Summary: A Palm Sunday message with a different perspective. That of a father... and using WWI parades as a backdrop.
I Was There - week 1
Read John 12:12-28a
There was a lot going on that day. That whole colt thing… it was important. We don’t really get it like they did. First… there’s no mention in other places in Scripture of Jesus riding from place to place. We’re left to believe that he walked from city to city. Riding was intentional this day.
Zechariah 9:9 - Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey's colt.
He was intentionally fulfilling prophecy… and not only that. The people knew what his actions were saying. You see, in times of war the conqueror would ride upon a prancing stallion. But in times of peace, the king would ride a colt to symbolize that peace prevailed. So, for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem upon a colt is to declare that He is a King.
A large crowd watched as he passed… placing palm branches and garments on the road. This is the ancient red carpet. Jesus was a celebrity. He was getting royal treatment… declaring himself king… and these people were thrilled… yelling… Hosanna… literally… “Save us” or “Save now”.
Jesus is riding… as people call out… wave at him… try to get his attention… some want to be healed, because they’ve heard that he’s healed people… some want to know him… to be famous… some just wanting entertainment… a break in the boredom of life… some want him to be the king… and Jesus riding the colt… fulfilling prophecy… seemed to be indicating that he was ready to overthrow the government…
But beyond the shouting and red carpet treatment were the people in the shadows. Threatened by Jesus… not agreeing with his interpretations… and his blasphemy of calling himself God… and now king.
The problem is… everyone there was the same. Everyone there was looking for what they could get. Freedom from Rome… freedom from the ruling class… entertainment… healing… vengeance… everyone… from the people in the shadows… squinting and judging… to the people throwing coats and palm leaves… Save Me… or spare me… where me seemed to be the focus of each cry.
Each person there had an agenda… but Jesus was different. He’s the only one that saw the direction this road was taking. I have to think… that as he met each look… as he touched each hand… as he spoke each word… the real focus was on the mission.
This is why this morning… I want to look at Palm Sunday from a different perspective… we’ve waved branches in church before… we’ve even ridden donkeys down aisles… but I want, for today, to recognize a different perspective for this Palm Sunday. And it’s the perspective of the dad.
Back in WWI… they’d throw big parades for the young men who were going off to war. Many of these young men were leaving to die. Great crowds of people would gather… the men would smile… and wave… but I imagine their focus was on something else… a mission they were about to accomplish.
Young men are indestructible… or so they think. It’s why there are so many young people killed in drunk driving crashes… because even though everyone knows it’s only asking for trouble… young men sometimes think that the rules don’t apply to them. Sometimes fearless… definitely strong… seeing the task ahead of them… and knowing that they actually have to ability to do something about it.
But to Dads. I don’t know this other than what I see… what I’ve watched in my own dad. But dad’s live, in a sense, through their sons. I know that behind almost every man being sent to war in one of those parades… was a man who had invested in his son. Hours and hours of catch. Hours of driving instruction… homework help… discipline… advice on women… work… hundreds of talks on patriotism… doing what’s right… fighting the good fight. On the old film reels that show these parades… they never seem to show the dad. I think that in every case, the dad would have willingly gone to war in the son’s place… but the son is the only one who can go… and back then… everyone… or almost everyone believed in the cause.
I don’t know if dad would attend the parade or not. I do know that dad probably cried. He was proud… sure… his son was going to fight for something they believed in. But he’d heard the stories. People coming back missing body parts. People dying. The cause deserved it… people would die without his son’s involvement… but that doesn’t seem to make everything better.
As everyone in the crowd screamed and cheered… confetti was dropped and bands played… America was confident that this war would be short… and decisive. Save us… they would chant… save now… they would cheer. Except for dad. The worst was ahead for his son… but the war must be fought… and the war must be won. Dad would go in place of his son… but war was for young men.