Palm Sunday weekend is a wonderful time of celebration for the church; a celebrative time of rejoicing in the midst of our sober, somber, penitential Lenten reflection. In only a few days, we will once again observe the passion of our Savior. We will see His anguish in the Garden; watch Him arrested and drug away by His enemies; hear Him being falsely accused; see Him viciously beaten and maliciously mocked by His captors; and watch Him, finally, be crucified for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the entire world.
But for now, for today, there are Parades, and Palms and Praises! And the celebration that first Palm Sunday was, as much as anything, the “fault” of Lazarus who had been miraculously raised from the dead by Jesus! “Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was [in Bethany] and came, not only because of Him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.” (John 12: 9) Lazarus was “Living Proof that Jesus was the Lord of Life!” Crowds gathered to see Jesus and this man raised from the dead!
One of my favorite scenes from the movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” follows the raising of Lazarus – seeing the wonder, excitement and thrill in reaction to this miracle. The dead are raised, the crippled can walk and the blind are given sight. They are ALL living proof that Jesus is the Lord of Life!
And thus, the Palm Sunday parade! His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem was a part of God’s divine design, the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan. His coming was predicted in the Old Testament… David wrote, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118: 25-26) and Zechariah wrote, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (Zechariah 9:9) He was the bringer of the Father’s mercy, forgiveness and peace. His humble cross breaks our proud hearts and breaks the power of sin, death and the devil!
But, of course, not everyone was glad to see Him come! “So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well [as Jesus], for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him.” (John 12: 11) There were (and are) always those who tried to put “roadblocks” in the way of Jesus’ redemptive mission. The devil tried for 40 days to “derail” Jesus by tempting Him to serve Himself, having the world serve Him or forcing the Father to serve Him. Even Peter, one of His closest disciples, tried to dissuade Him from suffering and dying for the sins of mankind, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22) False teachers, false churches and non-Christian religions continue to try to place “roadblocks” in the way of Jesus triumphantly riding into the hearts and lives of His followers today.
What His enemies lament, we celebrate this Palm Sunday weekend, “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘…Look how the whole world has gone after Him!’” (John 12: 19) Like Lazarus, may it be our “fault” that more, and more, and more people “come over to Jesus and [put] their faith in Him” (John 12:11) because “WE are Living Proof that Jesus is the Lord of Life!”
See you in church this week – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday AND Easter Sunday!
Blessings in Christ,