Every time I think of Palm Sunday I have Sunday School felt board flash backs. I remember little felt Jesus, wearing his little felt blue sash riding on his little felt donkey, past the group of 5 or so little felt men. The picture is so vivid that I sometimes have difficultly remembering that this is not just a “children’s story.”
Do you have that problem? Has Holy Week, and Easter become so routine that you miss the grandeur?
The story really is a grand one. Jesus has been teaching throughout the countryside for about three years, sticking mostly to Galilee and only periodicity popping into Judea, and even less frequently into Jerusalem.
But today he did just that. However this was not just another visit, it wasn’t just another time for teaching and miracles. Today was the day Jesus the King would ride in.
The people were excited, and can you blame them? After three years of listening to Jesus teaching, seeing him heal, of wondering and waiting if he was the long awaited Messiah here he is triumphantly riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.
The people understood what was happening and they couldn’t help but praise and shout. Like I said who could blame them?
As it so happens the Pharisees could and they did. They were I suspect angry, perhaps a little indignant and almost certainly frightened. They were angry that Jesus would so blatantly act out a prophecy about the coming Messiah, they were indignant that the crowds were following this country preacher/prophet and they were more than a little frightened about what Rome would do if they though an uprising was brewing.
Because of all of this, and probably more, the Pharisees demanded Jesus to silence his disciples. They wanted Jesus to rebuke them for their shouts of praise. Jesus did issue a rebuke but it was for the Pharisees. He told them that if he were to silence the people even the rocks would shout out praises.
This was a time for excitement, this was a time to shout out.
It still is. The question we have to ask is, are we still shouting out, are we still praising? My guess is for some of us this story has become just that a story, a moment that we remember a little if we are at church, but the excitement is long gone. We shout out praises just as loud as the rocks in our gardens do.
Pledge with me now, today in my own way I will praise God for Jesus our King. I will not sit idle, I will not allow the stones to praise in my place. Today I will reclaim the excitement of that first Palm Sunday because Jesus is King.