Isaiah 43:1 But now, this is what the Lord says—    he who created you, Jacob,   he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;  I have called you by name, you are mine.”

This Sunday we will celebrate what is known as Palm Sunday. It is the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, declared as the King of Kings. There was a parade and celebration, and in Matthew 21:9 we learn that, “the crowds 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!””   That must have been quite the celebration.

We have all had those “mountain top experiences”, where we feel on top of the world, celebrated and filled with joy. But, we know Jesus’ story doesn’t end that way. In a matter of days the crowds left and Jesus would face his final day alone, abandoned by all who once cheered him onward. And we, too, have felt the fall from the mountain top to lonely canyons far below.

What I love about the Holy Week story is how in the face of what had to have been terrifying, Jesus did not act with fear. Even in His final moments he showed us how to face fear:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”Luke 23:34″Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”Luke 23:43Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.”Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother.”John 19:26-27

These are the first three statements spoken from the cross. First, Jesus is asking God to forgive those who are persecuting Him. He is laying a defense on our behalf. Secondly, He speaks with absolute confidence in His destination; He will be in paradise on this day. There is no doubt for Jesus where He is headed! Then, He takes time to reach out to His mother and disciples to help them see that they have each other for comfort and support.

Jesus walked into His final moments assured in the knowledge He had been redeemed, called by name, and belonged to God. He didn’t allow fear to keep Him from His mission of loving God’s people and caring for those in need.   God sent Jesus to change the world. God created you and me to change the world! We can not let fear rob us of our courage to be more like Jesus. We must face down fear that keeps us from being part of God’s amazing plan.

I invite you to join me in reading “Known, Named, and Unafraid” from Walter Brueggemann’s book, A Way Other Than Our Own. I also invite you to join us this Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ triumphant ride into Jerusalem and learn more about how we can be unafraid like Jesus, ready to change the world!   -Tracy