I debated whether or not to write this post, but I decided that I should, because it’s something that I feel pretty strongly about.
I don’t like celebrating Palm Sunday.
I love Easter, and all that it represents, but celebrating Palm Sunday rubs me the wrong way, and I’ll tell you why. But first, let’s examine the very first Palm Sunday.
“The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus at on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut brances from the trees and spread them on the road. The crows that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’
‘Hosanna in the highest!'” Matthew 21:6-9
Now at first glance, this does seem to be a magnificent celebration. After all, Jesus was exalted, and praised for who he was as the savior of Israel. And I have no problem with that.
However, how many times have you heard that these same people that shouted “Hosanna” were the ones yelling “Crucify him!” a few days later? And I certainly don’t want to be anything like that crowd. So how is it that the people who were singing God’s praises turned against him in less than a week? I think the answer is in what happened right after this scene.
“As [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:41-44
Did you catch that part at the end? The Israelites did not recognize that God had come! You would think they had, based on their reaction to him riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. But the truth is, they wanted to blame their struggles on the oppression of Roman Empire. They didn’t want to recognize their own sinfulness as their biggest problem. They wanted a warrior, not a suffering servant. So when Jesus didn’t turn out to be who they thought, they screamed for his blood, just like the spectators at a gladiator fight.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be guilty of being a “Palm Sunday” Christian. I don’t want to go to church on Easter and not let that message change how I live the rest of the year. And I certainly don’t want to blame God for not living up to my expectations. Jesus came to save me, but not from the things around me – he came to save me from myself.