The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!”
14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
Who was/is Jesus?
There have been, and there remains, many answers to this question. On what we call “Palm Sunday,” one large group of people spontaneously assembled in Jerusalem, threw their cloaks on the ground, waved palm branches and shouted: “Hosanna to the King.” A few days later, another large crowd, in the same city, shouted “crucify him!” Those two points of view have echoed through the ages and they can still be heard today. Jesus is either everything or He is nothing. He is either the King of kings, or else He is to be despised and rejected.
In our current virus situation, based on what Jesus claimed about Himself i.e., He is the Creator of the universe and sustainer of all things (cf. Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:1-3); therefore, He has everything to do with this. The One who has all authority in heaven and on earth is in charge. Jesus is Lord! Again, if what He taught is true, then there is always a moral connection to the events of our lives, which is another way of saying there is meaning and purpose behind history, current events and the future. There is, in His universe, moral cause and effect.
The alternative is that Jesus has nothing to do with this. He is at best a liar and a nobody, and at worst (as many believe), a trouble-maker. He has no standing as a Savior, much less as a King. From this perspective our political leaders and experts are or saviors, but in a random and meaningless universe, which came from nothing and from no one, and is headed, in the end, to that same void, a virus is just one more product of the cosmic crapshoot, and at some point a microscopic virus may very well prove to be the most fit to survive. All the matter that we thought mattered will have turned out not to have mattered at all. We will have been just a little more dust in the dustbin of history.
And so, on this Palm Sunday, I speak to those who have chosen to take up the palms and lay down their cloaks and shout “Hosanna to the King!” Much of history and much of our world has rejected the claims of Jesus, as He said they would, but you and I have decided to follow Him; to put our trust in Him; all of it. He is everything.
On the first Palm Sunday Jesus turned over tables in the Temple. By the following Friday many would declare what they thought of Him; that He was nothing. They striped Him, beat Him, spit on Him, mocked Him, tortured Him, killed Him, and make a public display on a cross of this alleged “King of the Jews.” On the following Sunday, Jesus will turn some other tables. He who rises from the dead wins! Rome is long-gone; their power failed. This was not the first time Jesus came through what appeared to be a hopeless situation. J. C. Ryle observed:
The men of Nazareth could not hold Him when He chose to “pass through the midst of them to go His way” (Luke 4:30). The angry Jews of Jerusalem could not detain Him when they would have laid violent hands on Him in the Temple; but “going through the midst of them, He passed by” (John 8:59). Above all, the very soldiers who apprehended Him in the garden, at first, “went backward and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). In each of these instances there is but one explanation. A divine influence was put forth. There was about our Lord during His whole earthly ministry a mysterious “hiding of His power” (Hab. 3:4). But He had almighty power when He was pleased to use it. (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, p. 113.)
So now, at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus purposely allowed the whole Jewish nation to fix their eyes upon Him, including the Jewish Sanhedrin, which sought to kill Him. He knew what was coming over the next week. In a week’s time He went from being declared by the crowd to be “The King of the Jews” with palms and shouts of “Hosanna?” to being mocked by the Romans as “The King of the Jews.” By the first day of the next week He will be declared to be the “King of kings,” forever.
“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” —Revelation 11:15