Matthew 26: 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
“There always remains a choice to be made between the creative power of love and life and the destructive power of hatred and death. I, too, must make that choice myself, again and again. Nobody else, not even God, will make that choice for me…
Reading the Signs by Henri Nouwen
Jesus chose to reveal himself rather than hide in that garden. Jesus was not the hunted victim of Judas’ betrayal. He chose Judas. He chose the time. He chose the spot. He chose God’s will when he could have chosen rescue for himself. This is an heart-inspiring truth to think about this Palm Sunday because of what we know is coming.
Not even God, His Father, made that choice for Jesus. Jesus chose…to rescue us instead! Hosanna!
Mark 11:9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
This is probably one of the most familiar Biblical stories associated with the week leading up to Easter Sunday. I’m sure you know it. There was the donkey, a prophetic symbol, the ride of choice for a king coming in peace. The cheering crowd confirming that Jesus’s ministry was spreading and the palm branches were the modern-day equivalent of their rolling out the red carpet for him.
The details of this story in the four Gospels vary a bit but the main idea is the same; Jesus’s determination to begin his final confrontation with sin in the city of peace, Jerusalem. “As he 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.’ ” Luke 19
Jesus knew exactly what that triumphal entry was really about. The crowd’s Hosannas weren’t at all shouts of praise as I’ve come to think of them. They were cries of it’s literal meaning; “help” or “save, I pray” from people longing for Jesus to prove himself as the conquering Messiah they expected. That conflict between Jesus’s determination and their expectations explains why a short five days later their cries had changed from Hosanna to “crucify him.”
Thank God for this Palm Sunday reminder…sometimes repentance includes surrendering my expectations of how Jesus should prove himself to me and celebrate that he already has. Hosanna!
Matthew 21 [excerpts] 1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me…8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna [a Hebrew expression meaning “Save!” which became an exclamation of praise] to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
For a moment as I read about Jesus entry into Jerusalem I thought how his heart must have swelled at this reception. Then I remembered he knew what was in the heart of man. He also knew the conflicting emotions of his future from “thy will be done” to “take this cup from me.” It’s much easier for me to imagine Jesus being welcomed into Jerusalem by a cheering crowd than to realize he knew he was facing a gut wrenching human choice as well. This day begins The Week of Reality as Jesus completes his identity with our humanity to give us the opportunity to complete our identity as sons and daughters of God. “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”