Passion Week: Palm Sunday
Just outside the ancient city of Jerusalem, a small band of shabby characters are making their way toward the city. Among them, a man named Bartimaeus. For years he spent his days at the gates of Jericho as a blind beggar seeking spare change from those who would give. Until yesterday. Yesterday he was healed of his blindness and today he is eagerly following the sage who granted him this gift of sight. Sadly, these new and perfect eyes, that today allow him to see the vibrant beauty of the world, will soon show him the contrasting horrors of life as he will watch the man who healed him being tortured to death.
That man now walks with a quiet intensity while the rest surround him like the entourage of a boxer approaching the ring. The men are excited as they fully expect their leader to establish himself as the Messiah and overthrow Israel’s Roman oppressors. Little do they know their leader has all but given up on trying to explain to them that the Messiah is to be a sacrifice rather than a conqueror. Jesus is fully aware that He is now living the final days of His life and He is approaching them with courage and dread.
As He reaches a point that He can overlook the city, He begins to weep, lamenting that the people failed to recognize the day of their Savior’s coming, an event that was predicted to the day by the Prophet Daniel.
As He and His disciples are approaching the town, Jesus sends some of them ahead to find a donkey colt, one that had never been ridden. The disciples locate the colt and bring it to Jesus where He then rides it into the city. As Jesus is entering, His followers begin to take their cloaks as well as palm branches and lay them on the ground in front of the donkey. The people cheered as their king arrived, having no idea that within five days they would be calling for His execution.
I wonder if Jesus thought about this as He was coming into town? He said that if these people had not cheered, then even the rocks and trees would have cried out in worship of Him. The people had grand plans for how Jesus was going to save them from the Roman Empire, and as usual, God had something bigger in mind.
Jesus enters the temple
After the procession, Jesus went to the temple. Upon His arrival to this holy place, He finds people using the worship of God as a means to make money. This obviously upset Jesus as we will see in His actions tomorrow. In the midst of this commotion, Jesus chooses to remain silent, He instead slips away for the night.
I wonder what Jesus must have thought that night. He had just experienced people cheering for Him, people that He knew had no idea why He was there and people that He knew would want Him dead in just a few days. He then walks into the Holy temple and sees what He later calls "a den of thieves," making a mockery out of the worship of His Father. With the scene of the money changers replaying in His mind, I wonder if His heart began to swell with a burning intensity as He sat quietly that night weaving the whip He will use tomorrow to drive those thieves out of His Father's House? I can't imagine the hurt, the mockery He felt was taking place in the name of God. I imagine He will not sleep well tonight.
It is my prayer that tonight as you lay down to bed, that you ponder what He may have been thinking that first Palm Sunday. It is my prayer that this week, more than any other, we really take time to appreciate what Jesus did all those years ago.
Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44 and John 12:12-19