I can still see him. He was about six or seven years old. He stood in the parking lot in front of the church. He was looking up at the steeple. I looked up with him, wondering what was so fascinating. After a few moments he looked at me and asked, “What kind of a building is this?” I was not sure how to respond. So I asked him what he meant. He wanted to know what kind of building had such a funny top!
Now I did not think the steeple was all that funny but I learned he had never seen a steeple. He had never seen a church. He asked to go inside – and since there were others inside, I took him and showed him around, answering his questions as best I could. It was hard to explain the inside of a church to someone who had never seen one.
At first I thought he was kidding but then I learned that he had never seen a church. He had lived his first six or seven years in northern Maine on a remote homestead. They had seldom traveled more than a few miles from their home and everything was new to him as they moved from homestead to town. Even school was a challenge! There were other children his age he had to interact with.
I thought of him as I read this passage about Jesus. It is just after his entry into Jerusalem – his triumphal entry. The crowds have shouted praises to him,
some have cut down branches and others have taken off their cloaks and used them to line his pathway—a royal carpet. His entry caused a stir. People were wondering, “Who is this?” Who is this one who causes such devotion and adoration? Who is this one who stirs the hearts of men and women so?|
Even those who are there are not so sure. If you read further you would note their response: “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (Matthew 21:11 NIV). They are not sure who he is. He sometimes sounds like a prophet. But he doesn't always act like one. He eats with sinners. He enjoys life. He eats with Pharisees. He smiles at the faces of little children. He has sought to enter into their lives. He laughs at their jokes. And now he comes into their city, Jerusalem. His words touch some hearts and anger others. Not all are there to praise him. They, too, want to know who this is. Is he a threat to them?
In our Lenten services this Lent we will ask the same question: Who is this? How has he touched our lives? How do we respond when they ask us, “Who is this man?” Join us beginning on February 17 to explore possible answers.