Palm Sunday: The Sound of Peace, The Sound of Choice

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. It’s a great day to commemorate and celebrate the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem and what was the beginning of the most important week in the history of the world. It’s also a day of choice. So, why is Palm Sunday a day of choice for you and for me, and what choice do we need to make?

Well, perhaps you’ve heard or read about this before, maybe you’ve even heard me reference this before, but, Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem was not the only procession the city saw that day. Growing up and hearing the Palm Sunday story every year, I had no idea.

In a book called The Last Week ¹ we see that Roman historians recorded that the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, led a procession of Roman cavalry and centurions into the city of Jerusalem on the same day. Are you starting to see where the choice might come in?  

Think again of the sound of Jesus’ procession; the waving of branches, the Messianic shouts and rejoicing, the singing…it’s joyful, it’s loud, it’s spectacular (see John 12.12-16).

Then, think about the sound of the other side of town:

It’s large, it’s loud, and it’s all very legalistic looking. Soldiers in armour, the sound of steel clinking, leather creaking, horses neighing, wheels and chariots rolling, boots marching. Put yourself there in your mind’s eye and listen in with your mind’s ear…what a contrast!

Messianic singing and palm branch waving versus the might and power of earthly kingdoms. On that day, there was on display a huge contrast between kings and kingdoms.

Physically and literally, these two processions and entrances into Jerusalem would have sounded very different, but, what are they really saying?

One is a procession of peace and passion, one is a procession of power and posterity.

Those in Jerusalem, those present that day, those who watched those processions enter will have made a choice. This is where you and I come in. For us, this is the choice we need to make each and every day day.  

We can choose power or peace.

We can choose the way of the world, or the way of the Word.

We can choose our way, or His way.

When we read stories like this in the Bible, accounts of what happened all those years ago, naturally we want to put ourselves into action, don’t we? We imagine ourselves there: what did it look like, feel like, sound like?

I think here, when we read the story of Palm Sunday, we put ourselves as those welcoming Jesus, don’t we?

We’re there reciting Psalm 118.25-26 whilst watching the Lord arrive.

We’re waving our palm branches and thinking back to the tales we’ve hard in other literature from this period (1 and 2 Maccabees).

We’re welcoming Him as coming King, recognising Him as Messiah.

But do you know what? That’s not us.

More likely, we are the ones watching all this happening and thinking, huh, what, who is this guy…we are the ones that this coming Prince of Peace came to save, we are the sinners that He came to call to repentance. Honestly, we are not the triumphant onlookers cheering, no, we are the bemused, lost, and confused people stood in the second or third row back, if we’re even there. We’re drawn to this procession, drawn to this God-man, drawn to this coming King even if we don’t know why. That is us.

On that day, all those years ago, there were two processions representing two kingdoms and two theologies which leaves you with one big choice. 

Which would you choose?  

What kind of king do you expect?

We need to choose one.

Naturally we are going to choose the one that we shouldn’t, and then we hear our own voice by the end of the week crying out against Him. See, we want ourselves to be those spreading cloaks and palms on the street because we think, yeah, that would have been me, I’m a good person, I would have been team Jesus. The simple fact is that, naturally, we’re not good people and we needed the sacrificial Saviour that rode into town that day in the traditional way of a king coming in peace. He came and died to rescue and restore those that need rescuing and restoration. Are you willing to admit that’s you?

Despite us, despite our selves, despite us not being there waving palm branches for Him, He died for us.

So, on that day, on that very first Palm Sunday, we saw a huge contrast: two rulers entering one city, a picture of our lives. As then, as each and every day now, we need to get in line with something, with someone. This speaks to us all no matter where we are from, no matter how far down the discipleship path we are, whether we are even a believer in Jesus or a not-yet believer in Jesus, we all have the inbuilt sense that there is more than us, we crave more, more stability, more security, just more…God’s Word, written on our hearts tells us that we are made to know eternity. We know deep down that there are two choices, we need to choose between those two processions and which one we will follow. 

We can choose power or peace.

We can choose the way of the world, or the way of the Word.

We can choose our way, or His way.

Palm Sunday, then, is a day of choice for you and for me, and that’s what choice we need to make.

¹ – (The Last Week, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, p.2)

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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