“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’” John 12:12-13
Palm Sunday – The day Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On this first day of the Holy Week of Passover, He was greeted with a royal carpet of palm branches and cheers of adoration. “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” they shouted, hailing Him as the promised Messiah. Little did they know this was the last week of His life (but not really). They could not have known that in just five short days their cries of hope-filled adoration would be replaced with the hate-filled chant, “Crucify Him!”
The adoration of these Jesus fans was built on their own ideas and expectations, instead of on the truth of God’s Word. Oh they were ready for a King all right; but they wanted one who would overthrow Rome and set them free once again. The stories of old likely filled their minds as they imagined horrible plagues and seas split down the middle. An exodus of epic proportion was once again in order, if you asked them. God had done it before to free their ancestors from Egyptian rule, so why not now? Oh yes, Hosanna! Blessed is anyone who comes in the name of the Lord…especially if it means overthrowing Rome!
It is dangerous to attempt to worship Christ on our own terms. Looking back on that first Palm Sunday now is unsettling. Their shouts ring hollow and empty in our ears on this side of the cross. While prophetic, it is also sad. How could they have been so blind? How could their hearts have turned so easily when Jesus didn’t meet their ideas and expectations? But perhaps the most unsettling question is, “Are we any different? Am I any different?” Just this past week I read a post on Facebook by a young man who asked, “How do we forgive God for not being the God we want Him to be?” I suspect many have realized that God does fit neatly into the little worlds we are attempting to build for ourselves…we must instead be transformed to belong to His Kingdom.
If I am willing to sit quietly and just listen, I will hear my own voice in the Palm Sunday crowd. I, too, bring my own flawed expectations to the only Wise King, hailing His praise until He disappoints me by refusing to bend to my shortsighted ideas. Then my praise, too, takes an unexpected turn towards darkness. Had I been there that day, I too would have gone from shouting, “Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him!” in no time flat. I might have denied Him three times before the rooster crowed. I might have even been the one who betrayed Him with a kiss.
Blessed indeed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. How much higher and better are His plans than our own? Hosanna came to save – starting with us sinners waving palm branches.
Father, Thank You for Hosanna, our help and salvation. Please help me to worship You in Spirit and in truth, not based on my ideas but on Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.