Today, we celebrated Palm Sunday, the day that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The streets were lined with people who were brimming with anticipation. Onto the road ahead of Jesus, they placed their cloaks and branches pulled from trees. We read in Matthew’s gospel: “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee’” (Matthew 21:9-11).
The people longed for the day that they would no longer have Roman troops on their streets and a Roman governor exercising authority over them. They also sought something deeper and more meaningful in their religious experience.
Jesus had come teaching God’s truth with great power and displaying God’s grace and mercy in miraculous healings. He had stood toe-to-toe with the religious leaders and denounced their hypocrisy. Many saw Jesus as a prophetic voice for change, so they came out to welcome him. When the less-informed in the crowd asked why such a ruckus was being made over this man, the answer was, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth.”
A week later, the day would begin with less enthusiasm. In the days that followed Jesus’ entry into the city, this same Jesus who was celebrated with “hosannas” was betrayed, arrested, denied, beaten, crucified, and buried in a borrowed tomb. The apparent fall was a quick one, from prophet to blasphemer in five days. So as the sun was about to rise on Sunday morning, Jesus’ disciples were hiding out. A few women came to the tomb in the hopes of completing the anointing of Jesus’ body that had been rushed on the Friday before.
That Sunday morning broke with the ache of grief in the hearts of those who trusted in Jesus. How could the joy have come and gone so quickly? Jesus’ remaining disciples were shut up behind locked doors feeling defeated and disillusioned. Then came a knock and a declaration from Mary Magdalene who had been to the tomb and found not a dead body but a living Savior, “I have seen the Lord!”
On Palm Sunday, Jesus was declared a prophet. On Easter Sunday, Jesus was proven to be far more than a prophet – He was the Son of God who defeated sin and death. He was and is the living Lord. If Jesus were merely a prophet, He should be respected. Since Jesus is Savior, He should be worshiped.