Today is Palm Sunday, and at our church—on cue—a whole lot of children came walking down the aisles shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Well, some of them were shouting “Hosanna!” Some of them were clinging fearfully to their siblings. Some were being pulled down the aisles. Some were…you get the idea. It doesn’t really matter what children do (unless they are behaving badly), they are adorable.
Our pastor spoke on the trial and death of Christ today (I think it is safe to assume that some aspect of the events surrounding the Passion Week was the topic in a great many pulpits today). As I was listening, a couple of things came to mind. First, I was thinking about that great crowd that escorted Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I was thinking about the din they must have made; the sights, the sounds, the smells must have overwhelmed the senses. Conversely, what must it have been like as the people gradually figured out that Jesus was not preparing to lead a bloody coup—not planning to overthrow the Roman Empire?
Why are we here? What is all the hullaballoo about anyway? Nothing to see here; move along.
Perhaps they were disappointed that He didn’t at least feed them before they went on their way…
People started to break off and go elsewhere. Others saw them leaving and decided to do the same. More and more fell away, until only a faithful few remained. What a contrast the quiet must have been to the clamorous press from before. How unthinkable that so many could be in the very presence of the living God and decide there were better things to do with their time (which reminds me of something I was thinking about first thing this morning: Hebrews 10:23-25).
Next, as my pastor was speaking of the various ironies that can be seen in the trials and death of Jesus: the unwittingly true statements made by mocking fools.
He was called “king of the Jews” when not only is He King of the Jews, He is King of the entire universe.
They accused Him of being unable to save Himself, when He forbore doing so to save the world. They considered His cry out to God about being forsaken by Him (Matthew 27:46) to be pitiful proof of His defeat.
In reality, He had thoroughly prepared for this moment. He prayed (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 9:28; 22:39ff) and set His sights on the goal He had been working toward His entire life (Matthew 16:21-23). He placed His followers in the hands of His Father for safe keeping (John 17:15), and He was resolved to do His will (26:42). He fully trusted Him (Luke 23:46).
The cross was not defeat, it was triumph. But even as He was suffering the humiliation of dying on that cruel device, the mocking continued (Matthew 27:49). Not coming down off of the cross was considered to be the ultimate proof that His claims about Himself were false. It was considered proof of His weakness. But it was not. It was a demonstration of His power. He did not have to be there; He did not even have to be arrested to begin with (Matthew 26:51-54). He had the power to come down off of the cross, but more importantly, He had the power to stay there. He had the power to deny His flesh, His temporal comfort, in order to fulfill that which He had come to earth to do: save sinful men from eternal punishment in hell by dying in their stead. Save sinful men who were powerless to save themselves.
Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was victory over Death itself (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Jesus Christ’s death on the cross satisfied justice and made the way for eternity (Titus 3:5-7).