PALM SUNDAY: (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-15)
It has been said that everybody loves a parade. Large crowds of people young and old flock curbside to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Rose Bowl Parade, or the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
What makes parades popular are beautiful floats, waving celebrities decked out in finery, marching bands, and giant-size balloon characters. Many say they like parades because of the fun-filled entertainment and positive atmosphere.
But is the statement “Everybody loves a parade” always true? Does everyone love any and every parade? The answer is “no.” Depending on a person’s belief system or moral values, the theme of a parade and its participants can run counter to one’s sensibilities. For example, many Christians are offended by the shameless pre-lenten Mardi Gras parades or by in-your-face parades which celebrate the immoral LGBT lifestyles. Similarly, those who do not accept Bible teachings and precepts may be affronted by parades which display a Christian theme.
How many professing Christians today rightly understand who Jesus is… ?
The “parade” (so to speak) that took place on the road to Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday was remarkable in many ways. Its focal point was just one Person, Jesus of Nazareth. He didn’t look like anyone special. Jesus wasn’t dressed in finery but in plain, ordinary clothes. He was riding on a little donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey, on which no one had sat, and it was accompanied by the colt’s mother.
Even though there was only this rather lowly looking Person to view in this “parade,” Jesus attracted a great multitude who went before and followed after Him. They gave Him a royal welcome by covering His pathway with their outer garments and palm branches, and they hailed Him by crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, John 12:13, Luke 19:38, Mark 11:10)
Why did so many join in glorifying God and acknowledging Jesus as the promised Messiah and King of Israel who had come to bless them with salvation and peace? The evangelist Luke said that they “began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works [the miracles of Jesus] they had seen” (Luke 19:37).
As for the many who had not witnessed Jesus’ mighty works, we know how the masses can be easily carried along by the stir and emotions of the moment. Even Jesus’ disciples didn’t fully understand “these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him” (John 12:16).
How many professing Christians today rightly understand who Jesus is and what He is all about? Yet there is no greater body of information than the Bible which reports the good news of the Savior and His blessed gifts of forgiveness of sins, spiritual life, and eternal salvation.
Not everyone loved this first Palm Sunday “parade” and the way Jesus was hailed by the multitude. In his Gospel Luke reports that “some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples’” (19:39). In blind unbelief the Pharisees had rejected Jesus as the promised Lord and Christ and refused to acknowledge the fact that they needed Jesus as the Savior who would take away their sins and deliver them from the punishment of eternal condemnation in hell.
And why was that? Because, like so many in our day too, they were deluded by the notion that they could make their way to heaven on their own without any help from heaven above.
We celebrate the Christian festival of Palm Sunday each year with mixed emotions. We rejoice that Jesus humbly made His way into Jerusalem so that we could be exalted on high through His redemptive work on the cross. But then we also mourn the tragic state of affairs that so many still do not possess the joy of salvation through Jesus Christ.
May God have mercy and bless more and more people with the gift of faith in the one Savior of the world, Jesus Christ! ”