Palm Sunday - time to celebrate
Tomorrow we commemorate Palm Sunday. It is the day we remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is the day that along with the first century crowd we wave palm branches and yell: "Hosanna, Save us now! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord."
The crowd has gotten it right. They don't even know it, but they have gotten it right.
In the middle of the classic mixed-up all ball comedy routine, "Who's on First" Lou Costello repeats back to Bud Abbot the double talk and Abbot says, "That's the first thing you got right." To which a frustrated Costello retorts, "I don't even know what I'm talking about!"
It is the same with the Jerusalem crowd that first Palm Sunday. They are yelling Hosanna. They know the new king will save them. He will bring peace to the people.
These are very nearly the same words sung by the angels and saints around the heavenly throne in the vision of the Book of Revelation. Revelation tells us this will come to pass, is taking place, and will take place forever.
Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior will, does, and has saved us. We cannot but shout and sing and celebrate. The Jerusalem crowd doesn't know what it is talking about but gives us a foreshadowing of what was, is and will be.
I know that the musical Jesus Christ Superstar isn't for everybody. But way back when I was a kid, my brother had the two album set. I thought he and some of the other older kids would think me part of the crowd if I listened to it with them. I grew into it, and I like the music. I also love to argue wit the theology of the parts of the story it exaggerates for dramatic purposes.
One part of the show I really like that isn't quite Biblical is the ending to the Triumphal Entry. The Pharisees complain about the noise and the chance of a riot breaking out, and demand that Jesus hush the crowd.
Of course, Jesus says, "Even the rocks and stones would have to sing." and then He sings out joyously with the crowd actually directing them to sing Hosanna!
It is a joyous, happy side of Jesus that we rarely see in the play.
This is Jesus simply enjoying the elation of the people. He knows He saves those who follow him and in this moment simply enjoys. For just a few moments, the Son of God has sloughed off all the responsibilities, all the controversies, all the pressures. He embraces with the crowd the pleasure that for just a moment they recognize the Savior and He parties with them.
But deep down, Jesus knows they are celebrating for the wrong reasons. They are looking for a new and mighty military and political leader. He is not what they expect, but savior to all-humankind. This is something they cannot understand.
Yes, we begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday and with celebration, but it is celebration with a discordant note. All is not well. All is not right and Jesus is well aware of that.
After three years of preaching, teaching, healing and ministering, the people still don't get it. The Son of God will not bring political freedom to one group, but lie eternal to all humanity.
Knowing this, the Son of God goes from celebration to weeping over Jerusalem, to anger at cleansing the Temple, and then to hare, pointed teachings that Holy Week is all about leading up to Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
But for now, for today, let us celebrate the salvation given us by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Hosanna! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!
The Rev. Steve Nofel is co-pastor of Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church.