Summary: The red carpet would shortly be stained blood red.
The Red Carpet
It’s Palm Sunday. What does this day mean to you? Just one more week to chocolate heaven? The day we get the leaf at church and the kids parade through the sanctuary with them? Actually it’s the day they threw down the symbolic red carpet for Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Can you imagine what it must have been like on that day almost 2000 years ago? Today we’re going to take at the last week of Jesus, much like we’ve been doing in our Lenten Bible study.
A pastor was preaching in an unfamiliar church one Sunday morning. As he stood in the pulpit to begin the service, he tapped the microphone to make sure that it was on. He heard nothing, even though it was working fine. So he leaned closer to the microphone and said, he thought, to himself; "There is something wrong with this thing." The congregation, being well trained church people immediately responded, "And also with you."
This story illustrates the danger of familiarity. We can be so accustomed to routine that we stop paying attention to what we are doing.
Being too familiar with things can be dangerous. Most of you have lived here for many, many years and you’ve driven these roads thousands of times. You know these roads like the back of your hands. If something different happens on the road we may not notice it at all... At least, until it’s too late.
A husband and wife can soon take for granted all the things their spouse does. In fact, they become so used to those provisions (meals cooked, garbage taken out, laundry done, yard mowed, children taken care of) that before long we don’t even show any appreciation to our spouses. And before we know it, the marriage begins to falter. A parent can become so used to having their child filling their life with joy that they don’t appreciate their child.... Until they move away.
The same is can be said about living in any small town. People complain about how everybody knows everybody’s business. All the time, unappreciative of the friendly neighbors, good school system, safe community, and even a post office where the mail will get to you even if it has the wrong address.
Familiarity is also the danger we face as we come to the Easter season. The accounts of the Triumphal Entry, the events of Holy Week, and Easter are so familiar to most of us, we know them so well, that we kind of just go through the motions without letting the impact of these events really reach us. Familiar stories tend to cause us to drift into a mode that says, "Yeah, Yeah, I know that one."
The challenge every year is to read these accounts with a new perspective. This year, rather than focusing on details, we’re taking a step back. We’re going to look at the big picture.
We are all familiar of how the disciples were sent to get the donkey for Jesus’ red carpet ride into Jerusalem. There are different theories as to how the acquisition transpired, but however it happened, the disciples brought the colt to Jesus. It was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 that their king bringing salvation would also come riding on a colt. All to the cheers and shouts of the people. But within the span of just a very few days, the attitude changed dramatically.
Some years ago a book was written by a noted American historian entitled "When the Cheering Stopped." It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero. Optimism was high and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy.
On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn’t believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be all right.
The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home, Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President’s health began to break.
In the next election his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year or two earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.