Who wouldn’t want to be outside of Macy’s in New York on Thanksgiving morning?
The marching bands, balloons, floats and crowds of people ensure that anyone along the route is given an experience they will not forget.
No matter what the locale, a parade usually offers a time of excitement and commonality.
This same enthusiasm is seen in each of the Gospels of the New Testament where Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all describe a Sunday morning in Ancient Israel.
The time is the Passover. Josephus, a first century historian details that over two million Jews had traveled from all over the region to Jerusalem to participate in the ceremony held once a year in early Spring.
It will be several days before the events of the Passover officially begin so the crowd in Jerusalem is waking Sunday morning with time on their hands. If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, then the devil had a lot to work with that particular day.
John 12:9-10 makes it clear the people were excited to see Jesus – and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. They were celebrities. It says that the priests (some of whom Jesus had called ‘sons of the devil’) plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus.
So for a couple of days there wasn’t much to do. The city of Jerusalem resembled a cauldron of emotion with people milling about, clamoring to see celebrities (some attempting to murder said celebrities).
Someone broke out the palm branches and cried ‘Hosanna’ (or “Save us, I pray!”) both of which, oddly enough, came from a completely different celebration – the Feast of Tabernacles.
Long story to short, the crowd/mob picked it up and began to lay the branches on road or wave them in the air crying “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
Remember that five days later they were calling for His death with just as much passion. I find it hard to believe that these people really wanted the salvation Jesus offered – or even His kingship over them.
Sadly enough, the crowd was swept up in the emotion of the moment.
So since we believe them to be insincere, let’s look at Jesus.
Did He ask His Father for a parade? Did Jesus say, “I know this next week is going to be pretty tough.Father, it would be nice if you gave me a break and held a parade for me!”
Of course not!
Jesus’ purpose for this Palm Sunday morning was to get to the Temple. Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all detail Jesus going to the Temple immediately following the triumphal entry and clearing it of money changers.
The Temple had been turned into a place of commerce not a house of prayer as it was designed to be. Jesus had to sanctify and purify the Temple before His perfect and atoning sacrifice could be made – that of Him offering His own life as the perfect Passover Lamb just five days later.
What’s amazing about this “parade” is that it directed the Lord right to the Temple.
For Jesus to make His way from Bethany to the temple through a crowd of millions would have been difficult and long, maybe impossible. The Bible does not say Jesus was mobbed, it says the people cleared the road and allowed him to move quickly and easily.
Instead of a ‘Yellow Brick Road’ they formed a ‘Green Fern Road.’ Also, the disciples found the Savior a donkey, both fulfilling a prophecy and allowing him to ride the few miles to his mission instead of walk.
When reading the Bible, looking for what God had planned is key. For this Palm Sunday morning, clearing the Temple was the main thing on the agenda, not being a float in a parade.
Jesus knew the future. He understood their hearts and what they would be chanting a week later. Jesus had a mission to complete, and His Father gave Him the tools to accomplish it – in this case, millions of people clearing the road.