(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column of those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Augusta Press.)
The Sunday we call Palm Sunday is the day when we commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week which would culminate in His death, burial and resurrection. Palm Sunday begins a week that prophecy had been predicting for centuries. It was a week filled with astounding events which had been put into place by God Himself. The life of Jesus, his 33 years, had been lived and His purpose fulfilled, except for the events of the week which began with Palm Sunday. Everything that had happened with Him was very important, but the crux of his time on earth was to be realized beginning with His entrance into Jerusalem the Sunday before his crucifixion and only one week before His resurrection. So, the weight of all time rested on what would happen with Jesus in this one week out of the history of the whole world. Obviously, the people were not on the proper wave length on this day. They simply missed the profound significance of the day in which they were living. They expected Him to become a famous political leader and free them from the Romans. His purpose was much, much more profound than that!
Jesus did what He did on Palm Sunday for the single purpose of fulfilling prophecy. He knew what the people were thinking. He knew they had it all misread. He knew that many were not really committed to Him. So, Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in order to be a popular hero in a large supportive crowd. He did what He did in order that the prophecy in God’s Word would be fulfilled. He also knew that this was the week that prophecy had spoken about for centuries.
The true purpose of Jesus’ coming was not to rule over an earthly, political empire. The people had it wrong. They did not see His true purpose which was to seek and save the lost; to provide a sacrifice; to make salvation possible. When He came they missed the reason for His coming. Men are still missing the point today. How fickle a crowd is: They loved Him on Sunday and by Friday, many of them crucified Him and walked away shaking their heads. We are very much like they were. People of today still want someone who will make everything all right. But salvation is NOT just having Jesus make everything o.k. for us. It is having Him reign in your hearts and minds.
People primarily want a Jesus they can cling to in popular moments. They desire a Jesus that they can get excited about when they desire Him to do something wonderful for them. Their faith in Jesus is based on their expectations of what He can do and not based on who He is and the salvation He provides. That’s exactly what the people of Palm Sunday thought about Him. They felt good about Jesus and they also felt good about being with Him. But, we must remember this: how Jesus feels about ME is infinitely more important than how I feel about what I think my relationship to Him might be. If we have more that just a Palm Sunday attitude and commitment to Jesus then He will be able to be much more involved in our lives. And Jesus knew what was going on. He knew that the people of Jerusalem would miss the import of the whole week that Palm Sunday started. That’s why he cried over Jerusalem. He knew who He was. He knew what they were going to do and He knew that destruction would come because He would ultimately be rejected.
The Palm Sunday mindset is very fickle, it lasts for less than a week. Emotions run high with a Palm Sunday mindset. “Bring Jesus to town and we will let the world know we love Him.” But when the enthusiasm drains away, when the excitement is over; when the energy of a popular moment is gone, it is most often replaced with a weak complacency which is drained of its power. Palm Sunday mentality will get you to worship one Sunday but not the next. It will make you “shout from the roof tops” for a while and then grow silent. My concern is that too many Christians of today think having a spurt of Palm Sunday mentality is enough to please God with our relationship to Jesus. Won’t work. That attitude won’t suffice.
No matter how one feels about Jesus we must remember that by the next Sunday they found out the truth about Him. Easter Sunday the most glorious thing that ever happened on earth took place; His resurrection. And it is because of the resurrection of Jesus that any of us have hope and assurance of eternal life. But the events on Palm Sunday started the whole process in the last week of His earthly life and of His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection for you, me and all those who trust in Him.
Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com