“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:8-9
We remember the day as Palm Sunday. A week that starts with shouts of joy, yet ends in the tragic consequences of greed, envy and hate. Beyond misunderstanding, there is fear, jealousy and resentment. If one was among the religious leaders of the day, I’d think it would have been difficult to cope with a person like Jesus. So loved by the crowds for his pithy sayings, and yet always challenging your authority, with his critique of religious customs.
I’d probably see him as an interloper who had no business messing with peoples minds and hearts. I’d wonder what right he had to question teachers of the law, and regulations of the Pharisees. Who for most part were trying as hard as they could to live the Ten commandments out every day, following all 613 laws perfectly. I’d be aware that religious laws governing the life of the Jewish people were not meant to harm, but to keep one in harmony with the Ten Commandments. I’d wonder why Jesus didn’t comprehend that. When he started teaching others to disregard some those laws, I’d be offended.
Then there was a problem with his popularity. To be a leader in Israel, and stay in power was to cater to the Roman government. Jesus, simply did not know his place. Crowds were asking if Jesus was the Messiah. What they didn’t need in Jerusalem, was a popular uprising, that would put their own positions of power, in peril.Caiaphas had said it so well, “It is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” John 11:50
Was Jesus a bad person in their minds? Not really, nevertheless, he was problem. And problems need to be dealt with. So they looked for a way to arrest him, charge him, and get rid of Jesus.Before all of that succeeded, on Palm Sunday there was a parade. Crowds of people shouting “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:9
I have to wonder, if I was there on that day, where would I be in the crowd? Would I be among the most religious, frustrated with this troubling prophet and his upsetting words? Would I be among those glimpsing a different way of faith and hanging on to words of hope and promise? Who would I be? And what would my hope on Palm Sunday look like? Where would you be on that Palm Sunday morning?
The bigger question of course is, “Where do each of us stand today?” Are we still the people who follow Jesus’ way, of loving God and loving our neighbor, no matter how strange and different that neighbor is? Can we see our neighbor in the faces of those who do not look like us, talk like us, sound like us or believe like us? Where do we stand today?