Summary: Everybody that first Palm Sunday misunderstood what was going on. Will we see the real Jesus or go along with the crowd & see Jesus like the latest political hero?
Palm Sunday - All the way
John 12: 12 - 19
Obviously when you made your way here today you knew that we would be thinking about Palm Sunday, so it is no surprise that our reading retells the story of that amazing day. I chose to focus though on John’s story because of the text we have today namely John 12:19 "So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"
These religious leaders think that the whole world had gone after Jesus because of the size of the crowds surrounding them & waving their palms as Jesus entered the city. Yet despite all the numbers around that day no-one seems to have truly understood the enormity of what was unfolding before their eyes.
The Pharisees, who were of course alarmed because they could see the popular appeal of Jesus; so many people were all around Him it looked to them like the whole world come to acclaim Him as King, as a great political leader.
I suppose like me you have seen the images on your TV screens of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton & John McCain. The cheering crowds in these presidential primaries in the USA give us a clue as to what it must have looked like that to the Pharisees. It is no surprise at all that the religious & political leaders saw a very real threat.
But Jesus wasn’t another political all dressed up smartly in an Armani suit. Could the crowd really have misunderstood so much that they just see Jesus politically?
Well of course the answer on the whole is yes the Pharisees did see a political & religious threat, a direct challenging to their status & standing.
Of course it is fair to say that the Romans weren’t that bothered about religion. They tolerated all sorts of religious thought & expression, but when you get all political, when you become a religious zealot then you had real problems.
So at some point Pilate & the Romans must have felt that Jesus was indeed a political as well as a religious threat.
I think during what we now call Holy Week the crowd, the people must have begun to see Jesus as a political saviour too. Perhaps they saw this Jesus a lot like Obama in the USA is portraying himself as the man to rally the nation & bring about change for the better. Yes liberation from oppressive Roman occupation was the popular crowds real & present dream but it wasn’t Jesus’ – He was aiming at an altogether bigger target, the salvation of all people in every time & place.
There must have been people on that day who twigged & saw something of what was going on in regard to the Old Testament prophecy. Some held true to their faith & must have glimpsed that this Jesus might be the new David, yet the test of time shows that even their vision was too limited.
Thank heavens for the disciples then, they at least must have realized the significance of this entry into Jerusalem. Well I don’t think they did. Yes they had glimpses that Jesus was more – but it was only with hindsight that all the pieces were there. John 12:16 tells us this - At first His disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him & that they had done these things to him." Only after the resurrection as they sat back & reflected on their life with Jesus did all the pennies drop into place.