Today we join in as Jesus travels from Bethany to Jerusalem just two short miles away. Jesus has a crowd following Him that had gathered the night before to see both Jesus and Lazarus. Entering Jerusalem with a crowd of followers and disciples, Jesus was further surrounded by a crowd already gathered in the city for the festival of the Passover. The scene that follows is one that Christians have heard often – maybe too often. You see, we become complacent when the story becomes too familiar, too stale. So today, allow your childhood imagination to take you to the scene. Enjoy it in living color, in surround sound, in 3-D, in odor vision (although beware, animals and crowds of people are both smelly). John 12:12-19
12-15 The next day the huge crowd that had arrived for the Feast heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem. They broke off palm branches and went out to meet him. And they cheered: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Yes! The King of Israel!
Jesus got a young donkey and rode it, just as the Scripture has it:
No fear, Daughter Zion:
See how your king comes,
riding a donkey’s colt.
16 The disciples didn’t notice the fulfillment of many Scriptures at the time, but after Jesus was glorified, they remembered that what was written about him matched what was done to him. 17-19 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, was there giving eyewitness accounts. It was because they had spread the word of this latest God-sign that the crowd swelled to a welcoming parade. The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: “It’s out of control. The world’s in a stampede after him.”
For a brief moment, the crowds of Jerusalem honored their King. Covering the road in a royal carpet of palm branches and cloaks (coats), the multitudes shouted messianic praises to their one and only King of kings. And, you know what? Jesus didn’t stop them. In fact, when the anxious religious leaders told Jesus to rebuke His fans, he replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:39-40)
In just a few days, the crowds would change their shouts of “Hosanna!” to ones of “Crucify Him!” Yet, even though Jesus knew this shift would come, He still showed up for the parade in His honor. Jesus did not let the rejection of tomorrow cause Him to reject the love of today.
That brings us to today’s fast – we are to fast from spectatorship. The whole celebration on what we now call Palm Sunday was too out of control, too wild. The religious leaders refused to join in and sacrificed joy to something they deemed greater – be that propriety, suspicion or even jealously. I wonder what my reaction would have been. Would I have joined in the praise session or would I have faded into the background as a spectator instead of a participant? I’m not one to jump right in to a situation without careful consideration. Today, we’re to fast from spiritual spectatorship. Enter into worship. When considerations start turning into hesitations about something Jesus is clearly at the center of, throw hyper-caution to the wind and celebrate Jesus with abandon.
As an end note…..after I had this all typed out I went to look for an image to include. What I discovered is all the images aimed at adults seemed to portray a neat and orderly celebration – like the religious leaders wanted. Only in the children’s illustrations do we find a tiny bit of the joyous chaos. So enjoy a little childlike, chaotic faith today.