As I prepared myself for this Sunday’s worship time I began to think back on the years my family lived in New Jersey. We lived in a very small town called Fair Haven. It is only about 1.7 miles square and a very short distance from the shore. It has a small town atmosphere where neighbors know each other, watch after each other’s children, have cook outs with neighbors, and make the new folks in the neighborhood feel welcome and at ease. It is such an intimate community that they didn’t even have school buses – the children walked to school and came home for lunch hour. One of the other things that I remember of our time living there is that no one had any pretense about who they were or what they did for a living. The bank president lived next door to the mechanic. The postman went to church with the pizzeria owner. The famous television personalities shopped in the same grocery store and ate at the same family restaurant as everyone else in town.
Anyway, I can remember one particular weekday afternoon I walked to Acme – the local grocery store, with my youngest son riding in the red wagon. When we got there I parked the wagon alongside the doorway, got a grocery cart and went in to pick up the few things I needed. As I wheeled around the store I started noticing people glancing at a particular man and kinda whispering to each other. This was strange behavior for this community so I began trying to figure out what in the world was going on – I mean, what was different about this man?
I wonder if that is what the people in Jerusalem thought about Jesus as he entered the city with waving palm fronds and the cloaks of his followers being thrown on the ground. What in the world was going on? What is the fuss about this man? The people in Jerusalem were singing Hosannas to Jesus and thought they had their man. They welcomed Jesus like a rising military or political figure, and offered him their adoration. But when people were asked who Jesus was, they missed the mark. “He is a prophet from Nazareth,” they said.
I can’t help but wonder how many of the people I will meet this week, or next week, or next month, will wonder the same thing – what is so special about a man named Jesus who lived and died more than 2000 years ago. And I also wonder, what will I tell the people I meet?