Sorry for the slight inconsistency in my posting recently. School’s been getting crazy as Easter Break approaches—but break is next week, so I’ll hopefully return to my regular blog scheduling then (i.e. new posts on Sundays and Wednesdays).
This is admittedly a couple days late, but I wanted to take some time to think about Palm Sunday. Typically, this special day is eclipsed by Good Friday and Easter and becomes little more than an opportunity for us to see our kids waving palm branches and being cute in front of church.
But Palm Sunday is about so much more than that.
Close your eyes (metaphorically; otherwise you could not keep reading what I want you to imagine) and picture yourself as a Jew in Jesus’ time. You probably spend most of your waking hours toiling to provide for your family and pay heavy taxes, barely subsisting. For about four centuries, your people have been ruled by various world powers who oppressed you more or less, usually more. And though your oppression angers you and you hate your oppressors, some part of you knows you deserve it. Because you and your kinsmen, your countrymen, forsook your God, and this is your just reward.
So you do your best to obey the Law He gave you through Moses, and you cling to the same hope your people have held since they first were cast out of their land. The hope that help is coming.
The prophets spoke of a Messiah, an Anointed One—a king—who was coming, a descendent of David, the king who was a man after God’s own heart. This Messiah will come and rule in righteousness and defeat his every enemy.
Then, a week before Passover—that Feast that commemorates the Lord’s deliverance of your people from slavery in Egypt—you see Jesus. Many call Him a prophet; every tongue speaks of His miraculous deeds and bold message—you yourself may even have witnessed Him do a miracle or preach. He and his disciples are approaching Jerusalem. And He’s riding on a donkey.
If you are any sort of good Jew, instantly Zechariah 9:9 comes to mind:
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
This passage speaks of that Messiah’s coming, and you and everyone around you knows Jesus of Nazareth is making a bold statement: He is Israel’s righteous king.
Another passage comes to your mind, a Psalm depicting the entrance of an ancient king into Jerusalem after victory in battle, going to the Temple with the people to sacrifice to the Lord.
Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give thanks, for You answered me;
You have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
The Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O Lord, save us;
O Lord, grant us success.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
So you join the crowd in recreating that scene. You follow Jesus to the Temple, crying aloud, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”—our promised king has come and will save us; “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”—our king has won victory over his foes and goes to celebrate before the Lord with us.
This much is clear: Your bondage is over; your king has arrived.
The King is here.
Jesus, the promised king, has come. He came to lade the nations in righteousness and to bring them salvation.
On Friday and Sunday, we celebrate that He accomplished just that. But for now, let’s take a moment to dwell in this:
Our king came. He defeated the real enemies: sin, death, all the consequences of the Fall.
And someday soon, He is coming again to finish His work and fully establish His kingdom.
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You;
We turn to You.
Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You;
We long for You.
When we see You we find strength to face the day.
In Your presence all our fears are washed away, washed away!
You are the God who saves us, worthy of all our praises.
Come have Your way among us!
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus.
Hear the sound of hearts returning to You;
We turn to You.
In Your kingdom, broken lives are made new;
You make all things new.
~Brenton Brown, “Hosanna”