Summary: This is a look at what various people gave at the Triumphant Entry and how that mirrors people’s giving in the local church.
A Palm or a Cloak April 05/09
Electricity filled the air as the people of Jerusalem pushed against one another to see the man that everyone was talking about. Some said he was a god and others said he was a demon. Some claimed he performed miracles while others proclaimed him a fraud a charlatan or worse. For better or for worse everyone had an opinion, even if they didn’t agree.
We are all familiar with the scene, the account from John’s Gospel was read for us earlier. Sometimes we talk about Palm Sunday, in the Bible it’s often referred to as “The Triumphant Entry” But it was the beginning of the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In one short week Jesus would be dead and the crowds would be silent.
So you probably know the story but let’s look at the high points. In Chapter 11 of John you may remember that Jesus had been called to the town of Bethany where his good friend Lazarus was sick, before Jesus was able to get there Lazarus had died and so Jesus raised him from the dead. Jesus became the talk of the town and the news eventually spread to Jerusalem where the Jewish High Priest, a man named Caiaphas heard the news. Now you might think that the High Priest would be excited to hear that Jesus, the one who claimed to be the Son of God and the Messiah had the power to give life to the dead. You know if Caiaphas had been wondering if Jesus was truly who he claimed to be than this might be the assurance he needed. Help him decide which horse to back, so to speak. But that was not the case.
John 11:47-48 Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” Kind of interesting where their priorities were isn’t it? There are churches and people in churches that still feel that way today, they are more interested in protecting their traditions than in reaching people. But that is a topic for another time.
And so the story continues: John 11:53-54 So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. Jesus had become a wanted man, perhaps it was a reward that had been placed on his head that Judas collected, it was at that point that Jesus must have decided that discretion was the better part of valour and went to Ephraim, a small town outside of Jerusalem.
There was a plan, a time and a place for the events to happen and while Jerusalem was the place this obvious wasn’t the time yet. Perhaps this was a time for Christ to reflect on what was going to happen and to prepare himself emotionally and spiritually for what would happen in the days ahead.
Or maybe it was simply a matter of a better time. The spiritual impact of Christ’s sacrifice happening at Passover would have been exponential over just two weeks previous. We don’t know. As a matter of fact we don’t know anything about the time he spent in Ephraim and it really is incidental to the story other than a stopping point, because we read in John 12:1 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. So if we pull up our trusty map here is Jerusalem and here is Ephraim and here is Bethany, and it was at the home of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha that Jesus crashed for the night. John 12:12 The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city.