A FRIEND of mine prefers Palm Sunday to the other Easter days. He remembers the celebratory festive experience of all those palm fronds decorating his church when he was a kid.
“It was a glimpse of what the world should be, remembering the crowds that greeted Jesus as he rode in triumph into Jerusalem on a donkey,” he said.
“Then in a week it all changes and the same mob that waved palms and shouted Hosanna is calling for Jesus’ death. It is disconcerting because it shows how fickle we are as human beings – one minute adoring and the next full of hate”.
My friend understands the reality. He knows you can’t have Palm Sunday without it being followed by the terrible events of Good Friday. And you can’t have Good Friday without acknowledging the resurrection of Easter Sunday.
It’s all about paradox. Supposed triumph turns into apparent tragedy and is followed by a genuine triumph.
Pastor Bill Hybels said those lining the streets of old Jerusalem probably had different reasons for waving those palms. Some were political activists; they’d heard Jesus had supernatural power, and they wanted him to use it to free Israel from Roman rule. Others had loved ones who were sick or dying. They waved branches, hoping for physical healing. Some were onlookers merely looking for something to do, while others were genuine followers who wished Jesus would establish himself as an earthly king.
“Jesus was the only one in the parade who knew why he was going to Jerusalem – to die,” said Hybels. “He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda.”