Today is Palm Sunday – the beginning of Holy Week. That’s when Jesus sent two of His disciples to bring Him a colt to ride into the city – what we refer to as the Triumphal Entry. This is the day that we remember as children when we got to wave palm branches and enter the sanctuary to lay them on the alter. In fact, when there were extras, we actually got to take them home and I remember those days at Trinity Methodist Church on the south side of Chicago with fondness.
Most of us celebrate Palm Sunday and then jump right to Easter next Sunday. However, the truth of the matter is that many things happen this week that memorialize the last week of the life of Jesus prior to His crucifixion. It was quite a week. And most of us tend to rush through it trying to get to Easter.
There is the Upper Room Discourse and the celebration of the Last Supper. The discourse took place during the last time that the apostles ate with Jesus and He taught them to serve one another. This is the night that Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and celebrated what we have come to call communion – the bread and wine that he implored us to share in remembrance of Him.
Many churches have Maundy Thursday services to commemorate the Last Supper. And then, of course, we have Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified. We also have the story of the denial of Jesus by Peter, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and many other events that we tend to glance over as we look forward to Easter.
But Easter is the triumph of Jesus over death – once and for all. It’s not the crucifixion that separates Christianity from the other world religions. It is the resurrection. Because we serve a living God unlike so many of the other world religions.
This week, I hope that we all will take time to recall the various events that happened between the Triumphal Entry and Easter. There’s so much more to this than two Sundays a week apart.
Our verse for tonight comes from Mark’s Gospel. He gives us the story of Jesus riding into the city. We are told, in Mark 11:1-9, “As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!’” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
My encouragement this evening is that this coming week culminates in the most important event in the Christian calendar! My prayer is that we will live the full week, slowing down our lives to fully appreciate and recognize the various things that happened prior to the resurrection of Jesus. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…