannot stir enough motivation – it can be quite easy to move on with diminished enthusiasm. We humans are easily swayed when we allow ourselves to be sidetracked by whims or popular opinion. There are times, however, when we encounter life-altering events that have the capability to hold our attention for a lifetime. But if we do not keep the memory alive, practice what we have learned, or strive to maintain an intense level of focus – it will not take long for our passion to fade.
The expression “Lest we forget” is commonly used in war remembrance services and commemorative occasions. It was first created in an 1897 Christian poem written by Rudyard Kipling called “Recessional”. The phrase occurs eight times and is repeated at the end of the first four stanzas in order to add particular emphasis regarding the dangers of failing to remember. As Moses spoke to the nation of Israel before they entered the Promised Land, he said: “But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9). He went on to remind them that there had been a time when he had to issue a reprimand. On that occasion, he descended after forty days from Mount Sanai where God had provided the Ten Commandments: “There below me I could see that you had sinned against the LORD your God. You had melted gold and made a calf idol for yourselves. How quickly you had turned away from the path the LORD had commanded you to follow” (Deuteronomy 9:16).
We are a fickle lot when it comes to our following of religious practices. There is no better example than the event the church commonly refers to as Palm Sunday. As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem during the annual Passover – a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Him royal treatment. Hundreds of people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9). But even as the multitudes waved the palm branches and shouted for joy, they missed the true reason for Jesus’ presence. They could neither see nor comprehend the salvation gift He would provide through His sacrificial death on a cross in just a few days. The masses quickly turned on Him when he did not lead a revolt against Rome. In fact, one must wonder how many who were in the crowds shouting “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday would be crying out “Crucify Him!” later that week (Matthew 27:22-23). Palm Sunday was the beginning of the end of Jesus’ work on earth, the final seven days of His earthly ministry known to us as Passion Week. This day has grown to become a significant event to Christians throughout history.
When the crowds in Jerusalem used the word Hosanna, it served as an expression of joy and praise for deliverance granted or anticipated. We have the advantage of knowing and understanding what those who shouted that greeting during Jesus’ triumphal entry did not. As Paul so aptly later wrote, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). Slaves, hopefully not, but at times we certainly do regress – don’t we? On the other side of a life-altering crisis – we often fail to learn from its lessons, thereby becoming our old selves again. By moving closer to Jesus during and after the experience, these events can become life-affirming. When that happens – no one would dare look at us and say, “How easily they forget!”
REFLECTION: Consider a time when you offered a great deal of yourself to another, and then it appeared that they no longer remembered. How did you this make you feel? If you were to see yourself through the eyes of Jesus – what kind of life-altering event would affirm your relationship with Him? Are there ways you might consider using the events of Holy Week to create a lasting impression for others?