The Triumphal Entry…
I debated what to name tonight’s post. Today is the beginning of Holy Week, the last week of the life of Jesus before the Last Supper, crucifixion and resurrection that we celebrate on Easter. And today, as almost every Christian in world knows, is Palm Sunday. So there are lots of good titles that I could have used, but today is a day of celebration and so I decided to go with writing about the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
Palm Sunday was one of my favorite days in church as a kid. The songs were uplifting, everybody was a little more dressed up than on a regular Sunday and there were more people in church. I think that had to do with some of those folks who only came on Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday and Easter! But it was good to see those people who weren’t necessarily regular attenders. However, the best part of the day was when we, the youth of the church, received palm branches and marched in a processional down the center aisle of the sanctuary, waving our new prized possessions as the choir sang. I still remember my parents turning around to try and catch a glimpse of me as se entered the sanctuary for the long walk to the front.
I always took my palm branch home and kept it in my room until Easter was over. By then, it was starting to dry out and it eventually ended up in the garbage. Imagine my surprise when I learned later in life that palm ranches are burned, the ashes saved, and used the following year in Ash Wednesday services marking the beginning of Lent!
The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem started with a mission to secure a donkey and a colt from the city. Upon returning, the disciples threw their cloaks on both animals, presumably because they didn’t know which animal Jesus would choose to ride. Jesus entered the city on the donkey and people spread their cloaks and branches on the path in front of Him. Little did anyone realize what the following week would bring. People where lining the path and shouting “Hosanna” as Jesus rode past.
Hosanna is originally from the Hebrew and it is a shout of praise or adoration. It is most commonly used in reference to the response of the crowd when they saw Jesus coming into the city. It is also a derivative from the Aramaic and means “savior” or one who saves, has saved, will save or is saving now; and includes a special type of respect reserved for those situations.
Of course, as we get later in the week, the tone of things changes until the celebration of Easter morning when the tomb was empty. And it is important to remember that what separates Christianity from many of the world’s religions is the fact that we worship a living God, not a god who is dead. It really wasn’t the death of Jesus that made Him special. After all, many leaders of religions around the world have died…. but only Jesus has come back to life and is, for sure, alive today! We serve a living God!
Our verse for tonight highlights the entry in Jerusalem. All four Gospel writers weigh in on their own perspective of the events of that day. Matthew, the Jewish tax collector, gives us a little more detail on what happened. He tells us, in Matthew 21:6-9, “The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!”
My encouragement this evening is that we are entering the most holy week in the Christian calendar. It is a time of reflection, solitude, contemplation and stillness as we remember the sacrifice that God the Father and Jesus the Son are about to make later this week. My prayer is that we will all let the world slow down a little and think about the blessings that we have received as a result of the decision of our heavenly Father to sacrifice His Son for the forgiveness of the sins of all mankind. It is through this supreme act of love that we are now able to spend eternity with Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…