Text: Matthew 21:1-11
They embraced him as a king, and yet only five days later the crowds were yelling, “Crucify him!”
What would it look like if the biblical accounts of Palm Sunday were taking place in our generation today? Imagine Jesus entering New York, Miami, Los Angeles, or Seattle during Holy Week. I’m sure the crowds would welcome him with awe—especially if the network news channels had just reported him raising Lazarus from the dead. We’d strike up the band, ribbon the streets, and cue the parade. People would be intrigued. Just like in the Gospels, the whole world would come out to see him (John 12:19). Folks would be lined up by the droves hoping to capture a selfie with Jesus passing by behind them, so that they could post it on their social media profiles.
But this is something I am equally sure of: by the end of the week, we’d have him nailed to a cross, too.
Why? Because the Kingdom Jesus came to establish still threatens the kingdoms of this world—the kingdoms of lust, greed, power, self-promotion—even religious bigotry (exemplified by the Pharisees in Jesus’ time).
Have you come to experience in your lifetime that we, human beings, can be a strangely fickle species? You can be loved one day and hated the next simply because of one petty action, an offensive statement, or a politically charged “Tweet.” Loyalties in our day can be rather capricious and temperamental. In that regard, not much has changed since Jesus passed by those adulated crowds on Palm Sunday.
Palms were a symbol of royalty and nobility in Jesus’ time, and everyone who lined the streets of Jerusalem had a different reason for waving those palms. Some were political activists hoping that Jesus would overthrow opposing parties, and ultimately to liberate Israel from Roman rule. His disciples were expecting Jesus to establish himself as an earthly king. Many were curious onlookers casually joining in on the cultural festivities of the day. For others this was a moment of desperation; they may have been sick or had loved ones who were dying, and they waved their branches in faith, hoping for a miracle.
In the parade that day, only Jesus knew why he was coming into Jerusalem—to give up His life as the Savior of the world. He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda.
You know, it is a lot easier to cheer for Jesus than it is to lay down our lives for Jesus. It’s easy to praise the name of Jesus and sing “Hosanna” when it doesn’t cost us anything. Posting inspirational Bible verses for the world to read doesn’t require much of us—certainly no degree of sacrifice. As Adam Clarke says, “How strange is it that these same people… should, about five days after, change their hosannas for, Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify him! How fickle is the multitude! Even when they get right, there is but little hope that they will continue so long.”
This Palm Sunday let’s be reminded that our worship must cost us something to go beyond Sunday morning cheerleading.
Oswald Chambers wrote,
“It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God.”
This high calling bids us to live beyond Sunday morning ‘cheerleaders’ and to give way to his Kingdom rule in all of our earthly affairs—to surrender our pride when there is strife in our day-to-day relationships (Proverbs 13:10), to do the gritty work of peacemaking with others (Matthew 5:9), to love the unlovable (John 15:12), to show mercy to those who deserve it least (James 2:13), to forgive your enemies and do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27), to do what is just and right for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow (Jeremiah 22:3), and to keep no record of wrongs done to us (1 Corinthians 13:5).
It’s easy to sing about Jesus on Sunday. But it will cost us much more to follow him all the way to the cross the rest of the week. Let’s don’t just wave our palm branches when it is convenient as the worship band plays, let’s lay down our lives in daily submission to His Kingdom reign, fleshing out our faith when it becomes apparent that it will truly cost us something in our generation.
Think about that, beloved, as you seek to abide in Him this Holy Week.
Heavenly Father, help us to live beyond religious fanfare. Holy Spirit, embolden and empower us to follow Jesus down that blood-stained path to a rugged cross which beckons us to lay down our lives in reckless abandon and total surrender. Show us what it looks like to live under your Kingdom rule in all the affairs of our lives. For your glory and your Kingdom come, we pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
It is a lot easier to be a cheerleader for Jesus than it is to lay down our lives for Jesus. Tweet this
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- How would you describe what it means to be a loyal sports fan?
- Where have you seen loyalty or disloyalty play out in your relationships?
- In what ways do you think our culture makes it is easier to breed ‘cheerleaders’ for Jesus rather than true disciples of Jesus?
- When has it been easy or convenient for you to proclaim the ‘teachings’ of Jesus without necessarily having to sacrifice for them?
- What will your faith cost you this week? Spend some time in prayer talking to God about this. Ask Him for wisdom in fleshing out your faith.
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