By the time Jesus would enter Jerusalem triumphantly on Palm Sunday, the number of his followers had grown, causing dismay, dread, and discouragement among the Pharisees. Their concern over Jesus’ popularity had developed during the three years of Jesus’ ministry. Distraught over Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath, the Pharisees questioned him when he healed a man’s hand (Mark 3:1-6), or allowed the disciples to eat kernels of grain (Luke 6:1-5). Furthermore, when Jesus drove demons out of people who endured the scourge of demon possession, the Pharisees accused him of being under the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22-24). Jesus had exposed the religious leaders’ motives, blasphemy, hypocrisy, and love of money. Therefore, they felt the sooner they got rid of the King, the better.
The Palm Sunday celebration served to heighten that desire even more. As they watched the people spread their cloaks on the road and wave their palm branches, they were livid. The people cried out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38). The Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke his disciples, and he replied, “…“if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).
Trying to imagine what Jesus thought during that donkey ride into Jerusalem is difficult, to say the least. Jesus knew, without a doubt, that his time was near. What were his inner thoughts? Did he enjoy the adulation? Surely not. On the other hand, perhaps he felt a certain amount of pride over the fact that he had acquired such a following. That’s what we humans would think, right? Not so for Jesus. He was humble. He was God in the flesh. He had accomplished his assignment. Perhaps, he thought about his reunion with the Father.
Still, he dreaded what had to come on Friday in order for that to happen.
We humans cannot even begin to imagine placing ourselves on the cross to die, after the flogging, the beating, the spittle, the blood, the agony, the crown of thorns. Yet, that’s exactly what he did for us. Jesus chose the nails, and the only way to thank Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins is to confront our sin daily and go to the cross in confession.
As we awaken on Palm Sunday, let us celebrate as Jesus’ followers celebrated. Let us adore him and sing Hosanna!
Hosanna in the highest
Let our King be lifted up