the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” John 12:12-13
I have two and half palm trees in the garden in my backyard. I say two and a half because I once had three. I thought I lost one of them to the drought last summer. I was sad to see it go so I didn’t dig it up and throw it away. Instead, I cut away all the dead leaves leaving just a pathetic little mound of brown. Last weekend I discovered a few ever-so-tiny green palm fronds protruding from that small leftover pile of dirty dry roots.
I planted the palm trees as a memorial. A memorial to my daughter in Heaven, her love for the beach, and all the wonderful vacations and family memories that include palm branches peacefully swaying in the wind. I also planted the palm trees because they remind me of a significant day in the life of Jesus when palm branches swayed from the arms of those greeting Him. We call that day Palm Sunday, but it is more appropriately remembered by its other name, The Triumphal Entry.
Triumphal entry is more appropriate for describing this day because Jesus very carefully orchestrated the details of the day when He would triumphantly enter Jerusalem on the last week of His earthly life announcing His identity as Messiah. With Jesus’ triumphal entry, He brought the world to the brink of decision…
If you will remember, throughout Jesus’ ministry when He healed and performed miracles, He instructed the recipients of the miracles not to tell anyone. The reason he instructed them not to tell was because the more great claims that were made about Him, the more pressure it put on the religious leaders to try to stop His ministry. But now, walking toward Jerusalem to celebrate His last Passover on earth, Jesus is ready to declare His identity.
21 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt ,the foal of a beast of burden.’”6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 17:21-11
Notice a few things here:
Jesus rides into Jerusalem as a triumphant king.
The crowd is crying, “Hosanna,” which means save us!
The crowd quotes Psalm 18, a messianic Psalm.
Jesus goes to the temple.
In the temple, Jesus confronts the money-changers with authority.
Jesus calls the temple “my house”:
12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” John 12:12-16
After a cloak of secrecy for three years, on this day, Jesus declared Himself Messiah. Jesus pushed His identity as Messiah forward so that a decision had to be made. The people and the religious leaders could either accept Jesus as Messiah or reject Him and kill Him.
We know what happened. Jesus was rejected, and they chose to kill Him. Every day since the first Palm Sunday that culminated in His death as a substitute for the sins of many; every day since He was resurrected and conquered death, Jesus makes triumphal entries. Every day, someone comes face to face with the identity of Jesus as Messiah. In that confrontation, each must decide whether to respond with, “Hosanna, save me,” or whether to reject Him.
Jesus says, “Will you allow me to make a triumphal entry into your life or will you reject me, kill my presence, and crown yourself king of kings and lord of lords?”
Crown Him or kill Him.
To crown Him is to love Him, to worship Him.
But, you won’t necessarily like every day with Jesus. Jesus will lead to unsafe and uncomfortable places. In those unsafe and uncomfortable places as He uses you to accomplish great purposes, you will suffer, and you probably won’t like it. It is possible that you will lose this earthily life accomplishing purposes as you travel with Jesus. You might never know “why” you were unsafe and uncomfortable until Jesus takes your hand to help you step triumphantly through the chasm death into His presence, and you experience the joy of hearing Him say, “Well Done!”
With all of that said…when you accept Jesus, you will find He is better!
Jesus is better than the palm branches that swayed in His honor. He is better than your family vacations. He is better than your hobbies, and jobs, and relationships, and any other choice you might place triumphantly before Him. He is better not least because He gives you joy unspeakable and peace beyond understanding as you walk through your journey on earth. He is better is because He welcomes you triumphantly into His outstretched arms when this journey is complete.
On that first Palm Sunday, Jesus triumphantly declared Himself Messiah!
Worship Him as Lord and Savior in all of life!