Holy Week is upon us, and today we once again visit the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. Once again we act out the supreme irony of our faith. One minute we are praising God; then on the next we turn our backs on Him.
On that first Palm Sunday, the people also honored Jesus verbally: “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” In their praise of Jesus, the Jewish crowds were quoting Psalm 118:25–26, an acknowledged prophecy of the Christ. The allusion to a Messianic psalm drew resentment from the religious leaders present: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’” However, Jesus saw no need to rebuke those who told the truth. He replied, “I tell you ... if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Some 450 to 500 years prior to Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, the prophet Zechariah had prophesied the event we now call Palm Sunday: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The prophecy was fulfilled and it was indeed a time of rejoicing as Jerusalem welcomed their King. Unfortunately, the celebration was not to last. The crowds looked for a Messiah who would rescue them politically and free them nationally, but Jesus had come to save them spiritually. First things first, and mankind’s primary need is spiritual, not political, cultural, or national salvation.