Summary: With the Passion staring Him in the face, we might ask, why should there be a parade? Why the waving of palms and shouting of hosannas? Didn't Jesus know what was going to happen?
March 31, 1996
We have followed Jesus during this Lenten Season as he sat by a well and talked with a Samaritan woman about living water and about worship. We have listened in the night hours on the housetop as he told Nicodemus, "You must be born again."
We have watched him search out the man born blind who had been excommunicated by the religious authorities after he had been healed and would not say Jesus was evil. We heard him tell him his Messiah knew and cared, and that it would be all right. We began the Lenten journey in the desert of temptation, and in the last week have gone with Jesus to the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and we have seen the power of the Word of God to rebuke the tempter, and when spoken from Christ's lips, to bring a dead man back from the grave.
There remains just one more week to complete the journey, and celebrate the Resurrection, that day in which all human hope centers. But what a tremendous week this will be! What a journey, through the Last Supper, and the Garden, and Calvary and the Grave!
With the Passion staring Him in the face, we might ask, why should there be a parade? Why the waving of palms and shouting of hosannas? Didn't Jesus know what was going to happen?
The answer is of course Jesus knew. On this last journey to Jerusalem (Matthew 20:18) Jesus told the disciples "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day he will rise again."
SO, WHY THE PARADE AT ALL? Matthew records the crowds in Jerusalem that day as being "moved." They asked the question, "WHO IS THIS?" And the people in the parade answered back: "THIS IS JESUS, THE PROPHET FROM NAZARETH OF GALILEE." Which (statement) was true as far as it went.
WHY THE PARADE? We remember a chorus we learned as children: "Everybody ought to know who Jesus is!" And the people themselves really didn't know if Jesus was a prophet, or a deluded pretender— or an unwitting victim of what was going to come that week of Passover. But Jesus knew! And this parade was a statement of His authority.
The Triumphal Entry was a Necessary Part of the Plan
The parade was a deliberate statement that Jesus was not a martyr, taken by surprise and afterward made into a hero by his followers. Rather, Jesus was telling them then, so they could understand later— and telling us now, so we can see with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, that the Cross was a battle, not an execution, and that sin and death and hell were being squarely faced, not merely accepted as inevitable.
The triumphant Entry tells us:
I AM THE KING OF PEACE
Jesus was making no mistake. He was declaring that he was the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus arranged himself for the donkey and the colt. It was a festive time, with people on hand for the high holy days. They were ready for celebration. But Jesus was also fulfilling scripture. (Zechariah 14:4) He knew where the week would take him, and yet he encouraged the cries of "Hosanna!" When the authorities told him he was on an ego trip Jesus replied with the self-knowledge of the Son of God "If these do not praise me on my way to the Cross, the very rocks and stones in the streets will cry out. Their Creator is passing!"
The Triumphant Entry begins the Pascal Procession:
I AM THE LAMB OF GOD
The words of the Psalm that closes the "hallel" portion of the Psalter, the hymn that Jesus no doubt sang the night he transformed the Passover into the Eucharist, Holy Communion, come to mind— the words we heard that opened the service and began the procession into the sanctuary today:
"This is the day!
"The stone the builders rejected— is to become the chief stone of the corner"
"Bind the festal sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar!"
The procession to the high altar had begun! The sacrifice was willingly on its way!
The Triumphal Entry says Love Can and Will Triumph
I AM HE THAT HAVE THE KEYS OF DEATH AND OF HELL
Luke is the evangelist that records that this joyous parade was interrupted as Jesus paused on the hillside overlooking the temple mount and wept over the city of Jerusalem. There was sorrow there— but it was not for himself that Jesus wept.
There remains just one more week to complete the journey, and celebrate the Resurrection, that day in which all human hope centers. What a tremendous week this will be! What a journey, through the Last Supper, and the Garden, and Calvary and the Grave! With the Battle for Our Souls just ahead, the story this morning is not a complete one. It will be next Sunday. Until then I challenge you to watch and wait with me— in worship and praise for what our Lord has done!