The weather has been about as unpredictable as the stock market these days. But hey it’s February/March we should be accustomed to some volatility. I well remember several Marches ago the weathercasters told us the big one was coming–Twelve to Twenty inches worth moving our way—unusual for a March. So people trudged off to the grocery store—they stored their bread, eggs, milk and other survival snacks. We prepared to hibernate: schools cancelled; snow blowers were dusted off; shovels were retrieved from the shed. I even stayed up late and watch a movie the night before. After all, the world was shutting down by morning–surely it would be a day off.
What happened? Almost none of what was predicted. Almost no snow. Very little shoveling. And for many, no time off work. In that sense it was a false hope. The Philly weathercasting celebrity, John Bolaris said he receive more irate mail, including threats, than at any time in his weather career. False Reports disappoint people.
I have numerous memories of being disappointed by False Springs! Stiff from a long winter of cold, snow, ice and rain. Worn out from struggling with winter coats, scarfs, and gloves; bored with cabin fever, shut up like a chicken in a coop; looking in the garage at my motorcycle, aching to pull the throttle round a turn and feel the warm breeze in my face, ready to take that lawn mower for a walk through some lush green grass. Longing to go out on the deck at night… Just wanting to say welcome Spring. Hallelujah You Have Arrived. What took you so long? We yearn for it! We long to see the birth of flowers and leaves forming and the burst of outdoor activity.
We got the groundhog report from Punxsatony Pennsylvania. Since its shadow has escaped detection we believe spring will come early. And there are some warm days. “Unseasonably warm,” we are told. Buds on trees begin to swell, birds are heard singing early in the morning. Time to clean off the golf clubs–time to wash and wax the car. On a Saturday morning, I have reserved my first Spring outing. I go to bed early, so I can get up rested, to enjoy a whole day’s worth. The alarm sounds, looking out, what do I see? An unwelcomed guest interrupting my party, a dusting of white snow and ice clinging to trees. And the old timers say: “We told you. We have lived too long to be surprised by an early Spring!” Grudgingly, we pull the winter coat from the closet–the pall of winter settles down again. THE FALSE SPRING HAS DONE ITS WORK! I don’t know about you…but I really don’t like False Springs…I love perpetual Indian Summers in the midst of winter.
On a promising day in spring, Jesus made His way to Jerusalem. A recent event had encouraged His followers to believe the springtime of the Kingdom was budding. One who marched among them — at a respectable distance — was Lazarus, recently raised from the dead by Jesus. Along the path, crowds shouted praise because of Lazarus’ deliverance from the tomb. He was evidence of Jesus’ power even over death! “Hosanna!,” they sang, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.” The people’s song stunned Jerusalem’s officials who will soon seek to put Jesus to death…and would love to snuff out Lazarus as well.
Because of what happened we have named that day “Palm Sunday.” We call it a “Triumphal Entry.” As parades go, it is no match for a Fourth of July or Mummers day parades. It wouldn’t compare to most modern extravaganza. But for those who marched into the city, then, it was a breath of spring. It was a time to celebrate deliverance. Deliverance from Roman oppression and the restoration of the Jewish state would come, they thought. They embraced an earthbound version of Messiah.
Israel’s winter wait seemed over. The night-time had passed. Political deliverance was around the corner. Messiah had come! Deliverance from Rome seemed in sight. Israel had been powerful and respected. Such glory had long departed, and its renewal was long overdue. Enough of cold, oppressive winter—bring on the warm hope of Spring. Surely Jesus was the Spring Time Hope…but they had false hopes and false expectations. For them is was a FALSE SPRING.
We can all relate at some level—for surely each of us has had our False Hopes—our times of disappointment. But before discouragement sets it course, we must be reminded that a False Spring can be a taste of things to come. Though winter has not had its last hurrah, spring will come again! So take heart! The dancing and festive celebration of “Palm Sunday” is a symbol of the great things to come, of resurrection.
The False Spring reminds us we cannot move from Palm Sunday to Easter without passing through the Last Supper, Gethsemane, Golgotha, and through the Tomb. Though winter has not had its last hurrah, spring will come again! So take heart! The dancing and festive celebration of “Palm Sunday” is a symbol of the great things to come, of RESURECTION GLORY!