We emphasize Jesus’ final week on earth, the beginning of which is heralded by Palm Sunday, a time of great celebration before the typically dour Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Cultivate joy as we welcome Jesus.
Palm Sunday marks the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus knew that his entrance would be the last time entering the capital city before his arrest and crucifixion. Jesus’ highly public entrance into Jerusalem encouraged his supporters, who recognized in Jesus a man of promise and hope. The word on the street was that the crowds who adored Jesus knew him as the populist prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. Perhaps he was even the Messiah!
Neither the Jewish nor the Roman authorities looked favorably upon the publicity and support Jesus garnered. From their perspective, the sentiments from the Jerusalem crowds could lead to riots against the authorities and perhaps a revolution. Jesus’ supporters could have destabilized the political situation and prompted a military intervention from the Romans (which eventually happened just a few decades after Jesus’ death).
The biblical text does not suggest that Jesus’ actions were designed to cause political instability. Think what might have happened if such a thing occurred. What if Jesus had leveraged his popularity to initiate insurrection against either the Jewish priestly oligarchy, the Romans, or both? That scenario never transpired, because Jesus was focused on other issues. Rather than assume the role of insurrectionist leader, Jesus presented himself as the spiritual King of the Jews. It is likely that some folks felt betrayed that Jesus didn’t leverage his power and authority. Perhaps this is why the crowds later seemed to have abandoned Jesus during his trial and execution.
Fast-forward nearly two-thousand years and Jesus continues to make entrances. Jesus the Christ indwells hearts and minds of spiritually-awakened individuals. Today, it’s not about a triumphal entry into Jerusalem as much as it is a spiritual entry into the lives of those who embrace God’s love and truth. Are you on such a spiritual journey? Is God the guiding force in your life and are you joyful about your faith? As you prepare for Easter, yearn for God’s Spirit to fill you with meaning and hope. –Reverend Larry Hoxey