Summary: On Palm Sunday expectations as to who Jesus was did not meet with reality, Often when expectations don't meet with reality the outcome will be conflict, either internal or external. The religious people already had their minds set on an outcome for Jesus.
Palm Sunday Sermon expectations?
In Luke’s gospel as in all the Biblical gospels we are given a depiction of what is often referred to as the “Triumphal Entry”, we have this depiction of Jesus mysteriously instructing a couple of his disciples to head off into town and untie a colt of what is described in the other gospels as a donkey, or in some a donkey and its colt and bring it for Jesus to ride. If anyone was to ask why the lads were untying it they were to say “the Lord needs it.” All very unusual really, as it happened this is what happens, the disciples when they are challenged why they are untying the colt reply as Jesus instructed them to.
I’m sure that Jesus had somehow made arrangements to lease the colt.
The disciples now brought the colt to Jesus they then threw their cloaks on the colt and “as he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.” Matthews gospel records that this occurred also and “others cut branches from trees and spread them on the road” (Matt 21:8b) Matthew records that this was a “very large crowd”. Mark records that “Many people spread their cloaks on the road; while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.” (Mark 11:8).
For those of us who live in the two thousand and fifteen we could look at this and say well it’s no big deal really this is no All Black welcome home, this is no home coming parade for the Black Caps after we've beaten Australia in the World Cup Cricket, this is some bloke riding a young donkey into a city somewhere in the middle east with branches and cloaks really what’s the big deal? There are no fire engines, no marching band, dancing girls and no blokes in clown costumes riding unicycles and juggling.
But and this is really big.
Jesus entry as it was into Jerusalem, the riding of this colt, the way he went about it was massive. Lights should have been going off in the minds of all present, explosions of understanding should have had the cerebral neurons in their brains firing with great rapidity and hearts of every learned Hebrew religious scholar or priest racing. These scholars and priests should have been leaping out of their skin in anticipation as to what was occurring.
Why? Try this from the prophet Zechariah written 480 BC (Zechariah 9:9-11).
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
If you want to get your head into a bit of interesting reading about the coming of the Christ, Zechariah is a great way to while away a few hours.
But somehow we find that the learned blokes just didn't click. Or was there a more sinister reason that they didn't get it? I think we find that this is the case. John records prior to his account of the triumphal entry that there was already a plan afoot to kill Jesus and the Chief Priests and the Pharisees were the ones who instigated it. John chapter 11:49 reads “Then one of them named Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all ! You do not realise it is better for you that one man die than the whole nation perish.” Interestingly John in the following couple of verses states “He (Caiaphas) prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation and not only that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” How awesome is it that these words are also words about us, us who are brought together sinful men and women, saved by grace through faith and now the church, the body of Christ on earth. Meaty stuff this.
The religious bods, these priests and Pharisees didn't get it because their eyes were closed to who Jesus was, they didn't get it because they had rationalised away the reality, they didn't get it because they had their own agenda, an agenda to kill the Jesus who they failed to see as the messiah. Why? Because they feared outcomes that might possibly never be realised. There’s quite a good little saying, “of all the horrors great and small the worst are those that don’t happen at all”. The religious leaders were living in fear, the Jewish people in Jerusalem were politically vulnerable and in part they believed that if they killed this Rabbi Jesus the Roman authorities would be happy. An act of evil for the greater good, very much politics, Jesus death was in part a political killing.