Encountering God in the Wilderness – Sunday 28th March 2021

Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord

John 12.12-16 (NRSV)

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So, they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
    the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him

Reflection

Jesus sends a couple of the Apostles, ahead of him, to get the donkey, sent into the city where the population was swelling by the hour. The crowds were principally gathering for the Feast of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the seven-day celebration immediately following the Passover.

Imagine the scene. By this time, the city is crammed with pilgrims. And the rumours were beginning to gather pace. The crowds were excited with expectation, from what they had heard of this man they were calling the ‘Messiah’. ‘Will this Jesus guy show or not?

Will He be arrested? And who is your money on, if he gets arrested, the Romans or the Temple Guards? ‘ And the crowds were quite happy to sit back and watch, to let it unfold for their amusement and entertainment. There was going to be a confrontation between Jesus and the chief priests, and all were wondering what might come of it?

Now imagine the excitement as the first shouts go up, “He is here! Jesus is coming!” ‘Jesus is coming, He is here!!’ And the emotive shouts of ‘Hosanna! Hosanna! which literally means ‘save now, save now!

They lay branches before Him as a mark to his triumphal entry, but as we know the whole triumph thing is a little premature, because Jesus is not coming to overthrow the chief priests. Jesus is not coming to overthrow the Romans. Jesus is not coming to heal everyone so they can all go home and live happily ever after.

No. As we know Jesus was coming to Jerusalem to be crucified. That is His destiny, that is His purpose.

Without this sacrifice, there would be no ‘making good’ for all our sins. All our transgressions against God, transgressions against truth, righteousness, and justice. Unless they are corrected, then there would be no future for any of us.

For God can have no relationship with anything that is less than perfect. If He did, then He would not be any better than any other of our philosophies which make wide room for compromise, bias, and prejudice.

It is important to understand that the shouts of ‘Hosanna’ or ‘save now,’ were not a shout of salvation. This is the shouting out, of a hope, for a victory against oppression. It is the kind of support or shouting that you would hear at a big sporting event. An event where against all odds the underdog has just beaten the heavy favourites.

Again, imagine the scene. Everyone is ecstatic, shouting wildly. ‘Here is Jesus, our King! Take that, chief priests! Take that you Romans who tax us to the point of death! Yes, here He comes, our King! Now you’ll see what happens!’ 

And the shouting spreads loudly and energetically. The chief priests hear it. They realise that this guy is big trouble for them. They begin to plot more out of self-survival than anything else. They plan to get Jesus engaged in some form of debate in the Temple in the next few days, to trap him with riddles.

But in all honesty, they quickly realise that they are at a complete loss as to how they are going to get rid of Him. That is until Judas shows up.

The expectations of the crowd were that Jesus was going to take over and run things from now on. As we know that was not to be. So, the crowd, like all crowds that don’t get what they want, quickly turn on Him, their initial joyous shouts of ‘hosanna’ replaced with disparaging shouts of ‘crucify him’. The rest, as they say, is history.

Christ’s first gift after his ascension was to send the Holy Spirit back to humankind to begin, among other things, the building of the Church. Then and only then did the disciples begin to understand and to remember all of these events.

Meanwhile Zechariah. 9:9 prophesied the entrance, of the Messiah to Jerusalem, on the back of a poor man’s animal. Not on the back of a kings thoroughbred stallion, but in the capacity of the servant and one destitute of everything mankind deems worthy.

Prayer

On this day of great rejoicing,

Lord Jesus Christ when we welcome you as our King and Saviour.

We also walk in the shadow of your cross.

Hosanna! we cry.

Blessed are you who come In God’s name

Hosanna!

Strengthen our faith on this Palm Sunday

So that when the time comes

To carry the cross, we might still

Call out to you with heartfelt praise.

Give us the grace and the courage

To follow you this Holy Week

from death to resurrection

from darkness to the fullness of light.

We need you.

Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour

Hosanna!

Amen.

Wyn Jones
Local Missional Leader
(North West Hub)