One of the things I love most about being Lutheran is our adherence to the church year. I know that right around Thanksgiving, the colors on the altar will switch to blue. We’ll observe the days of Advent, singing and speaking about Christ’s second coming. Christmas is white, even when there is no snow. And then sometime after the turn of the new year, something related to the phases of the moon that I’ve never quite gotten the grasp of, we have Ash Wednesday and head into Lent. At the end of that season of purple repentance, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. I know it’s sometimes called Passion Sunday, but today’s joy passage (Luke 19:37-38) is from the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, heralded by Hosannas, palms, and cloaks strewn on the road.
As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’
From the time of Christ’s birth until this moment, we don’t see this kind of celebration over Him. There are occasional references in the gospels to large crowds around Him, and people wanting to crown Him as their king (little did they know…), but there are basically two points where we get the full, descriptive picture of the type of adoration Jesus truly deserves. One is at His birth, when the angels burst through the sky to sing. The other is right here, as He rides a lowly donkey into Jerusalem.
The people are excited. He’s coming to change things! Life will be different! Jesus is the Messiah! All of these things are true, but the people didn’t get what it meant. Many were looking for earthly changes – the heavy foot of Rome being lifted from their necks, an end to poverty, total healing of all diseases, perfection and peace. Jesus did usher in all of these things, but they will not be fully realized in this world. That’s the part the people didn’t understand, and many still don’t.
It must have been an amazing party, just the same, to stand along the road getting a glimpse of the Christ. Hosanna in the highest!