Look today at one of the great events in the life of Christ. One author has compared this event to a parade. Fascinating, special, told in all four gospels, various details. This is a special, even bizarre incident in Christ's life. That it is in all four gospels may indicate its significance. It is important. It is an event neglected, seldom preached, seldom talked about. What do you know about it--palm leaves, Palm Sunday. But have you studied its context, order, lessons. What can we learn, how can we apply this lesson?
The New Testament describes the normal processes of the victor's parade (2 Cor. 2:11-14; Col. 2:15). Ephesians 4 quotes Psalm 68. The reference is to the victor's parade. Palm Sunday -- this is a parade for Jesus.
Being in the marching band in high school had its perks -- and one big drawback in the mind of a high school student. We had to dress up after school was out and march in the Memorial Day parade. Our culture has little appreciation for simple parades. We seek glitz, glamour, glory.
We all need parades in our lives. Reinforcement, love notes, appreciation, praise. Write a note -- and then it comes at the most opportune time, when we get down, we need to be lifted up, we need someone to notice, we need a parade. Jesus had never had a parade before, nor even a testimonial dinner, no Nobel Peace Prize. He is now near the agony of death, time to die, the hour is nigh -- he needs lifting up.
I have some misgivings about the way we humans go about honoring others at times -- why do we honor others, are we self-serving, are we genuine, who gets the parades, praise, honorary degrees. But I do appreciate the need for honoring others. We need understanding, we need appreciation. We need examples we can emulate. Jesus deserved all he was getting. If anyone deserves respect and honor, Jesus does.
This event in Jesus' life is uncharacteristic. Jesus had ministered in the shadows, not in the limelight, out of the spotlight. He told people to be quiet about healings, he didn't want honor. Don't call me good. He rejected efforts of people to make him a king. So this is a switch.
This parade, the triumphal entry was planned and deliberate. Was on Sunday -- only time Jesus rode, so far as the Bible says. He usually walked. This event is fulfillment of prophecy. He had a mob with him, he met a mob. We have talked about the fickleness of the crowd -- with him on Sunday, crucifying him a few days later. Study the text more carefully. It is not so. There were two different crowds. John points out two groups -- first at Lazarus' resurrection, then a second group who opposed him.
Jesus comes riding on a donkey -- not a horse. Zech. 9:9, we have prophecy, to come riding on a donkey. Since Solomon, kings rode on horses, not donkeys. Jesus as hero of the parade went out to meet the subjects, not vice versa. Here everything is the opposite of what we could consider normal. The average man could not afford a donkey, a donkey was of great worth in that day, so they commandeered a donkey. John mentions that they threw down palm leaves, others mention branches -- regardless, Jesus accepted this honor and praise.
It is not easy to accept praise and compliments. We do not know how to do it. We do not appreciate that God is honored when his disciples are honored. We are afraid to honor others, we are afraid of applause. We have not read Gal. 1:24. We are afraid of honor. Why can we not be gracious, caring, appreciative? These wanted to cheer Jesus and he accepted their cheers. When the Pharisees objected, Jesus said the stones would cry out if the crowds were silenced (Luke's account). This passage says it is alright to have a parade, to honor one another, to praise, support, appreciate.
We need lifting when we are down. These esteemed Christ for who he was what he had done.
Time for Thinking
This parade was for Jesus. This parade was for a cause. This parade was for others.
This parade was for Jerusalem. Jesus was in Jerusalem. Jesus was weeping for unrepentant Jerusalem. Imposing, bustling in that day, on the mountain top, Moriah. Mount of Olives, Jerusalem is quite a city, even without any religious trappings. But now Jesus is on the mountain, looking back over 15-20 centuries that God's people have valued this holy city, Jerusalem. This parade is one last chance for Jerusalem. Some today need to repent and obey. This may be your last chance. Today and next Sunday are two biggies in church attendance. But not everyone who will come to church on one of these two Sundays is in right relationship with God. The Easter crowd is sometimes called the holly/lily crowd (holly for Christmas, lilies at Easter). But today you are thinking about Jesus. This is an opportunity, this is a decision time, the gospel is heard, preaching, ears are deaf, we must think and learn the lesson.
If you find it hard to listen and hear, will you look at Jesus as he comes with horns blasting? Read Zech. 9:9 again. This is the glory, majesty, splendor of Jesus. Can you see it? The king is coming. Living his life, teaching his lessons, making a final appeal to Jerusalem. That is still true today -- just as Jerusalem had come to a point of no return, so we can approach that point. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. This is the lesson -- will you accept him or crucify him afresh?
The parade was for his followers -- Hosanna. Do you know this phrase? Save me now. When these cried out, they were saying, save us now. The king is here now, not next week or next year, but now. Commit, obey, believe now. John mentions what the parade did for the disciples -- John 12:16. They conceived that Jesus was the Christ with certainty. Did this bring Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus to the reality of Christ? This parade made an impact, John 12:19. Everyone is going after Christ.
Parades are not only for the heroes, but also for the spectators. I like parades. Excitement, honor to people worthy of honor.
Can you see the bittersweet of life? Retirement dinners, honor, nice words, presents, loving your parade, then you remember that you are making your last splash before you go out. Euphoria is not real life. This event occurs on a Sunday -- but when Friday comes, Jesus will be on the cross. In the excitement of the parade, hear the bittersweet prophecy of pain and death. Look beyond this event. See beyond the band, the parade, the excitement. Otherwise, you will miss the point.
In this parade we can focus on nobility, honor, priority, eternity, and see things that transcend the euphoria of the parade. That is what we must see in Jesus.
A popular song of a few years ago declared, "The king is coming." I wish we knew, I wish we knew it better in our fellowship. If you know anything today about Jesus, if you love Jesus, he will make you weep, cry, you can hear the trumpet, you can hear the shout. The king is coming. The triumphant entry. Tells the whole world, regardless of what happens, this is the entry of the king. This is the victor with his spoils. This is the victor, the celebrant. This is the reality.
He is gone, he is not among us physically, but there will be another parade. He is coming again. The king is coming, still coming. Lord, save us. He is coming back a final time to claim his own. The king has come, he had his earthly parade. He is coming back for the heavenly parade, and inviting us to join him.
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