Palm Sunday and Easter Musings

I recently wrote a devotion for a Holy Week guide put together by my church White Rock Fellowship. You can read the whole guide here: Holy Week Readings and Devotions.

But here is my portion pertaining to Palm Sunday:

Readings: Psalm 118; Zechariah 9:9–12; Matthew 21:1–11

Religious throngs trek upward to Jerusalem chanting psalms of ascent (Ps 120-134) on an annual pilgrimage. Longing for a Messiah to free them from Rome’s harsh rule, they sing words of hope.

They think about Jesus of Nazareth. Some say he’s a prophet, others claim he is the Messiah. But on this special day, Jesus reveals his own message for the crowd—he is the holy fulfillment of Zechariah 9—the humble Messiah riding a colt.

The crowds call out words indicating they recognize his claim of Messiahship: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:9).

They want a revolutionary Messiah and wave their branches with expectation. Branches like the ones waved in victory after the Maccabean revolt. Branches like the ones the Romans themselves gave to the winners in their games.

Yet, this Messiah doesn’t come gallivanting into Jerusalem on a noble stallion or brandishing chariots and weapons of war. Quite the contrary—he comes into town with a nursing donkey and her colt.

But they fail to understand. They recognize a key part of Jesus’ identity as Messiah, but they miss his main purpose in coming. Their definition of a savior doesn’t match up with his.

Many people of God still praise him with their lips, but true disciples recognize the deeper picture—before the victory, our Savior walked a dark path of agony.

Before the triumph must always come the cross.