“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!” Such were the shouts of acclamation as Jesus entered Jerusalem the day we call ‘Palm Sunday.’ Starting at Bethany, on the hill overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus mounted the colt the disciples had found for Him. It was a fairly long ride from Bethany to Jerusalem—he rode down the Mount of Olives into the Kidron Valley, and then up the steep grade ascending to the Holy City of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was the city the great King David had claimed for his capitol as he finished conquering the Jebusites. David had united Israel into a great kingdom and was hailed by all as the greatest king in Israel’s history. Then, when David’s son Solomon was crowned king there was a huge celebration. It is said that Psalm 118 was written for the crowning of King Solomon. The passage from Zechariah also refers to the crowning of the King and tells the way victorious kings would enter the city following a victory in battle and as they were crowned king. It was a huge festive occasion celebrating the presence of God who had blessed them with a king.
As Jesus rode down the Mount of Olives and into Jerusalem people spread their garments on the ground in front of Him. Then they tore palm branches and placed them on the ground for this one who was hailed as king. They even waved palm branches to honor Him. It was a celebration the people of Israel had not witnessed for centuries. It was an amazing time for the people as they celebrated the long-awaited King who had come to set them free!
So they shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!” They shouted acclamations for a king who in their minds would restore Israel to the glory days of King David and free them from the Roman oppressors. Sadly for them, (but good for all of us) it was not the king Jesus turned out to be.
What are you looking for this Palm Sunday? Beyond the acclamations and the parades, what are you looking for from Jesus?
The world we live in could use a King who could bring an end to the violence and bloodshed, the turmoil, hatred, and oppression. The world we live in could use a Savior--a Savior who could heal the sick, who could bring an end to the type of behavior that took the lives of people in Colorado this past week. We could use a Savior who would bring a fast end to the pandemic and release us back into the world we knew and miss. We could use a Savior who could rally the people of the world to put an end to the terrorists whose numbers seem to be growing and whose violence and hatred knows no ending. We could use a ‘take-charge type of Savior.
What kind of a Savior do you need personally? Are you looking for someone to heal your loved one? Are you looking for help in dealing with a difficult situation? Do you need someone to listen to your heartfelt needs and aspirations and give you some direction and meaning? Or maybe you’re not sure what you need.
There was something ominous and maybe even a bit of a foreshadowing as the Triumphal Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem came to a close. Verse 11 states: “Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”
This is like that time after a big event, such as a wedding, a graduation, a birthday party, or a similarly joyous celebration. After it is all over and the people have all gone home, you’re left with that feeling of “now what?” It’s kind of a letdown, and you’re left pretty much alone with your thoughts. You relive the experience; you relive the visits with people you care deeply about. As you clean-up or drive home what are you thinking about?
This is how I picture verse 11 for Jesus. He is finished with the parade, the accolades, the excitement of the crowds, and after they’ve all cleared out Jesus heads into the Temple. The Temple was the place of God’s presence, the home on earth for God. Jesus enters, looks around at all that was there from the Passover trading and bartering, the mess that was present physically and spiritually.
But it’s late. Jesus is tired. He gathers his disciples as heads back to Bethany, presumably to stay with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The King has a lot on His mind. He has a big week ahead of Him. He knows what awaits Him as He goes about His Father’s business.
Jesus, it turns out, was not the King the people were expecting and as such, He was not what they wanted. But Jesus was just the King that theyneeded.
Jesus is the King—and the Savior that we needed as well. There are so many things in our world that defy explanation. The evil that bombards our senses and emotions and often touches the depths of our hearts goes on seemingly unchecked. The sin that follows us around and goes to the depth of our being drags us down. The quick-fix we are so used to receiving eludes us.
But today we celebrate. We rejoice in Jesus the King who has come to rule in our hearts, our lives, and our world. We rejoice and wave our palm branches knowing that today’s joy will take an awful turn this week. We give thanks for a Savior—a King—who has come, and who takes on the challenges, the sin, the evil we encounter and does what we cannot do. We celebrate knowing the difficult week that lies ahead for our Lord because we do know how the story unfolds. This is a week of remembering the One who came to give us the abundant life and who told us that He must be lifted up so that He can draw all people to himself. This is a Savior—a King—whose power and love are completely beyond our understanding. We may not understand how this all comes together yet, but we need not fear. He is more than we wanted, and yet he is all that we ever need.
And this is the One who has come for us. “Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes!”