“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’
“The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matthew 21:1-11; see also Mark 11:1-10)
It may be easy to remember Palm Sunday is when Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem while the crowd tossed jackets and/or palm branches down on the path in front of him. But just as in most stories throughout the Bible, the deeper you dig, the more interesting the stories become. The scene that day must have been incredible! Once the disciples borrowed the donkey, word spread like wild fire throughout the village that “The Lord” was coming!
You see, for centuries, Jews had been expecting a Savior. However, they almost unanimously expected someone who was going to rescue them from the Roman government and become their earthly king. They were ready for a new physical kingdom to be established, and it seemed like the day had come. Even Jesus’ disciples had a hard time understanding the warning they’d been given during their time with the Son of God (Mark 10:35-37). But what they would soon learn, and what we have to learn all too often, is that God’s plans are much bigger than our plans.
Oh, Jesus had come to establish a kingdom for sure – just not the one they had expected. So as they heard who was coming up the road, they did what anyone else would do; they rolled out a first century version of the red carpet! They even began shouting words from the Psalmist (Psalms 118:26-27). As the crowd shouted and cheered Him on as a Roman conqueror, Jesus rode His little colt into their city for what He knew would be the last time.
He was most certainly coming to conquer alright, but not Rome. Jesus came to conquer death itself! His mission was not impacted by the crowd, by Rome, by the religious leaders, or even by His closest friends. Jesus Christ came because His Father sent Him on mission to give us hope. Palm Sunday should not only remind us of a donkey and some palm branches. It should remind us of how God’s plan is bigger than our plans, and yet we are invited to be a part of it, for His glory and for our salvation.
Questions to consider:
- Even though the crowd (& disciples) had a misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose, they did go all out to celebrate Him. When is the last time you have literally celebrated who Jesus was to you? How can you go all out today (& this week) to make it known who Jesus is?
- The humble sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross, not to mention the way He handled the days leading up to it, is nearly impossible to comprehend. Knowing what He gave up so obediently for you, what sacrifices have you made for Him in your life?
- Have you surrendered your life to Him in the first place?
- Have you trusted that God’s plans are bigger than your plans even when, and especially when, you cannot see the purpose?
- Have you been on mission for Him despite what the crowd or friends around you think?