Summary: What would you do if you know that: “This Friday you’re going to die”? Those very words might have crossed Jesus’ mind on this Sunday some 1,970 years ago. The day we now call Palm Sunday was the first day of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.
What would you do if you know that: “This Friday you’re going to die”?
Those very words might have crossed Jesus’ mind on this Sunday some 1,970 years ago. The day we now
call Palm Sunday was the first day of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life.
This Friday Jesus is going to die. But today – today is a day of applause. We know that…
I. THE OVATION WAS DESERVED
When Jesus approached Jerusalem the scene was intense.
He arrived at Passover time. A crowd of Jewish religious pilgrims had already flooded the city. And into
this throng rides Jesus on the back of a donkey, and with him, his own parade.
The text tells us around v. 37 that the crowd “began joyfully to praise God.” The lifted up shouts of
Hosanna! Which means, “Save!” They shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The Old Testament prophet Zechariah wrote: (Read Zechariah 9:9)
This was to be the last spontaneous display of public approval of Jesus, and it was also to be the greatest.
Why would these people applaud him at all? The text gives us some clues.
v. 37 say, they “praised God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.”
They had seen the crippled walk. They had witnessed the blind receiving sight. Even the dead were
raised. Lazarus was proof! In a word, He brought hope
I imagine a Roman soldier galloping up to check on the disturbance. He has attended processions in
Rome where they do it right. The conquering general sits in a chariot of gold, white stallions pulling at
the reigns. Behind him are officers in polished armor carrying the colorful banners of the defeated
enemies. At the rear comes a ragtag procession of slaves and prisoners in chains – living proof of what
happens when you get in Rome’s way.
In Jesus’ triumphal entry, the adoring crowd makes up the ragtag procession: the lame, the blind, the
poor and children from Galilee and Bethany. When the soldier looks for the object of their attention – he
sees a man riding on a donkey using a borrowed coat as a saddle. Not a very impressive sight, perhaps, to
a Roman. But it was the best display these people could give. The reception of a meek and peaceful king.
The applause was certainly deserved. But we are also aware that
II. THE OVATION OF THIS DAY PRECEDED BETRAYAL
There is something ambivalent about this day of excitement. If you know the rest of the story you’re
probably aware that the week goes downhill from here all the way to Friday.
The story comes to its climax, not in Jesus entering Jerusalem, but in his weeping over it. While Jesus
deserves a triumphal entry as king, Luke emphasizes that he is moving instead to the place of his
Eventually the applause ends. Quickly the mood will change. And a great truth is dramatically
reinforced. That truth being that voice of the people is a fickle voice.
Illus – W. Frank Harrington, a minister in Atlanta, tells the story of Marvin Griffin. Marvin ran for
governor of Georgia in the early sixties against Carl Sanders. His strategy was to have great gatherings
around barbequed dinners all over the state of Georgia. Sometimes over 10,000 people would show up at
just of these dinners to eat Marvin’s BBQ. But when the election was over, he had lost decisively. At a
news conference that followed he simply said, “They ate Ol’ Marvin’s barbeque, but they didn’t vote for
me.” Yes, politicians know very well that the voice of the people is a fickle voice. Remember how popular
George Bush was after the Persian Gulf War? Remember how few votes he received in the ’92 election?
No, the voice of people can’t always be trusted. At sporting events the same crowd who boos at a player
madly after a series of mistakes will cheer for him wildly after a great play. Crowds have a short memory.
They’re usually asking, “What have you done for me today?”
That happened to Jesus. The same voices that shouted, “Hosanna!” on Sunday were yelling, “Crucify
him,” and “Give us Barrabas,” by Friday morning. It’s pretty sad.
Judas ended up selling out for 30 pieces of silver. And when Jesus was arrested Thursday night in the
Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew’s Gospel closes the scene with these chilling words, “Then all the
disciples deserted him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56) Where was all the applause then?
You know what’s even more sad? A little earlier in the evening in a moment of applause Peter told Jesus,
“Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matthew 26:33)
But Peter took off too. Then he denied knowing Jesus 3 times before the sun came up.