Summary: Everybody loves a parade, right? One of the most significant parades in history took place without big bands, clowns on motorbikes, or magnificent floats. In fact, this parade really only had one registered entry - a man riding on the colt of a donkey.
As a nation, we love to throw a party, don’t we? We don’t need much of an excuse to raise a little ruckus now, do we? There are a lot of ways in which we do that, too. Parties, pep rallies, and parades to name a few. Everybody loves a parade, right? On Thanksgiving & New Year’s, we sit in front of our TV sets to watch parades - Macy’s and the Rose Parade. I had the distinguished honor of marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA, when I was in the high school band in North Carolina. (It looks really glamorous on TV, but marching non-stop for almost 7 miles isn’t too glamorous in person.) We see the bands, the fancy floats, and the big Snoopy balloons go by. Parades commemorate special events and special people. They can contribute to some really exciting times.
Some parades are purely for spectators; people watch them go by. Others are for participants. We experienced that firsthand when we lived in New Orleans and learned that you can work up a real sweat while watching and participating in a Mardi Gras parade. People are actively involved in the parade as it goes by. Some parades are small, like local Christmas parades or high school homecoming parades. Others are large, like the Rose Parade or Macy’s. But does size of the parade really have anything to do with its significance?
One of the most significant parades in history took place without big bands, clowns on motorbikes, or magnificent floats. In fact, this parade really only had one registered entry, but oh what an entry! This single entry was a man riding on the colt of a donkey. Yet, this parade leading into the city of Jerusalem marked the beginning of a week that would literally change the world forever!
Riding on the colt of a donkey, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem to begin the week that would lead to his crucifixion. “So what?,” you say. “What’s the big deal? What’s all the hoopla?” It was a big deal for several reasons. We’re going to spend a few moments together this morning seeing just what all the hoopla was concerning this parade led by Jesus. Let’s take a look in Luke 19:28-44.
The Palm Sunday parade was first of all …
1) A celebration
Like any successful event, a parade must be carefully planned. To insure that the parade would be the celebration he intended, Jesus planned it himself. Up to this point, Jesus had kept a pretty low profile. He had healed many, but had often stated, “Go and tell no one.” Now was the time for recognition. Since it was apparent that no one else planned to give Jesus a plaque, a gold pocket watch, or any other recognition, he decided to plan his own parade.
We’re often reluctant to go about tooting our own horn; we’re discouraged from doing so. When we do, it often has a way of coming back to haunt us. A man was honored by receiving an honorary doctorate at a major university. When he was introduced to the audience, the announcer said, “A very great man, no, a very, very great man indeed is with us tonight.” During the ride home, the man was still riding high on the crest of his wave of glory. He asked his wife, “Honey, how many very, very great men do you suppose there are in the world?” She said, “One less than you think, Dear.”
Understand this, there was no conceit on Jesus’ part to conduct this celebration. He knew what was needed for the event, and he insured that it was obtained. After all, he wanted the celebration to be a success for the welfare of those who would be in the crowd watching it.
The Passover feast was just about to begin. This celebration brought many spiritual pilgrims to Jerusalem and fueled the fires of spiritual and messianic expectations. Historians tell us that it was not unusual to have between two and three million people in Jerusalem for the Passover. This yearly reminder served to help the Israelites never forget that it was the blood of the lamb that provided their deliverance. Now, Jesus was about to be slain once-for-all, for the remission of sins.
So, this parade was a celebration of Jesus – of his greatness and his humility. Think about how well the Lord knew the people and the surroundings. He knew right where the colt was (vv. 30, 32). Did he have telepathic powers like Superman? No, he was just observant of the people and needs around him. He had watched carefully as he walked up and down the streets.
Interestingly, Matthew (ch. 21) tells us that the colt was a donkey and that it was with its mother. There the disciples were instructed to bring both of them, perhaps to help the colt not be so wild. Historians tell us that these animals were quite expensive. In our culture today, it would be like someone coming up to a bright red convertible Ferrari, opening the door, starting the car and driving away. When the owner comes running outside you would just say, “The Lord needs it.”