On this coming Sunday, known as Palm Sunday, we will celebrate the “triumphant entry” of Jesus Christ as he enters into Jerusalem and prepares to go to the cross (St. Mark 11:1-11). The crowds shouted Hosanna and spread branches along the way.
You sometimes hear it said that the same people who cried “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday ended up crying “crucify him” on Good Friday, but this is not true. The crowd that wanted him crucified came predominantly from Judea and Jerusalem, wherein the Galilean Jews were sympathetic with Jesus and his ministry. But what was going through Jesus’ mind as he made his entrance to Jerusalem? What was he thinking?
We have to understand that the people were looking for a ruling Messiah and a political leader; but again I ask, what was going through his mind as he knew that in just a few days he would be crucified? We all would agree that it is not good for us to know some things in advance and that if we know that something bad is about to happen it could disturb our peace — sometimes, we would not be able to sleep at night if we knew in advance that something bad was going to take place.
Jesus was not merely a man, but he was also God; being God, he knew that he came into the world for what was going to take place on the coming Friday. He could foresee the suffering that he would endure. He knew Judas was going to betray him, that Peter would deny him and that when he was arrested the others would run off and leave him by himself. He knew the pain and agony that awaited him. He couldn’t hope for the best — he knew the worst was coming. He knew that he would be tried and convicted by a kangaroo court and that the crowd after the kangaroo court would ask for Barabbas over him and that when he stood before the court that nobody would speak for his defense, on his behalf.
Jesus knew that his earthly ministry was coming to a close, but even in this Jesus teaches us something. He teaches us that regardless to what our future holds, we can put our life in God’s hand. He teaches us that it is better to do the will of God than to obey the flesh. He teaches the reality of St. John 15:13, where he himself said ”Greater love has no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
We see our savior entering Jerusalem for what would be his last time, so why do we call it his “triumphant entry?” I believe it is called that because in coming in spite of the devil’s attempt to stop him, he triumphed over him.
That’s what this day is all about — the victory that would be won as a result of his death on the cross, his burial and his resurrection. As they shouted back then, we ought to be shouting right now. What a triumphant savior!
The Rev. George T. Ellis is pastor of Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church.