Redeemer Family, Today is the beginning of holy week. As we progress from Christ's entry into Jerusalem, and move toward his death and resurrection, our pastors and leaders will be taking time to reflect each day on Christ - who He is and what He did for us. Follow along with us each day. - The Redeemer Elders
Day 1: Palm Sunday from Lawson Flowers
Matthew 21:1-11 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: 5 Tell Daughter Zion, “See, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their clothes on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of him and those who followed shouted: 'Hosanna' to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 'Hosanna' in the highest heaven!
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this? ” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.
On Palm Sunday we look back at Jesus riding into Jerusalem, to what is traditionally called "The Triumphal Entry." This was a joyful event, and one laden with layers of significance, that kicked off the week of Jesus' passion.
In one sense, this is a moment of triumph. "A very large crowd" is hailing Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of David (vs 8). They are shouting "Hosanna!" which means, "Save us!" (vs 9). Jesus is in fact the King, and as the prophecy foretold he was riding into Zion on a colt. He was, in fact, the one who could save them. If a large crowd gathered around our church building and started yelling for Jesus to save them, that would be incredible.
But all was not as it seemed. In Luke's account, it says, "As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, saying, 'If you knew this day what would bring peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes... you did not recognize the time when God visited you.'" -- Luke 19:41-44
Despite their enthusiastic welcome, the people of Jerusalem somehow missed it. We know that only days later those now yelling, "Hosanna!" would be yelling, "Crucify him!" How did they miss it? Why weren't things as good as they seemed?
In John's account, we learn an important detail. Jesus had raised his friend Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, which was just outside of Jerusalem. That event certainly made the Jerusalem nightly news. And so as the crowds met Jesus with messianic hopes, they had also the fervor of intrigue — this is the man they had heard raised the dead (John 12:18). Often in Jesus' ministry, and not to their credit, the crowds sought the sign more than Jesus himself, the gift more than the giver.
But perhaps most of all, the crowds missed it because they expected a political overthrow of the oppressive Roman empire. Jesus warned his disciples over and over that his messiahship was not what everyone expected — the Son of Man must be handed over, suffer, be killed, and then rise from the dead (Matt 16:21). But they could not understand beforehand, and who can blame them? How could their messiah being executed at the hands of their oppressors ever make sense to them? But now, we look back at the cross and can see that the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength (1 Cor 1:25).
This account leaves Christians with what might be an uncomfortable question. Could we be in a similar situation to the crowds on the original Palm Sunday?
Where are we welcoming Jesus as a political or cultural savior, but not as the suffering servant who calls us to repent of our sins, to die to self, and to suffer for His sake? Where have we defined for Jesus what a savior should do (and what a "good Christian life" might entail), rather than giving ourselves over to Him and His agenda? Is there a chance Jesus could look at a full church service, weep, and say, "you did not recognize the time when God visited you?"
What should we do? As Psalm 95 says, "Today, if you hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts."
Church, may we seek God not as a means to any end — political, social, institutional, personal, or familial. May we instead give ourselves without reserve to our real Savior, trusting his wisdom and his love. Because, when we are asked who Jesus is, we don't answer like the crowds, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee." Someone decidedly more than a prophet is here, and so we answer with the apostle John, "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).