Wave Your Palm Branch Matthew 21:1-17
This is a synopsis, or quick review, of the sermon for Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022. I am only hitting the highlights of the message, not reproducing the entire sermon.
I think most of us remember the song I Love a Parade, by Harold Arlen. The tune so much amplifies the theme of marching and drumming out a beat. The song catches the anticipation, and excitement of a parade with marching bands. A parade event is one to be remembered. When my oldest daughter was a youngster, she would shake with excitement before and after a rousing parade. An occasion to be remembered.
All four Gospels report on Jesus’ impromptu parade into the city of Jerusalem the Sunday before His crucifixion. It is, for good reason, called His “Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.” Jesus has gathered a large following, especially in the region of Galilee. Many follow out of mere curiosity. Others want to see a miracle. Others need or have received healing from Jesus. Many others follow because they believe He is indeed the Promised Messiah (Christ) of God. The main route to Jerusalem from Galilee is to travel east of the Jordan River, and cross into Judea at the fords of the Jordon at Jericho, then up the mountain toward Jerusalem. The last hill into Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives, just east of the Temple mount in Jerusalem.
If you have visited the Holy Land, no doubt you have stood on the ridge at the top of “Olivet” and seen the Temple sight below. Most of us, who have visited Jerusalem, have walked a trail down to the southeast corner of the Temple. The trail at Jesus’ time would have been about a football field length to the north, and entered the Temple mount through the “Eastern Gate.” In the late Middle Ages, the Turks blocked that gate and built a Muslim cemetery in fount of it to keep “Messiah” from entering there as is prophesied about His return. I am certainly convinced a few 700-year-old bricks will not prevent Him from fulfilling prophecy.
As the Galileans advance toward Jerusalem for their annual Passover pilgrimage, they see Jesus in the crowd. Jesus had His disciples bring Him a donkey with a colt to ride into the city. Most kings or persons of importance would ride a charger or quarter horse, usually white or gray in color into a city to show their importance. But Jesus comes in on a donkey. This is more or less like the President not arriving in a large shiny new stretch limo, but rather a dirty worn out V6 mini-pickup with limbs and grass clippings in the back. Jesus, on this entrance thru the Eastern Gate, came as a lowly peasant, on a workman’s donkey. King of Kings, yes, but coming humbly, ready to die, not conquer. When He returns, at the end of time, He will do so on a white charger (Rev 19).
As the crowds see Jesus, they see Him as their hope for the future. For many that was the hope of a better economic situation. After all, He fed 5,000 with 5 biscuits and 2 sardines. Others thought in terms of health and happiness. After all, He can heal all diseases. Others thought in terms of conquering Rome and Judea becoming the center of the world. After all, taxes and regulations were hard. Yet others cheered on the “champion of God’s salvation.” Messiah had arrived. Yet even His disciples did not grasp the truth of His mission this time around. He came to seal their salvation through His blood.
As they came, they sang “Hosanna” a shout and a prayer meaning “save us.” They correctly call Him “Son of David,” and “The blessed one coming in the Name of the Lord.” Then they continue by singing “Hosanna in the Highest” meaning “God on high save us!”
As the crowd advances toward Jerusalem, coats are placed on the ground as a means of respect for the rider on the donkey. Some men were cutting palm branches, some to be strewn along the road, others to be waved as a sign of victory for the one riding the donkey.
As Jesus enters the Temple, the people at the Temple want to know what the commotion is all about. The crowd entering cries “This is the Prophet Jesus of Galilee.” Everyone knows who He is.
As Jesus began to heal and teach in the Temple courts, children continued the palm waving and singing “Hosanna to the Son of David.” The Priest and scribes came to Him. They were very unhappy about His commotion, but even more upset about what the children were singing about Jesus. They had already rejected Jesus, for He was a threat to their very lucrative and powerful career in the Temple. They could not take that.
So, they ask Jesus if He realizes what these children are singing. They are claiming Jesus is the Messiah or Christ. He acknowledges their message as the Truth. The Gospel of Luke (19:40) tells us that Jesus said if the crowds were quiet at this time, then the “rocks would cry out” with praise.
As Jesus enters the Temple for this Passover, He knowingly acknowledges who the crowd say He is. He is the Son of David, the King, the one who has come to “save” His people. But even His disciples did not realize how He would save them. By Passover, during the very hours that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed, He would die on the cross to save the whole world from sin.
So now the fifty-million-dollar question: Where are you with Jesus? Who is He to you? Are you like the Priests and Scribes, who viewed Him as a threat to their living as they wanted? Or like some of the members of the crowd, who followed, “cause everyone else was doing it,” or because there may be a free meal or miracle for following? Or do you follow genuinely as one who seeks the salvation from sins that He offers?
He came on a donkey to save us from our sins the first time. He will come again next time on a white charger to obliterate all His foes and set up a perfect kingdom of righteousness. Will you be in that Kingdom?
Hallelujah let us close in prayer.
CH Jim Odell