When she came out on stage, I couldn’t recognize her.
Isley was part of her school production of “Madagascar Junior”, a musical representation of the DreamWorks Animation movie about a group of four zoo animals that escape captivity and end up in Madagascar.
For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, the four penguins–Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private–steal the show.
Isley was Kowalski. A penguin with panache, humor, and crazy dance moves, she lit up the stage.
Isley is a lot like her character–warm, funny, caring well for others. She, however, doesn’t stand back to see if someone else will take the initiative. Kowalski was second in command; Isley is fully out there, not waiting for someone else’s resourcefulness or willingness to make a move to help another.
If someone were to watch this production and believe they knew Isley from how she performed, they’d be partially correct–her fun-loving, gracious way of dealing with people.
What they’d miss would be her more contemplative side, her fascination with learning new things, and her deep heart of compassion.
We miss one another in so many ways, thinking that what we see in a moment is all that person is. We ignore the bigger picture of investing time to get to really know someone.
That’s the challenge–to choose to ask the questions and to admit that we don’t know it all and are willing to listen to others in an open way.
Jesus experienced the same kind of closed attitudes in His day.
Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, where Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. He chose this mode of transportation because kings coming in peace would ride on a donkey instead of a horse to show their heart of goodwill. He was connected to the common people, a King for all, not just for a favored few.
The response of the people showed their perception of His identity and purpose.
“Running ahead and following after (Jesus), they were calling out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in God’s name! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Mark 11:9-10
The people believed Jesus had come to save them from Roman rule, to establish Israel as a sovereign, independent nation.
That was never His purpose.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10
Jesus came to provide a way to connect us with God.
How quickly people changed their opinion. Within days, Jesus would be arrested by the religious leaders, who were jealous of His appeal to the people and because He had exposed them for the hypocrites they were. They convinced the people that His way was insubordinate against Ceasar, and He needed to die.
They didn’t understand Him at all. They made assumptions about who He was without ever really checking it out for themselves.
At a time when many are quick to jump to conclusions about what they don’t know, we hesitate to honestly engage in the conversations.
Just like Isley isn’t fully the character seen on stage, Jesus is more than a good Man.
But you have to choose to honestly pursue that understanding to discover who He is for yourself.