Summary: Christ knew the road to Jerusalem, but he also knew the journey. This is true of the paths we walk in this life.
THE PATHWAY OF PALM SUNDAY
Ask people to describe life and most will depict it in the same way, as a path or road. The reason is simple: life is like a journey. It’s a voyage from one experience to the next – from one tribulation to triumph and back again. Once again, we have gathered together and have been granted the privilege to travel down the road of our Savior’s life. We traverse a specific street today: THE PATHWAY OF PALM SUNDAY. As we walk with our Savior from glory to glory we see that this is 1) A Familiar Road; it’s one we’ve walked before. Yet, our traveling companion is Jesus, which means this is always 2) A Unique Journey.
1) A Familiar Road
It was a familiar road the disciples found themselves on that first Palm Sunday; the road to Jerusalem. They knew, as they reached the town of Bethany, they would soon turn round the Mount of Olives, and see the city of Jerusalem suddenly sprawl out before them. They had traveled this way with Jesus before. They would again come to the city, which, at this time, would be swelling with millions ready to celebrate the Passover.
Jesus knew the road as well. He’d traveled it before, from little on. Mary and Joseph brought him to Jerusalem for the feast every year. It was a magnificent road, a wonderful road to the pilgrims who traveled it. It was especially breathtaking, when, after not seeing the city for the whole journey, you come around that mountain, and there it is! You would see the temple glistening in the afternoon sunlight, the magnificent, towering gates; you’d remember the great history of it all: how King David first took that parcel of land as God’s city, and how Solomon first built a glorious temple there. Then you’d recall years of sorrow, when it lay in ruin during seventy years of captivity, until Nehemiah rebuilt its walls.
The road itself was known, loved. But the journey of that Palm Sunday was completely different. The road would not change, but the things along the way, and the end result, would be different than any other trip ever made to Jerusalem. Today, a donkey’s colt would be found tied up outside, and used as a mount for Jesus to enter Jerusalem. Today, throngs of people would go ahead and behind Jesus saying, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
The road was familiar. The road did not change; but the journey was unique. The disciples knew the road; Jesus knew the journey. He knew what lay along the road, telling them, “You will find a colt, untie it.” He knew what answer they needed to give: “the lord has need of it, and will bring it back shortly.”
Let’s talk about what he rode that day. It was a young donkey colt, which had ever been ridden before. This was a beast of burden, not a riding beast. This animal offered good ride for baggage, not for people. The Gospel writer Mark records one important fact; this animal had never been ridden. It wasn’t ever used. This is in line with Old Testament Law. Anything offered to God for a sacred purpose was to be new, never used for labor. The Lord only uses the new, the fresh, and the untarnished. He uses things that have never really been used for anything else. He accepts and uses the little, the small, even the insignificant, but He doesn’t like leftovers, second hand offerings. Note well, if we really want to put something to the Lord’s use, let’s remember little things, small things, fine -- but used, left over things? -- Don’t expect he’ll do much with it.
The disciples went and found things exactly as Jesus said. They answered the owner just how he said to answer, and came back with the donkey. Then they put their cloaks on it, and Jesus rode it. Now this sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially if you’ve ever tried riding an unbroken horse. Donkeys are more stubborn than horses. Here Jesus had an unbroken colt, with a crowd of onlookers shouting “hosanna!” And now, Jesus was going to ride this thing through that crowd? A recipe for disaster, indeed! But there’s not even a hint of trouble as Jesus rides this humble animal into Jerusalem. He enters the city as the Lord and King and sacrifice. This small animal must have known: “this is my creator, the Savior of the World, the Son of God, upon my back…I’ll let him have an easy ride!”
Jesus knew where the journey would end: today, crowds shouting Hosanna! By Friday morning, crowds yelling “crucify.” Today, we see crowds laying palm branches before him. By Friday, women follow behind him with tears, his blood and sweat dripping as he toils under the cross. Jesus knew the journey. Still, he went forward. The crowds also went before and they followed behind him. They called him the One who comes in the Name of the Lord. They knew Jesus brought God’s Kingdom, the eternal Kingdom promised to King David. They believed he came as the promised Messiah, or deliverer. They called out “Hosanna,” which means “Lord, save us!” And they knew that he would.