Summary: This Palm Sunday, and every day, as we wave our leafy branches and worship our God and King, we have to remember who this really is. We can never forget just how very much he loves us, and we have to go out and love others in the same way.
Perhaps you have heard all the news lately about Queen Elizabeth’s “Diamond Jubilee.” This year marks the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth’s reign as the Queen of England. She ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952. The “Diamond Jubilee” is the international celebration throughout 2012 that marks this significant anniversary. The celebration has been in the news quite a lot lately as the Queen and other members of the royal family have been making special appearances throughout England and all the British Commonwealth of nations. All around the world special events and activities have been planned. In honor of the occasion, special funds have been created and designated for worthy causes that seek to improve the livelihood of people around the world. The Queen has paraded around London; Prince Harry has been greeted like a rock star in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries where he toured. And there’s more to come, events around the world all year long!
I don’t know your thoughts on the subject, but the whole thing strikes me as a bit odd. After all, England isn’t even really a monarchy anymore. They have a Prime Minister and a Parliament that rule the democratic nation, much like our own President and Congress. The modern monarchs of England really do quite little in governing the day-to-day affairs of their country. It seems that Elizabeth is really nothing more than a figure-head. It’s enough to make you scratch your head in wonder at this Diamond Jubilee. People around the world are celebrating this monarch who has reigned 60 years and yet has almost no power. You want to ask, “Do you understand?”
I think that was probably the same question that was running through Jesus’ mind as he entered Jerusalem on this day so many years ago. “Do you understand? Do you really understand who I am? Do you really know why I am here?” On Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem during the Passover festival. From all around, Jewish people came to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish stories of the past, stories of freedom and of hope. They would meet with relatives and friends. There would be singing, prayer, dancing, feasting. Spirits were high, outlooks bright. And it wasn’t just that the Jewish people were celebrating the stories of the past, they were also anticipating the great promised restoration of Israel. This was kingdom time: the time when Passover dreams, the great hope of freedom, would be revealed in a new way!
So with such a backdrop of celebration and anticipation, it is really no surprise that Jesus receives the welcome he does as he rides into Jerusalem. For years now, Jesus has been traveling among them. He’s been telling them of God’s coming kingdom, the promised restoration of Israel. He’s been sharing God’s love with them and talking about release for the captives and recovery of sight for the blind. They’ve even seen him living that out; healing people, raising them from the dead, freeing so-called “criminals,” and feeding the hungry.