Summary: Why did Jesus cry at His party on Palm Sunday?
It’s My Party, and I’ll Cry if I Want To
When Lesley Gore wrote the song, “It’s My Party” several decades ago, it was about a girl who got betrayed by her best friend who took her guy. And this was at her birthday party. So she laments “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to, die if I want to….” Although the parallel between this song and the text seems purely accidental, it remarkably describes what happens to Jesus as He comes up to Jerusalem.
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem to finish fulfilling the prophecy about him in in Isaiah 53:3 that He would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Let us see how Luke portrays Jesus “Triumphal Entry” on Palm Sunday. Open your bibles to Luke 19. We will start reading from verse 29.
Jesus had just finished telling the dual parable which described His rejection of being king by the Jewish people and that the kingdom was not arriving at His coming to Jerusalem. So Luke has prepared the table for the events that were about to happen, Despite the many times Jesus had told them of what was coming, rejection, and death, His disciples were deaf.
As Jesus arrived at the Mount of Olives, he came to the small villages of Bethany and Bethpage. John records that Jesus spent the night at Bethany with his friend Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. There, Mary anointed Him with costly oil for his burial. The Messiah, the Anointed One was prepared for death rather than christened King which should have been the proper honor due Him by the people of Jerusalem.
As soon as Jesus got back on the road again, he called two of his disciples and told them to loose a colt that was tied up in Bethpage on the other side of the Jericho-Jerusalem road. If we read along with Matthew’s account, this cold was tied up with his mother. As a means of calming the colt who never had borne a burden before, the mother was led along as well. Whether Jesus had prearranges the borrowing of the colt is impossible to determine. It may be so if we understand the human Jesus. But the divine Jesus is Lord of all and owned the colt anyway.
The colt was brought to Jesus. A white majestic steed it was not. A donkey was a humble beast of burden. Jesus did this to fulfill the words of Zachariah 9:9 which said that Israel’s king would come as a humble man upon a humble beast of burden. This is how King Jesus came to Jerusalem. Some of the crowd understood what Jesus was doing without understanding why He was doing it. Their level of excitement was raised. King Jesus the Messiah was coming to town! The people placed their expensive garments to be trodden under by the colt and her mother. Palm branches were cut from the trees and waved. A casual English reader needs to know that the Palm Branch was the symbol of the last time Israel was a free nation. The Zealots of Jesus’ day who wanted to overthrow Roman dominion in Israel and set up an independent Jewish state used it as their symbol. And Passover was a religious equivalent of our Independence Day, their fourth of July in which Israel remembered how God had freed Israel from Egyptian bondage.
So despite all that Jesus had tried to teach rightly concerning Himself and His upcoming mission to Jerusalem, the people and his disciples got it all wrong. The people started singing the 118th Psalm which was always recited around Passover time with a new fervor. They cried out the line of the psalm “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD. They were fast to recite the lines of kingship. They could see this was the day the LORD had made. They rejoiced and were exceptionally exuberant. But they did not seem to remember that this Psalm also says “The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Like humans are apt to do, their hearing is very good when it is something they want to hear but stone deaf to that which is not.
When we look at all of the Palm Sunday accounts, those who were coming with Jesus to Passover in Jerusalem were the first to be infected to a fever pitch. But people who were already in the city heard the excitement and came out to join the procession. The King was coming to Jerusalem. God had finally heard the cries of the people, and the Romans were toast. King Jesus was coming to exercise His dominion over not just Israel but all the world. This Son of David was coming to punish Israel’s enemies and usher in a time of peace in Israel. This is what most were thinking as Jesus approached the city. It is painful to realize that the crowds shouting “Hosanna” would soon shout “Crucify Him!” with equal vigor. The waving of Palm branches would soon be replaced by the palling of the palm of human hands against the face of Jesus.