If you are like me, you are ready for an opportunity to celebrate the end of COVID-19 with a mask-burning party! Or maybe you’re ready to celebrate the start of baseball season, planting flowers, golfing, or just enjoying the warmth of the sun.
We all have reasons to celebrate life, but sometimes celebrating can get a little crazy. Have you heard of the La Tomatina Festival? It originated from an unfortunate event in Spain in 1945. While attending a parade in the town of La Tomatina, a participant became angry, and in a fit of rage, turned over a vegetable cart. With vegetables everywhere, the crowd started throwing them at the participant and at each other. This vegetarian food fight caught on and now it takes place yearly with tomatoes. It’s amazing what people will celebrate and how much of a mess can occur in one hour.
In Luke 19:28-40, we read about Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first day of Passion Week, but we will not find any tomatoes being thrown in celebration. This event opens with Jesus planning his own entrance: “he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here’” (Luke 19:29, 30, ESV). Jesus gave his disciples detailed directions on how to obtain his mode of transportation. It’s amazing that this entrance was prophesied some 500 years earlier in Zechariah 9:9.
Get the Supplies
I don’t mind assisting with party preparations, but I need detailed instructions on what to do—and that’s exactly what transpired for the disciples in Luke 19:31-34: “If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ And they said, ‘The Lord has need of it’” (ESV).
Because Christ is omniscient, he provided the exact play-by-play for the disciples. Throughout the Bible we are provided such great direction as to how we should live a celebrated life.
Go All Out—Jesus’ Style
In that era, kings would enter the cities with victorious celebration and extravagant festivities. Not so for God’s Son, as he broke the mold and did not align with worldly norms. His actions flew in the face of human pride.
“And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:35-38, ESV).
As Jesus smiled at the throng of people, no doubt he was thinking about his Father’s plan and what was still to play out in the coming days. Normally, Christ discouraged public recognition, but this time was different. He welcomed the public praise and worship because it was time. Jesus knew that he was a wanted man (see John 11:57). He knew this humble, triumphal entry plus his horrific death on the cross would ultimately lead to his resurrection, resulting in an opportunity for all people to spend eternity with him.
Worldly Vs. Heavenly Celebrations
Have you ever thought about the differences between worldly celebrations and heavenly celebrations? As followers of Christ, we should be celebrating our Father God’s glory, forgiveness, mercies, blessings, and his sacrifice. So often in our world today, many people are driven by this perspective: What’s in it for me? We get to choose daily how we want to celebrate life: Whether we want to celebrate selfishly or selflessly—after the example of Jesus.
I love the conclusion of this narrative in Luke 19, where Christ reminds the Pharisees in vv. 39, 40 that his creation will cry out despite their demand for the disciples to be silent. “And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’” (ESV).
Throughout Scripture, we are reminded of God’s handiwork and how it always points us back to the Creator who deserves to be celebrated.
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy” (Psalm 96:11, 12, ESV).
“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! . . . Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:7-10, 13, ESV).
Time to Be Bold
God’s creation is constantly singing songs of celebration to him. But Satan desires that followers of Christ be silent. We need to follow the example of the “stones” in nature and boldly share how Christ has molded and transformed us. Think about how we could become the full-fledged vessels that we were created to be if we would allow God’s Word to transform us from the inside out. In our celebration, we must be vigilant as Satan knows Scripture (see Matthew 4:1-11), misusing and abusing it to his benefit. Satan, and his followers, will never yield a transformed life as they desire to crush the hope in those that do.
As believers, we know the need to always be ready to give an account for our joy and celebration (1 Peter 3:15). In doing this, we glorify God by planting seeds and by watering those previously planted. In our current culture, our world is in grave need of a revival. This is not a time to be passive, but a time to be bold and outspoken in our praise of our Lord. Jesus reminds us to be in the world but not of it (John 15:19). Because of this, we will experience hate, discomfort, and possibly persecution. Reflecting on Christ’s humble entrance into Jerusalem, over 2000 years ago, we should be driven to walk humbly with our God. May it never be about getting what we want. Rather, let’s commit to celebrate Christ daily, contemplating what we need to sacrifice in order to follow his example of humble selflessness. That’s the kind of celebration that pleases our Father God the most.
Gary Herbert and his family have called Christ’s Church home for nineteen years. He is currently an elder, community group leader, and is involved with the First Impressions ministry. Gary is employed by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as the Senior Patient Advocate.