“Hosanna to the Son of David!” shouts the crowd as Jesus enters Jerusalem. He’s riding on a colt, just as it was prophesied centuries before the Messiah would do (Zechariah 9:9). Some lay their cloaks on the road before him; others wave tree branches as a way of showing him honor. We refer to Palm Sunday as the “triumphal entry.” But the joy of the “triumphal entry” lasted only a moment. Although the oblivious crowd seemed to be going crazy with praise and adoration, Jesus knew better…
It would be another seven days before the actual victory—the final one—the costly one—occurred. He literally had to go to Hell and back to secure it. But secure it he did. No short-cuts. No altered goal posts.
How about us? How do we define victory?
Is victory having a good church or a God church? Is it landing a book on the New York Times bestseller list or knowing one’s writing makes a difference? Is it basking in our goodness when everyone speaks well of us or doing the hard work of dying to self so that God’s goodness can be revealed through us? On a broader scale, is victory winning an election or actually governing well? Although our culture increasingly favors image over reality, the success it guarantees eventually falls short.
The rush to declare victory may promise a bypass around the challenges we face, but it can’t deliver. Before the sigh of relief leaves our mouth, the win starts to wane. The kind of victory Jesus offers is unshakeable. Complete. Lasting.
True victory occurs when we value what God values. When we look past the surface and refuse to let the opinions of others shape our concept of winners and losers. I’m sure the world viewed the early Christians as pretty big failures. They were mocked, scorned and persecuted for their faithfulness. But the fruit of their victory remains evident 2,000 years later in the heart of every believer.
So don’t be deceived. Consider whether your wins are consistent with God’s wins. If not, reject that premature victory lap, re-lace your shoes and get back into the race.