“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:38-40
Dear Faithful – Fearless and Fruitful Seed Sowers,
This is Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. I encourage you take some time and read the accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life. Read and compare the four Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) or pick one to read one this week. Here are the Gospel accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, Holy Week — Matthew 21-28, Mark 11-16, Luke 19:28-24 and John 12-21.
Today we are going to look at Luke 19:28-44 and at the Old Testament prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9-12.
Think about this for a moment. I mean, stop, and really think about where you are in this story of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem? Where are you in your faith walk with Jesus? There were crowds of people in this story. Scholars believe that there were over 2 million people in Jerusalem during the time of the Passover. They estimate the crowd at the “Palm Parade” was around 200,000 people. Jesus was riding into town on a donkey and the crowds went wild. Yet, there are at least three types of people in this story. As you read, figure out where you are. Which of these three crowds do you belong in?
1. The people who knew their Scriptures and were waiting for God to send a KING to overthrow the Roman government—this crowd went wild with praise! PRAISERS.
2. The crowd of the Pharisees did not go wild with praise. They went wild with protest. PROTESTORS.
3. The third kind of crowd was absolutely passive—to them, this parade was no big deal either way. PASSERS.
Praising, protesting or passive! Faithful one or faithless one! What crowd will you find yourself in today?
Will we praise Jesus?
Will we protest Jesus?
Will we be passive about Jesus?
Imagine for a moment 100,000 to 200,000 people moving, waving palms, and shouting! The Rose Bowl holds around 92,000 people, double that crowd, imagine the noise and hysteria of the crowd on that first Palm Sunday. Can you feel the energy?
Can you enter into the picture? A few million people are milling around Jerusalem. There are people everywhere! Today would be Sunday, the Sunday before they celebrated Passover, and this is the very reason why all of these people were there. Today is known as “Lamb Selection Sunday” and thousands of lambs are being led into town for Thursday’s annual Passover sacrifice event. Everyone is selecting their family’s sacrificial lamb. Think of the tension in the air as the Roman centurions walk around — angry that the crowd is so large. Their swords and shields are ready at a moment’s notice to keep the peace. Jesus makes his way through the nearby town of Bethany, down the Mount of Olives and enters the city of Jerusalem. Jesus has been in ministry for three years. The people have seen Him in action or they have heard about Him. The crowd is energized, and the excitement keeps building and building! Jesus is riding into town on a donkey and the crowd goes wild. They have been waiting for this day! These people know their scriptures. They don’t have the new testament—only the old! They can easily equate Zechariah 9…with what they are seeing! All of sudden, this is the biggest parade you have ever seen, everyone is breaking off palm branches from the palm trees and waving them. They are taking off their outer coats to throw them on the dirt road that Jesus is riding into town on! Are you with me? Can you hear the excitement as the crowd begins to shout, “HOSANNA — HOSANNA — HOSANNA! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel.” (Makes me think of when we shout USA in the Olympic games.)
The Hebrew word “hosanna” literally means “save us, we pray, save us now, save us–we beseech you.” The crowd is shouting at the top of their lungs, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna!”
What about you? Are you in this crowd?
Do YOU PROTEST Jesus?
There is another crowd we need to pay attention to. I love that Luke puts these two verses into his detailed storyline, “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” This is the last mention of the Pharisees in Luke’s account. The Pharisees went out to meet Jesus because they understood why He was coming to town. This Jesus was about to turn their entire lives completely upside down. The Pharisees were comfortable and in control, or so they thought. Luke records that some of the Pharisees were shouting out to Jesus. Imagine how loud they must have been shouting to have their voices heard over the crowd. This crowd of Pharisees wanted to silence the crowd and Jesus. Imagine how they felt when Jesus responded that even if the crowd was silent, the very stones on the ground would cry out. (I’d like to be around for that!)
The voices of two contrasting crowds: One crowd is wild with excitement, shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna” —“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The other crowd is shouting “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Two crowds: One crowd praises Jesus while the other crowd protests Him.
We come to the final group: the crowd who simply pass. They do not care enough one way or the other. Jesus? Who? Did what? Yeah, I am really busy doing my own thing. I am going to pass on that. I’m taking a pass today. Maybe next time.
This the “So what?” for YOU today: what crowd are YOU in?
· Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PRAISE-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?
· Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PROTEST-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?
· Are you in the “THINK-I-WILL-PASS-on-Jesus-TODAY” crowd?
One day Mark Twain took his little daughter on his knee and told her all about the rulers and other prominent men whom he had met in his travels. She listened attentively. When he had finished, she said, “Daddy, you know everybody but God, don’t you?” Mark Twain was certainly an intelligent person. Yet he rejected God.1
Praise. Protest. Pass. Our choice. Today’s “So What?” comes down to a choice…made by me…made by you…to either PRAISE…PROTEST. …or PASS this JESUS OF NAZARETH.
When we were raising our kids, my wife and I lived on the parade route. If there was a parade, it was going to go right past our house! Anyone who knew us knew that they could find a spot on our lawn and sit and enjoy the parade. They also knew they could use the restroom, and could count on brownies with powdered sugar on top and water or pop (yes, in Northern Illinois–soda is POP!) Guess what? Today I know of a house (point to your heart) that is on the PALM SUNDAY parade route! It’s your heart. It’s YOU! Jesus is riding down the road in front of YOUR heart today! ARE YOU PRAISING? I surely hope you are!
We ended our worship on Palm Sunday with Chris Tomlin’s “IS HE WORTHY?” I double dog dare you to listen to it and PRAISE JESUS.
Friday is here…but…SUNDAY’S COMING!
See you Easter Sunday — SPOILER ALERT: the tomb is empty!!!
God loves you and so do I,