Summary: What do you bring to the parade? What will you give Jesus today? He is passing by. He is looking your way. Will you look him in the eye, take him by the hand, and make him your King and Lord?
Ticker-tape parades are not as common today as they once were. There was a time when our country honored our heroes and heroines with colossal spectacles. Celebrities would ride in a convertible automobile down the massive canyons of steel and glass, with walls so high that the sun is seen but for a few minutes. Often bands playing rousing Sousa marches led the parades. Young ladies tossing batons and swirling pom-poms followed. Tons of confetti, streamers, balloons, and ticker tape cascaded down upon them like a waterfall. Everybody was there. It was a time of great excitement. I would have loved to have been present for such gala events. I would have hated to have been the street sweeper, though.
Almost 2,000 years ago Jesus Was Given A Parade. A mass of humanity was present; perhaps as many as 2.5 million people crowded the narrow streets converging on the holy city of Jerusalem at Passover time. From the distance, there came a noise—a kind of rhythmic, staccato chant that wafted in . . . now louder . . . and louder . . . from the southern gate of the city. People stopped talking to each other and turned their faces and their ears toward the sound. A recurring word could be heard: Hosanna. Hosanna. Hosanna. It was more like a cheer than a chant. As the procession got closer and closer people began to see the dust rising from shuffling feet. Men pushed and shoved to get closer to the street. The Hosanna’s got louder and louder, reverberating against stonewalls.
A man came running ahead of the procession. He was saying something that the people had to strain to hear: “Jesus of Nazareth is coming! The Prophet is coming! The man who raises the dead is coming! Hurry, Jesus is coming!” The crowd began to inch closer and closer to the street. Dads hoisted their children to their shoulders. Teenagers climbed trees lining the streets for an unhindered view. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of this strange prophet they had heard about.
What they saw was strange—or, at least, totally unexpected. Jesus moved serenely on the back of a small white donkey, much like a man riding in a convertible. Jesus, the honored celebrity, was the center of attention, the eye of the hurricane, around him chaos, but in him calmness. Rather than the sound of confetti and streamers ruffling the air, one could hear the sounds of slashing and whooshing of palm fronds as they were placed in front of the donkey’s hooves. Other parade watchers took off their coats and their cloaks and spread them before Jesus, much like a red carpet being rolled out for royalty. The coats made a mosaic of multi-colored profusion. It was an incredible scene. I would have loved to been there for that gala event. I wouldn’t have wanted to be the street sweeper, though. All segments of humanity were at the Palm Sunday procession for Jesus that day. You know how I know? I know by what was left on the streets. You can tell a lot about people by what they leave behind.
I. The Passers-by—The Innocent (burlap bag)
The innocent passers-by had never seen Jesus before and did not recognize him now, found themselves caught up in the procession. Many were travelers, pilgrims with their burlap bags, in Jerusalem for Passover. Perhaps, they had come early that morning to the marketplace to shop. Or maybe they had planned a family outing to picnic on the Mount of Olives. They knew nothing of what was to come. They were at the right place at the right time. They simply got caught up in the historical moment.
I know how they felt. A few summers ago while vacationing in Florida our family traveled to Cape Canaveral. My daughter loves the space and rocket museums and I love the tour of NASA. And after several days on the beach, we welcomed the change of pace. We departed early anticipating arriving at the NASA visitor’s center when it opened. When we turned off of I-95 onto State Road 528 headed toward the Cape we found ourselves in bumper-to-bumper traffic. My wife’s parents were with us. I told them that the last time we visited NASA it was a breeze. I said, “There must be a lot of people going to visit the space flight center.” For over an hour we inched and crawled our way along, wondering why there were so many people on this particular day going to the space center. As we slowly moved closer and closer to our final destination, still in a quandary as to why so many people were on the road, we noticed that a lot of people were parking on the side of the road. Some were getting out of their cars. Still others had spread blankets out on grassy knolls with blankets and picnic baskets. Others had camera’s hanging from their necks. A few cradled binoculars. And then in unison it hit us. A shuttle launch must be scheduled today. We asked someone and he confirmed our suspicions. It was 9:53 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. the space shuttle was scheduled to lift off. I pulled the car off to the side of the road, got out of the car. And, then, we watched as the shuttle majestically jettisoned into the heavens.