Summary: Some saw Jesus entering Jerusalem as a triumph. Others saw it as a tragedy. Many simply missed what was happening.
PALM SUNDAY - TRIUMPH OR TRAGEDY?
Did anyone here watch Canada defeat America for the gold medal in hockey a few weeks ago. Odds are that you did. An estimated 17 million Canadians (more than half the population or Canada) tuned in to the game making it the most watched TV broadcast in Canadian history. It was a nail biter. When America tied the game with only a few seconds left many thought the dream was over. The winning goal from Canada came 7 minutes and 40 seconds into overtime. The images that kept being replayed were those final seconds. The puck goes into the net and then the crowd goes wild – at least half of them. Many were very happy at that momment but many others were very disappointed.
What is so amazing to me about this and every other major sports event is the way that different people respond differently to the exact same situation. There are always 3 distinct groups of people present. There are those who are happy because their team won. There are those who are sad because their team lost. Lastly, there are those who really didn’t care about who won or lost. They were just there as observers not placing any significance in either winning or losing.
Today is Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem a week before His crucifixion. Just like at a sporting event there were three distinct groups of people that were there that day long ago. There were those who saw triumph, there were those who saw tragedy and there were those who simply missed what was happening. They saw no real significance in the events of that day.
Luke 19:37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" 40 "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you."
1. TRIUMPH - those who received (vs. 37-38)
A week before the cross Jesus entered Jerusalem to cries of praise and worship. This was the Triumphal Entry. It was at that time that Jesus was at the height of His public ministry. He was recognized as being the Messiah. In Matthew it says " Hosanna to the Son of David!". In Mark it says: “Hosanna - Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David”. In John it says "Blessed is the King of Israel!". The word Hosanna means “Save us now!” and was an expression of praise. The crowds recognized who Jesus was and “for all the miracles they had seen."
A week later a similar scene took place on the cross. One of the thieves nailed beside Jesus accepts Him as Lord. He recognized his crime and knew he was getting exactly what he deserved. He had broken the law and was being punished for it. His “Hosanna” was a simple declaration of faith and trust “remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Jesus responded to his request with an affirmation and promise of salvation “today you will be with me in paradise”. No theological arguments or strings attached. Just the gift of eternal life.
A boy and his father were driving down a country road on a beautiful spring afternoon, when a bumblebee flew in the car window. The little boy, who was allergic to bee stings, was petrified. The father quickly reached out, grabbed the bee, squeezed it in his hand, and then released it. The boy grew frantic as it buzzed by him. Once again the father reached out his hand, but this time he pointed to his palm. There stuck in his skin was the stinger of the bee. "Do you see this?" he asked. "You don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve taken the sting for you." We do not need to fear death anymore. Christ has died and risen again. He has taken the sting from death. We need no longer fear the grave.