Two Kinds of Worship

Matthew 21:1-11 and 26:6-13

Two kinds of worship. 

The first is a party, like a parade on the best day. It is crowd-surging, branch-waving, song-singing happiness. It rushes like a sparkling river, buoying the King along on its cheers and proclamations. Here He comes! It carries everyone right into the center of things. 

The second is a sacrifice, like a thing purchased after long deliberation. It is self-giving, foot-washing, tear-flowing joy. It exposes the giver to the severest criticism, going against status quo and revealing one’s shame. Here I am, it says. It pours itself out in an unrelenting yielding.

The first is thrilling. Built on spectacle and prospects of miracles, it is full of expectation. It finds full pleasure in joining the noisy crowd, being part of the thing that is happening, following along to see what comes. 

The second is still. Built on grace and the knowledge of redemption, it waits. Kneeling, it reaches grateful hands to clasp the feet of the one who saves. It offers its most precious possession, knowing it as the most meager gift. It simply longs to be in the presence of this beloved, no matter what others say, no matter how it looks. 

The King comes riding among us because that was His plan from the beginning. He accepts the first form of worship, but He longs for the second. This is not from pride but from the knowledge that the first will follow all the way to the cross and then, not understanding, will slip away, disillusioned and disappointed. The second will follow still further to the tomb, where it will linger in faithful lament through all the dark days until resurrection comes. 

The first kind of worship comes from watching. It sees something good and longs for more of it. It is full of hunger. The second comes from knowing. It feels itself beloved and needs nothing else. It is full already and wants only to remain.

May we be the palm wavers and hallelujah singers who welcome Him. But when the time comes, may we also be the ones who kneel at His feet in front of all the skeptics and break our alabaster flasks. May we who have received everything give everything in return—all the way to resurrection.

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