Summary: Ready to join a Jesus Parade? It's different than you may imagine. It involves kingship and protest. It involves faith and courage. It involves surrender and sacrifice. It involves praise and peace. But it leads to a life of victory.
Scripture: Mark 11
Mark 11 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Hosanna![a]” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[b]
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Good morning! What a joy it is to be with all of you this Palm Sunday Morning. I am so glad all of you are here this morning!
This morning I would like for us to look at Jesus' Parade into Jerusalem. All four Gospels share what we call the Triumphal Entry. And all over the world today services begin with people waving Palm Branches and singing songs of Praise as they walk into service.
What we may not be aware of however, is that day over 2,000 years ago there were two parades going on. The one we know the most about it Jesus' planned parade. And it was a planned parade. Jesus orchestrated the whole event, even down to the point where there would be a donkey and its colt to ride. This was not some kind of spontaneous event that took place. Jesus set to make it happen. It is important for us to realize this fact.
And while Jesus was setting up this parade coming in to Jerusalem from the East there was another important parade taking place in the West. And while Jesus' parade is a once in a life time parade this was one that was done every year right according to schedule.
The Gospels chose not to record this parade. Perhaps it was because it was one of the least popular parades for a 1st century Jew. Every year right along with the celebration of Passover the Romans made it a priority that they would also have a parade.
Passover was that time of the year that Jews celebrated their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt along with their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. The book of Exodus is dedicated to sharing this event which took place around 1400 - 1300 BC. Each Passover celebration there was a heightened and renewed spirit of freedom. Each Passover thousands looked forward to the time when they would again be a freed people.
To counter such thoughts, Rome would in the middle of Passover have its own parade. Whoever happened to be the Roman governor of Judea at the time would ride up to Jerusalem from the west - and in this particular case it was Pontius Pilate (AD 26-36).
Jerusalem's population swelled to 4 times its normal size during Passover. At the time of Jesus the normal population would have been around 50,000 people. Therefore, at Passover it normally grew to approx. 200,000 or more. One can imagine all the crowding and all the added noise and congestion. Families getting together again, people seeing each other for the first time in years - everyone getting ready to have a great time celebrating Passover.
And in the middle of all this celebration, Pontius Pilate representing Imperial Rome would interrupt with their own parade. Rome could care less about some ancient Jewish celebration. The Jews could rejoice in retelling the stories of Moses and the Exodus. That was ancient history. What they did care about was that the Jews needed to remember that today there were under the iron rule of Rome.
So, coming out the west marching towards the city would come the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea Pontius Pilate - fully clad in his imperial dress. He would be surrounded by chariots, cavalry on horseback and foot soldiers fully clothed and armed. They would have their swords at their side and their spears clutched in their hands. In the front would be Rome's golden eagles mounted on poles shining brightly in the sun for all to see and fear. There would be the sound of the chariots, the clinking of bridles and the constant cadence of the drums.