Week 16: Day 1 - Sunday (April 14, 2019)
Lent - Week 6
Entry into Jerusalem
1 When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave two disciples a task. 2 He said to them, “Go into the village over there. As soon as you enter, you will find a donkey tied up and a colt with it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anybody says anything to you, say that the Lord needs it.” He sent them off right away. 4 Now this happened to fulfill what the prophet said, 5 Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your king is coming to you, humble and riding on a donkey, and on a colt the donkey’s offspring.” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had ordered them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their clothes on them. Then he sat on them.
8 Now a large crowd spread their clothes on the road. Others cut palm branches off the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds in front of him and behind him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up. “Who is this?” they asked. 11 The crowds answered, “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
What are you celebrating right now? What might be holding you back from celebrating? What do you long for?
We sing it as an act of praise. We sing it with exuberance. We sing it with celebration. Even though we sometimes sing it joyfully, Hosanna is not the happiest of words. It is a Hebrew word meaning, “Save, now!” It is a prayer of desperation, a cry for help.
The crowd of Palm Sunday represents the height of the excitement over who Jesus was on earth, and hints at the possibility of what his kingdom might bring. Those who gathered along the sides of the road that day longed for a Savior. There was so much in the world from which they needed redemption and peace; it was an urgent plea for their very lives. This is what Palm Sunday is all about. A people’s deep longing for something more. It is a story rich with drama and full of spirit, the perfect text to usher us into this Holy Week.
The story of the triumphal entry is one of contrasts, and those contrasts contain applications to believers. It is the story of the King who came as a lowly servant on a donkey, not a prancing steed, not in royal robes, but on the clothes of the poor and humble. Jesus Christ comes not to conquer by force as earthly kings but by love, grace, mercy, and His own sacrifice for His people. His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor but of lowliness and servanthood. He conquers not nations but hearts and minds. His message is one of peace with God, not of temporal peace.
I wonder about the people who flanked the sidewalks in Jerusalem on that day. Given the political climate, people may have even feared doing so. But, they lined the street anyway. Maybe they knew that no matter how they felt or what they wanted, Jesus comes to bring something true—something better than the nightmare in which they lived.
But, when Jesus does not meet their expectations, their desperate cries of “Hosanna” quickly turn into furious cries of “Crucify him!”
Yet, in the irony that is his crucifixion, Jesus still answers their prayer: “Lord, save now!” He draws the whole world to himself. By his suffering and death, Jesus becomes the author of eternal salvation for all who put their trust in him. Jesus still brings about a more perfect and complete salvation and inaugurates the true Kingdom of God even when humanity sinks to its greatest evil.
If your sweet Hosannas are ringing from a place of exuberance and celebration, then indeed, praise God for it! But, if your Hosannas come from a place of desperation, then take heart! The Lord hears your prayer and does not forget you. For all of us, no matter where we are on our faith journeys on this Palm Sunday, Jesus Christ is hearing our Hosannas and is saving us.
Matthew highlights for us the irony implicit in Jesus’ last pilgrimage to the holy city. The Son of David enters David’s city, but the only throne he finds is a cross. The city that should have welcomed him with its fullest homage refused to accept its gentle king.
And yet, with this knowledge we still dare to praise him and lift him up above all others. We share in the hope of the people gathered that day long ago, because we are those people, too.
Engaging The Word:
1. Jesus seems to enter Jerusalem in a somewhat unusual way, yet all of the bystanders seem to know exactly what’s going on. Why do you think this is?
2. What is the significance of riding in on a donkey?
1. We sing, during communion each week, “Hosanna in the highest.” What are your thoughts when we sing these words.
2. Have you ever cried out “Hosanna” - Lord, save me? If you feel comfortable, please share your story.
3. Who might me crying out “Hosanna” in our community? How can we help?
4. How can we fully worship this week? A week that starts with “Hosanna” and ends with “Crucify him!”.
5. What changes need to take place in my life, or faith, to fully accept the redemption of Jesus?
Palm Sunday reminds us that the reign of Christ is far greater than any the mind of man could ever conceive or plan. What big prayer do you hold onto today? What makes you cry out “Hosanna”?What desperately needs to change in your life to move closer to God? Give that prayer to God, and share with your group when you see God move in mighty, unexpected ways.
Lord, we come with praise, we come in desperation. Where ever we may be, you are there. You are ‘God with us’ and our redeemer. Move in my life in unexpected ways. Ways in which I can’t yet see. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
2) Respond to a question above.