The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!’ (John 12:12-13)
Some of the most powerful teaching Jesus did was not in words but in deeds. One of his most compelling and dynamic teachings is to be found in his entrance into Jerusalem on what we have come to refer to as Palm Sunday or “The Triumphant Entry.” In most ways there was nothing triumphant about it at all. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, a symbol of humility and submission. While he did this, Herod and his mighty army were riding into Jerusalem from the other side of the city. Herod’s troops were there to keep peace during the celebration of Passover.
Though there is no way for us to know for certain, my hunch is that those of us in the crowd who were waving palm branches and shouting “Hosannas,” had hopes that Jesus would unseat the political powers that be. The “rule of God” that Jesus taught was not like that - then or now. God’s Kingdom comes in a form we don’t particularly want, shows up where we least expect and is not under our control. When we think that things are going to go our way, our enthusiasms are high. As this Holy Week progresses, however, we begin to see that what is required of him and of us is a death that, this side of Easter, will cause us to drop our palm branches, close our mouths and abandon him.
Holy, Just and Inclusive God, open our hearts and minds and empower us to find ourselves in this story and to experience how closely connected our religious and spiritual enthusiasm is tied to our “being in control” and “having our way.” May we follow him who prayed, “Thy will be done.”
Bill Kerley - Teacher. Jokester. Magician.