“Who Is This Guy?”
Today is Palm Sunday. It nearly slipped by in the busyness of the day. It started out with reading about Jesus, riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, eons ago.
“The crowd went wild!”
A somewhat common expression. I wonder if the crowd would go wild today if Jesus rode a motorcycle into a sports stadium.
Would they shout and cheer, toss confetti and let balloons rise into the sky?
Or would they ask, “Who is this guy?”
I am curious about how the rest of that day in Jerusalem played out. After the dancing, the pomp and circumstance of hailing Jesus with palm leaves and coats covering puddles. When He reached the gates, what happened next?
Maybe the people, thinking their curiosity was satisfied for the day, went home, cooked their evening meals and chatted about the excitement of today’s parade.
“That was pretty exciting today! What do you think He will do tomorrow?”
“I can’t wait to see if He debates the Pharisees. I sure would like to know how He answers them.”
“Maybe He will ask them questions they can’t answer! That would be something!”
Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus went into the temple, looked around, but it was late, and He went with His disciples back out to Bethany for the night. They did not know righteous anger burned within Him and He would clean out the money changers from the temple the next day.
What made Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem that day a triumph? Was it because He had raised a dead man back to life again?
“You heard that He raised Lazarus, in Bethany, from the dead?”
“I wouldn’t have believed it unless I had seen it. His sisters and the mourners everywhere. And Lazarus had been dead four days!”
“Yeah, he was stinking by then, that’s for sure. Do you suppose he’ll die again someday?”
“Of course, he will. Everyone will.”
“Yeah, but who else got to come alive again after dying? Huh? Tell me that.”
Or perhaps the excited crowd followed Him because Jesus had healed many and there were many more still sick and maimed. What would He do for them?
“When Jesus comes into the temple tomorrow, be sure to shove Elias in front of Him. His hand was withered at birth and useless. I want to see Jesus heal him.”
“We have to be sure to get to the front of the crowd. I don’t want to miss a thing.”
If this was Messiah, then riding a donkey into Jerusalem in a parade just might be the spark to save the population from Roman tyranny. At the time, they could only see and sense so far. And expectation had built up for generations.
“Do you think He can thrash all those Romans with one blow—like the guy did with the flies?”
What He Did
I speculate that we have the same questions today. What made Jesus’ entry into the City of Peace a triumph? I’m not so sure that is an easy question to answer.
When Jesus arrived in the temple the day after His arrival to the city, He cleaned out the money changers—those who exploited the sacrifices to His Father and gouged the people. Sacrifices were mandated, and the people had to scrabble to afford them.
“My house is a house of prayer! You have made it a den of thieves!”
Imagine the wide eyes as Jesus taught as no one else did.
He continued to heal the sick and the lame. Some did get a ringside seat. But it wasn’t always comfortable.
He confronted the Pharisees—the teachers of the law. Those who made laws they could not keep themselves. And yet the common people were cowed under this law.
Palm Sunday – Together at the Throne
Looking back at history, not a whole lot has changed. Governments and tyrants still oppress their citizens. They still make unreasonable demands.
But now, because Jesus entered Jerusalem with imminent victory, we are free. He entered into a week in which He would die and rise again to bring redemption to us.
He came for all persons of all time. He came at the center of time. He came to unite people in an eternal community in one spirit of freedom from all sin and bondage. He came to make a path to bring us home to worship our God in faith and amazement in heaven forever.
Together at the throne.
How could the people of that day know this?
How could a people in a stadium, know it now?