As much as I love to travel and meet new people, I love coming home to my church family. Six weeks ago I went downhill skiing in Utah with my brother and my friend. We had so much fun tearing up the slopes and spending time with friends in the evening. But walking into the parish hall for a pancake dinner before even going home was wonderful–I was home and the flock welcomed me back into the fold. Everyone was so happy to see me in one piece and wanted to hear all about my trip.
The excitement of welcoming someone back into the fold is what Palm Sunday is all about. “Hosanna in the highest!” yells the crowd, meaning “please save us.” What a joyous entrance Jesus has in Jerusalem.
I always used to find it confusing that Jesus could get a joyous welcome when he arrived in Jerusalem, and then have a crowd shouting to have him crucified only a few days later. Now I realize there are two crowds: 1) with Jesus and 2) against Jesus.
I can relate: some people enjoy my company while others think I have no place in the world. The people who enjoy my company are the ones who lift up my gifts, like the crowd shouting, “Hosanna in the highest.” They believe in my mission in the world, and they listen to what I have to say. On the other hand, others do not understand where I fit in the world or how what I have to say matters. I find it frustrating to work with these individuals because they only see one way of doing things and are close-minded–I do not fit in their box.
Jesus sends two disciples into a village to get the donkey for him to ride into Jerusalem. The crowd with Jesus leads him into Jerusalem by throwing down their cloaks and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9, NRSV). The crowd with Jesus is excited to see his entry into Jerusalem, just as my church friends welcome me home. Their king is entering their city and has come to set them free.
The crowd against Jesus is asking, “Who is this guy?” These individuals do not know who Jesus is, where he came from, or why he is in Jerusalem. Then when the crowd with Jesus calls him the Son of David, a king, and the one who comes in the name of the Lord, those against Jesus hear blasphemy. Jesus’ claims go against all of their teachings and beliefs. Over the coming week, the crowd against Jesus in Jerusalem will spread rumors about Jesus in order to protect what these individuals believe to be true. In the coming week, we will learn why the crowd against Jesus killed him (Jacobson, et al. 2011).
The world can be a cruel place–full of injustice, discrimination, inequality, and bitterness. I fight these issues on a daily basis. During my stay in St. Paul, Minnesota, a bus driver made a fuss about having to do his job and tie my electric wheelchair down. The bus ride was the most humiliating experience in my life. The bus driver made me feel like an inconvenience–a waste of time and space. I can only imagine how Jesus feels, riding through an exciting, supportive crowd, but knowing he will be killed within a week. What are his thoughts as he rides into Jerusalem?
As a Christian, you have the challenge of watching Holy Week unfold. Why would a lovely Father send his only begotten Son to experience rejection, betrayal, and a painful death? Why does God allow people to work against us? Stick with me as we journey together with Jesus this week.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for letting us greet Jesus in Jerusalem. Help us to share in the enthusiasm of the crowd with Jesus and not jump right to Good Friday and Easter. Remind us of the excitement of Jesus riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. Thank you for your glory, love, and peace. Amen.
Jacobson, Rolf, Karoline Lewis, David Lose, and Matt Skinner. “Brainwave 170: Lectionary Texts for the 17th of April 2011.” Working Preacher. St Paul, March 10, 2011.
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
- What does it mean to acknowledge Jesus as a King with Hosanna?
- Who would throw a party in your honor? Why?
- Who does not want you around? Why?