Palm branch parades

March 24, 2024

Matthew 21:6–9 (ESV)

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!”

Palm parades were commonplace for kings. Probably expected even. Upon returning to the capital city, fresh from battle, victorious kings expected to be met by throngs of their grateful citizens, crying out in praise and laying down their cloaks and palms, in celebration of the winning of that war. A former version of a modern day, ticker-tape parade. Usually the king rode in on his mighty steed, full of pride, rich in ego, and knowing that those in the crowd would be “in his corner” for many moons to come – simply because he had saved them from their enemies. No conquering king need worry about anything other than being adored. Soon stomachs would be stuffed, and goblets would be overflowing. The worries of war were a thing of the past, for to the victor come the spoils. 

But this parade is different. 

Yes, this King is coming to the capital city, and yes there will be palms; but that is where the similarities meet their end. For this King, the war is just beginning, and the cost of victory will be steep. There is no majestic stallion, just a simple donkey’s colt. The crowd that cheers His entry and lauds His Kingdom, will not even need a week to turn their hearts and misplace their trust. A man with no ego, will trade places with a murderer, all to save us, from the greatest enemy of all. His head, will be adorned with a crown, made not of silver or gold, but of twisted, mangling thorns. His last supper, mere bread and wine – will tell a story of a body broken, and a cup will be shared, representing the blood He will shed. His worry will lead to sweating blood, and it will seem as if death has claimed the final victory. 

Yes this parade, is different. 

It is known by most, that riding in on a such a beast, means “I come in peace” – and it seems that indeed He does. But there will be no peace for Him in Jerusalem from this day on. Jesus has come to Israel’s holiest place, to celebrate the Passover. A reminder of God’s promise and provision for His chosen people. He has come to remember a time when the blood of a lamb, caused an angel of death, to pass over the homes of those who were obedient to Yahweh. But this Passover, death will not pass over Him. His obedience will lead Him not to a throne, but to a jail cell, and then to a cross. He will shed His blood, as THE Passover Lamb, and death will have it’s way. His life, for our death. His suffering, for our shame. His misfortune, for our mistakes. 

It’s Sunday, and the palms are waving, and the people are cheering. “Hosanna! In the highest! Save us!” And save them, He will. But not the way they want, and not from who they think. What seems like a peaceful palm branch parade, with smiling friends and faithful followers, is really a long, slow march towards destiny. 

Jesus Christ of Nazareth, is having His parade – and one that’s fitting, for Israel’s final King. 

More about Aaron

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *