Apr 10, 2014

The Irony of Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  Matthew 21:9

Good Friday:
“Crucify, Crucify Him”  Luke 23:21

From the same mouths.  Six days apart.  A stark contrast.  That’s the irony of Palm Sunday.  The same people who praised him that Sunday for being the “Son of David” would be demanding his execution later that week for blasphemy.

Here’s a few things that I’ve reflected upon as I’ve thought about the irony of Palm Sunday seen in the change of attitude of the crowd present that day and also the day of his crucifixion. 

We need Jesus for who he is and not who we want him to be.

All of what Jesus says is important and all of what Jesus does is important.

There are many things that the crowd loved about Jesus.  He healed people, fed people, cared for people, loved people, and he stood up to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Many of them loved Jesus for these things and believed that he was the long expected Messiah who would deliver them and make them a great kingdom on earth.  They assumed it, they expected it, they dreamed of it.

However, what they were about to discover is that Jesus will not be molded by our expectations, our assumptions, our dreams, and our desires of him.  The crowd heralded him as a king.  A king he was and is, but not their kind of king.   He would not be starting a war like they wanted, he would not be leading a revolution like they wanted, he would not be wearing a crown...at least not a golden one like they wanted.  He had something different in mind and the expectations, assumptions, and demands of the crowd would not move him off his course.

Don’t put Jesus in your box, into your expectations, assumptions, and demands.  You will be disappointed if you do, for he will not change and conform to you.  Listen to his words, look at his actions.  Examine all of him.  Follow him and worship him for the whole person and God that he is.  Worship him for all of who he is, not just for part of who he is.  We need Jesus for his kindness, compassion, and healing, but we also need him for who he is revealed in statements that are hard to follow such as, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me”

The world will treat you the same way. 

The approval of the crowd is fickle.  So long as one is giving them what they want, they will parade, praise, and applaud you.  But if you are a follower of Jesus eventually there will be a collision between giving God what he wants and giving the world what she wants.   The world often offers much praise for people who serve Jesus especially when they are loving the world like Jesus did.  But, eventually the heavenly world and the earthly world will collide and we'll be in the middle of it. The same people that praise you will one day curse you.  Be cool, be hipster, be relevant, be organic, be “unchurchy,” be progressive, or be whatever you want to be...but don’t run from the fact the world hated Jesus and if you confess him as your Lord, eventually they will hate you too.
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Please take the approval and acceptance of the crowd only with a grain of salt.  Don’t put much stock in it.  Don’t find too much value and worth in it.  It is fleeting.  It is hallow.  It costs you too much and you will always come up short.  Consider Jesus though.  He requires nothing.  He accepts you as you are.  He bestows his value and worth on you.  Please, love the people of this world like Jesus did, do everything you can to give to them what Jesus call us to, but don’t shrink back from telling them the truth about Jesus because they might not like it.  They didn't like him either eventually.  But that was okay to him because Jesus came to save them not to appease them.

Palm Sunday was great, but Good Friday was better.

Palm Sunday was that day, and still is today, a great day of celebration.  Jesus was given the entrance of a king.  Likely, this Sunday your church will do the same.  Children will wave palm branches, the choir will sing loud, and all together we will celebrate our King singing, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

But if Jesus had given the crowd what they demanded that Palm Sunday he would have never been able to give them what they deeply needed that Friday.  He was crucified because we needed a king who would fight the war with sin and death, lead a revolution of freedom from sin, and wear a crown of thorns.  We needed a king who was willing to be mocked, beaten, spat upon, and cursed for our sake.  We needed a king who would be rejected by the world and abandoned by his Father while he bore our sin and shame and faced the wrath of God.  His rejection by the world and his Father meant my acceptance. 

Palm Sunday was neat, but Friday was Good.

The Irony.

Palm Sunday the crowd shouted “Hosanna.”  Hosanna means, “Save!” or “Save, I Pray.”  By Friday they were shouting “Crucify Him.”  Here’s the irony.  What they demanded on that Friday actually gave them what they demanded on that previous Sunday.  

They asked for him to “save” on Palm Sunday...and that Friday afternoon, that’s what he did.  His crucifixion gave us salvation.