Today is Palm Sunday, the day Christians all over the world celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem on the eve of Passover week (what would be Jesus’ final Passover before death, burial and resurrection).
But before we lean too far into these events, we are first confronted with the Triumphal Entry. And in so doing we are confronted with the over-arching notion that Christ really is Lord and King. The scriptures listed below are a direct and determinative invitation for us to acknowledge this confession and to remain actively present with it. Sadly (even mistakenly), we’re so easily and eagerly willing to move on. The point of this meditation is to not move on, but to slow down, settle, and receive what is presently being spoken by the word of the Lord.
Psalm 9 1 I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. 3 When my enemies turn back, they shall fall and perish at Your presence. 4 For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sit on a throne judging in righteousness. 5 You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever. 9 The Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. 11 Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people. 12 When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble. 13 Have mercy on me, O Lord! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 That I may tell of all Your glory in the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation.
Psalm 24 1 The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters. 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts. He is the King of glory.
Psalm 118 1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever. 2 Let Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His mercy endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His mercy endures forever.” 15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live; and declare the works of the Lord. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter. 21 I will praise You, for You have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
John 12 12 The next day a great multitude that had come for the Passover, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him on the way; and they cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!”
For us who know the scriptures well know also that those who shouted “Hosanna! Hosanna! The King of Israel” only days later shouted all the louder “Crucify him. Crucify him.” We know this because we know the whole of the story. We have, so-to-speak, the inside scoop. Or do we? What we can appreciate from all the well-meaning crowds that followed Jesus from his baptism at the Jordan to the house of Lazarus on the eve of Passover is that all seem genuinely engaged in Jesus. Whether complete adoration, confounding unbelief, or absolute hatred, Jesus is the supreme focus. Palm Sunday reminds us He alone is worthy of such focus and ought to be met with heartfelt praise.
For us who are so eager to move on, is there a chorus of praise on our lips? Do we (in the midst of our annual familiarity) acknowledge that Jesus triumphantly descends in pursuit of every human ever created? Nowhere else does this ring more true than in my own personal testimony. I have always known (to the best of my knowledge anyway) that I am not right before God and desperately need a savior. I have not always known (or at least not always been honest) about my desperate need for a lord and king. Lord and king implies that we are subjects, that we must come under certain authority, that we must humble ourselves and shed all of our self-interest. Christianity is a hard school, and it is no use putting off this lesson any longer.
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” John writes. Even more, John accounts for how this Jesus from Nazareth humbled himself to the point of incarceration, severe beating, absolute humiliation, and finally execution by torture - all a glaring indication of how far we’ve fallen, how high we’ve been raised. And indeed we have been raised; the one big secret not worth keeping.