Tuesday, April 9, 2019

What they waved, what He rode, the word they shouted, and why it matters

"They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, 'Hosanna to David’s son! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Hosanna in highest heaven!'" (Matthew 21:6-9 The Message).

Between today and Easter is Holy Week, the beginning of which is signaled by Palm Sunday, the traditional celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Sometimes, we lose touch with the why of our spiritual observances. A few things to think about this week: 

The palms are symbolic of victory. The disciples and others gathered as Jesus entered Jerusalem indicated their belief in him as a coming king by casting their garments and palm fronds before him as was done in that culture before a dignitary. Perhaps Jews recalled the stories of Solomon’s coronation happening in much the same way (I Kings 1). Palm Sunday is only a foretaste of that great day described in Revelation 7:9-10 when there will be more palm waving. “They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.’”  

The donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem was no accidental find.

Far from it. The donkey was a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, “See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey . . .” One scholar, Alan Rudnick, puts it this way, “This donkey was born for Jesus’ wonderful work. It had not been used or ridden by anyone else.”

My friend Pat's donkey, Farley. Note the cross on his back. The legend being Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, and later the donkey followed him to the cross, its shadow falling on his back.

 About this business of untying the donkey mentioned several times in Luke 19:3-33, Rudnick continues, “As Christians, we need to be untied from what weighs us down. Palm Sunday is not just a celebration of Christ as King, but a celebration of Jesus as our liberator from dependencies and afflictions.” Untying the donkey points to why Jesus came―to untie us from sin, and all that would keep us from living for Him and with Him.

Hosanna comes from two Hebrew words meaning, “Save now.” The Jews of that time expected a King to deliver them from Roman tyranny. Of course, Jesus had eternity in mind―a spiritual deliverance. In days, the ringing Hosannas faded, as Jesus’ followers scattered to the wind and Jesus' work of saving us took place on the cross.

On Palm Sunday, we may experience the sweet scene of palms carried down our church aisles by children and sing with joy the strains of Hosanna, Loud Hosanna. However, I catch myself holding my breath. I know what’s coming. I know in the days ahead, I’m going to read again the story of Jesus’ sacrifice, the scourging, the burden of the cross, and picture in my mind the nail scarred hands. I remember he knew it was coming too, and yet he made the choice to continue.
For me.
For you.
That my friends, is why we do what we do, why we remember. The donkey, the palms, and the Hosannas led the way for us to be saved, untied, and liberated by the One who set this plan in motion from the foundation of the world.
Sources for this post: 



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Faith in the Fashion District by Beverly Varnado


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