Yes, I realize Palm Sunday was LAST Sunday, but I’m trying to do a post every day of this week so things might be a little bit out of order. There’s a lot to cover. Also I already missed 2 days, but I’m going to make it up somehow. I have a lot in the chute.
There is something I think we tend to forget as Bible readers living in the future. We forget what the Bible was to the people of the time. We read Psalms like it’s just another book of the Bible rather than the hymnal that it was. I bring this up because it’s super relevant to the events that transpire throughout this holy week.
There’s something else to remember when we read the Bible as Christians of the future- the people of the past were exactly like us. They were living in the moment and it would be easy to think that if we were there, we wouldn’t behave the same way. But we would and I know this because we still act this way today.
Palm Sunday, in particular, highlights this perfectly. I know Christians who regularly attend Church will joke about how many people show up on Easter and Christmas that they have never seen before. Yeah, it’s kind of funny, but those people waving their palms and celebrating the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem were exactly the same kind of “believers”. They showed up, they celebrated something they didn’t understand, spoke words they didn’t mean and then went home to go through the motions of their various family traditions (religious and otherwise).
Let’s take a look at it-
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” 14 Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” 16 These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.
They quote what was at the time a very famous and well-known hymn. It’s a song they sang so frequently that it didn’t mean anything to them anymore. It’s just what you sing around the Feast of the Tabernacles. As future Christians, we can’t help but wonder how the meaning was so lost on them. Did they really not notice that Christ was fulfilling all of this prophesy before their very eyes? No. They didn’t notice. It was just a song and they were just having fun. Even the disciples didn’t put all of the pieces together until after the fact.
Everything about this event is dripping with symbolism- the palms, the coats, the donkey. Everything that happened meant something to someone, but it wasn’t until later that it was totally understood. Christ is doing His victory march- claiming Kinghood, claiming Godhood but really nobody in attendance GOT IT.
Let’s check out the rest of that song they were singing. It’s Psalm 118-
Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!
26 He who comes in the name
of the Lord is blessed.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
27 The Lord is God and has given us light.
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords
to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give You thanks.
You are my God; I will exalt You.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever.
Look, they aren’t bad people for not fully understanding what they’re doing. It’s only because I possess the Holy Spirit that I have any ability to grasp such gigantic things (and even then, I only understand on the most superficial level).
So when we have visitors sitting in our pews on Easter Sunday, saying the words and singing the songs, I want you to remember the people who celebrated Jesus’ entry- waving palms, laying down their garments and saying Hosanna! (Save me!) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Who then promptly went to their own homes and their own celebrations.
They’re celebrating things they don’t understand. But there is no place like in the company of believers, in the pew of a church, for the Holy Spirit to open a person’s heart and eyes and grant them a bit of that understanding.
Please pray for all of the new faces you see on Sunday. Pray that God reaches them and stirs something in them. Pray that Resurrection Sunday is the day they stop mindlessly celebrating family traditions and become the Body of Christ.