The Easter Parade.


Today’s Lectio DivinaLuke 19: 28-40 (MsgB)

After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem. When He got near Bethphage and Bethany at the mountain called Olives, He sent off two of the disciples with instructions: “Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you’ll find a colt tethered, one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says anything, asks, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘His Master needs him.’ ” The two left and found it just as He said. As they were untying the colt, its owners said, “What are you doing untying the colt?” They said, “His Master needs him.” They brought the colt to Jesus. Then, throwing their coats on its back, they helped Jesus get on. As He rode, the people gave Him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street. Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: “Blessed is He who comes, the King in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places!” Some Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, get Your disciples under control!” But He said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”

Palm Sunday.

That’s the proper name we church-folks call it.

In our minds, it’s a quaint little Easter parade. Jesus is riding a small donkey. Side-saddle, of course. His disciples are walking alongside Him, acknowledging the crowd that has gathered for this Sunday afternoon celebration in Jerusalem. Palm branches are waving in the breeze. People are removing their outer cloaks and throwing them on the ground as a symbol of their adoration for this young rabbi who is stirring the whole nation, rallying the people for what’s to come. Here comes Messiah, blessing God’s people with healing, deliverance, and wholeness.

The appreciative crowd is ecstatic. Their high expectations are evident as they chant and cheer with one voice.

Hosanna. Hosanna. Hosanna.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Sunday before Passover. 33 AD. God’s Holy City.

This day is a day of happiness and joy. The sun is shining. The stars are aligning. And for once in a long lifetime, this city, which has seen so many sad days in its long history, is enjoying one brief moment of God’s pleasure.

No one, but possibly Jesus, senses the ugly underbelly of the beast that is also evident in the city on this beautiful day in Israel.

But make no mistake. It’s certainly there.

Oh sure. This day has its’ share of doubters and detractors.  The leaders of the religious system of Jesus’ day are standing off to the side on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon, glaring at the scene. How dare this young whipper-snapper ride into our town, stirring the common folk to such high expectations?

But far below the surface of their human dismay, the demons of hell look at this parade and are angry. Very angry, indeed.

In truth, every eye in the universe is turned toward Jerusalem at this unique moment in time. From every perspective, whether it be angels in heaven or demons in hell, this entrance by Jesus and His associates into the heart of Jerusalem is no small affair. This, my friends, is an act of war. Holy war.

And what looks to us as being a peaceful parade with joyous celebration into the center of God’s city is actually just the opposite.

To use terms from WWII, this is June 6th, 1944. This is the great invasion of the Good King, landing His troops on the bloody beaches of Normandy. This is a hard slap directly in the face of God’s enemies. An aggressive act of warfare, landing the good guys right in the middle of the enemy’s turf.

And make no mistake. There will be hell to pay for this outlandish act of aggression against Satan, his forces, and all the human pride and arrogance sided with him.

Oh yeah. Jesus and His friends might be whooping it up today, but by Friday, this joyous celebration will become a funeral procession where weeping and wailing prevails. Just wait and see.

So Jesus, knowing what is waiting for Him in this upcoming week, turns His attention to this present moment. He takes it all in. And even when the Pharisees come to Him and tell Him to turn the music down, He ignores their critical spirit and reminds them that no one, including Satan himself, can throw water on a God-party. When God says celebrate. We celebrate. And even if some of God’s people don’t show up for God’s party, shoot. No problem.

Since God made all of us out of the dirt and rock in the first place, He can cook up a few worshippers for Himself by just letting those same stones shout out His high praises.

Moral of this story?

When God says to party. We party. Even when the gates of hell are looking to get revenge on us, we can party safely under the shadow of our Messiah’s wings.

Hosanna. Hosanna. Hosanna.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

My prayer: Thank You, God, for the brief foretaste You give us in Palm Sunday. Though the day was actually a day of great warfare, thank You for the reminder that despite the evil and sadness that can come into this life, You are still able to overcome that evil and celebrate Your goodness and mercy that will always trump Satan and his plans. We rejoice with You, for Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: How can I embrace the joy and triumph of Palm Sunday in the midst of my troubled week? Like Jesus, I am tempted and tortured at times with the evil in this world, but how can I, like Jesus, look beyond that pain and suffering, embracing the joy and celebration that is mine in Christ?

On this Palm Sunday, this beginning of Holy Week, I encourage you to join those of us who have been journeying through Lent using Luke’s gospel text as our guide. Join us this Holy Week by following our daily blog, we call Our Lenten Journey. Click here for our guide.

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