It was an incredible day. Although it was many years ago I can almost picture myself back there amongst the crowd. I have told the story so many times before that my place in it is familiar at this point. It doesn’t even take much effort for my imagination to take me back there. As soon as the scriptures begin to be read again each Palm Sunday I am back there in Jerusalem. Stories about this man named Jesus have been trending around town for some time now. Some say he is the Messiah since he has been healing people, teaching, and turning the world upside down. Others find him to be a threat. Since he is urging people to place God first in their lives rather than the government or worldly leaders, many people want to get rid of him. Anything they can do to stop people from listening to his message could happen. Rumors around town have even talked about plots to kill this man named Jesus just from the fear that he may take away authority from those with privilege.
I have not yet had the chance to hear him speak in public, but I have heard he draws large crowds. People come to be healed by Jesus, to hear a word of hope, and to learn about a new way of living that brings justice to those on the margins. And a lot of us living in Jerusalem are on the margins and struggle everyday to find our place in this world. Yet Jesus has been lifting us up and helping people to see that everyone is important and beloved in the eyes of God. I think today I am finally going to get the chance to see him and hear his message in person. With Passover coming, I heard that Jesus is following the Jewish custom to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This could finally be my chance to see Jesus in person and hear his message of hope.
The crowd seems to be building on the road towards town. People are gathering from surrounding villages as the word spreads that Jesus is on his way. But there are not just people that want to hear a word of hope and healing. There are also some people that feel threatened by Jesus. They are worried that his offer of justice will take away their authority. Since Jesus claims his authority is from God, they feel that it will take away their authority they gain from the world. Some people are saying things that mock Jesus and try to humiliate him. Accusations about him make some of the political and religious leaders nervous. I just overheard someone say that when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem he will be arrested and put on trial. It is hard not to notice the tension in the crowd. Some are filled with excitement and joy, others with anger and rage. Everyone with their focus off in the distance, anticipating his arrival.
Suddenly people start passing out palm branches they have brought from a nearby field. I know this is a sign of victory and peace but it seems to be foreshadowing something more to come. People begin to cheer and wave their palm branches while far off in the distance I can see something coming this way.
The road into town is rocky and dusty and crowds are pressing in on this narrow path. There are so many people here it is hard to count them all. Shouts of “Hosanna, Hosanna!” slowly make their way along the path as the procession slowly comes closer. People begin to lay their palm branches on the path as if to make a ceremonial path for a king. I finally get a
glimpse of someone riding on a donkey coming up the path. Could this be Jesus? With the shouts of praise and palm branches falling around him, it must be. As he passes by, it seems that he looks everyone in the eye. I have never felt more loved. It seems as though when he looks at me, he knows my heart, knows my soul, and knows my whole life. I am just a simple person. I have not been the best person I could be and I am a sinner! Yet I have never felt so much love. I am so glad I took time to see Jesus today. I hope I have a chance to hear him speak this week while he is in town.
I wasn’t there to personally see Jesus enter Jerusalem on that first Holy Week, but I imagine this is what it would have been like from one person’s perspective. As we journey through Holy Week this year, we have many opportunities to turn our eyes upon Jesus as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and Savior and Redeemer of all. There will be worship services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at 7:00 p.m. And of course we will gather to celebrate and worship together Easter Morning beginning with a sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. followed by our regularly scheduled Traditional and Lighthouse services. I pray that this Holy Week you all take the time to turn to Jesus and show up for a glimpse at Christ. There is no other way in this life to feel complete love and salvation!
With peace and love,