Summary: There was more than just a parade that happened on Palm Sunday
What a day! Normally when we think of the Sunday before Easter we focus on what is traditionally referred to as the “Triumphant Entry”. You remember the story, Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a young donkey and the crowds come out to greet him, yelling praises and waving Palm Branches which is where the day received the name that is certainly a part of common usage in the Church today. Right? Because we all know that today is “Palm Sunday”.
But that was a just the beginning of the day, a day much bigger than the parade that started the day out. But that is really how we are in life, focusing on the high points, on the parades and parties.
It is interesting the Triumphant Entry is covered in all four gospels and all of the descriptions are basically the same. But the other events of the day are included in some of the accounts and not included in other accounts. In some gospels there are things recorded as happening on Sunday and in other accounts we are told they happened the next day. And we’ve been here before in saying that it’s easy for the critics and skeptics to point at these accounts and to say “Look the gospel writers can’t even agree on what happened.”
But for me that is simply an argument for the authenticity of the account, if all four accounts were identical it would be easy to suspect that one account was written and then the other writers simply copied what the first writer had put down.
Week before last the staff were booked to go away to a ministry conference in Moncton on March 20th. It was an event that we had all been looking forward to for various reasons. The speaker is someone who I follow online, a Canadian pastor by the name of Carey Nieuwhof, but more than that because it was a district event we got to reconnect with friends and colleagues.
Here is the thing, we were all planning on going to the same event, but we all saw it from different perspectives. I had another meeting in Moncton so I went up a day earlier, on Thursday the day after the storm so I was in Moncton to start with and arrived at the event earlier than the rest of the group. The roads were nuts, but only for me, not the rest of the staff. Most of the staff came up the next day, and they saw an accident at the NB NS border, I didn’t see that. Ben and Bayley had Winnie with them so things were a little different for them than for the rest of us. Stefan and Deborah’s cul-de-sac didn’t even get plowed out until Friday so they missed the entire event. The rest of the staff headed back on Saturday morning but I had an additional meeting on Saturday so I didn’t head back until later in the day.
And so if you asked the staff what happened last Friday they would tell you that they attended, or almost attended a Day with Carey Niewhof, but they would all tell it from different perspectives. We all talked to different people, we all remembered different things that Carey said, some of us were at some of the events and others weren’t for various reasons.
And so was the day that we collectively refer to as Palm Sunday. A lot of stuff happened that day, more than just a parade with palm branches. We are now in the homestretch of this part of the Jesus story. There is barely a week left in this chapter of the book when it would close with the bloody and brutal death of Jesus.
So what happened on that day and the next day, and what does it tell us about the Jesus we serve and call Lord?
Well, it did begin with a parade. Jesus arrives in town after having spent six days in Bethany at the house of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. I spoke about Martha a few weeks ago. This was the Lazarus who Jesus had raised from the dead. John 12:9-11 When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. Man that was harsh. But as far as we know Lazarus wasn’t killed by the leading priests, but they thought about it and you know what they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”
So what are the lessons we learn?
And so we pick up the story in John 12:12-13 The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!”